The Punk in the White House is clueless over the damage he’s causing over the Post Office

Putting the USPS in a deep freeze benefits no one
Matthew T Rader/Unsplash

A country that doesn’t hesitate to drop $700 billion on its war machine now finds itself quibbling over $10 billion to run a very essential service. Of course, a lot of this talk about shrinking the United States Postal Service has nothing to do with its budgetary shortfalls. It is yet another example of short-term political opportunism. USPS might as well stand for United States Political Shitshow…

It might be hard for politicians and their lackeys to see, but the postal service brings more than ballots and postcards. USPS plays a significant role in the US economy. Any actions against it have ramifications for businesses of all sizes. If there was any doubt, the pandemic proved that USPS is an essential service. It kept the country’s almost moribund economy moving, albeit at a sputtering pace.

The pandemic has made online commerce an incredibly significant part of our society. People across the demographic spectrum are now using some kind of online shopping. And many of those packages are delivered by our postal service. According to The Washington Post, “Week to week, package deliveries increased 20 to 50 percent in April compared with the year-ago period, and 60 to 80 percent in May.” If the package volume stays 15 percent over average, the USPS might not need further cash bailout…

USPS is part of the new future of retail. Main Street is no longer just on the street. Thanks to tools like PayPal, Shopify, WooCommerce, and Square, it is also online. And it needs USPS to do business.

Amazon can — and is — building their own logistics and delivery system. Not everyone can do that. All those politicians who complain about Amazon’s monopoly forget that the only way to fight the giant is to arm many David’s with slingshots. USPS is that slingshot. Instead of thinking about shutting down or shrinking USPS, we need to really work hard in helping it adapt to Mail Service 2.0..

Everything Om writes is readable. He could do my grocery list and I’d probably get home from town earlier – with money left over.

There’s lot to learn in his post on the USPS. Dimbulbs like the Fake President will never get it. But, the voting public has time before the next election to understand more about a stupid decision made for the grimiest of political reasons.

Debate over a long-time public service called the Post Office

Republicans want privatization, Trump wants to stick it to Amazon.

…The Trump administration…appears to be specifically hostile to the idea of a Postal Service bailout. Its distaste for a postal bailout merges ideological conservatives’ generic preference for postal privatization with the president’s hang-up about the idea that the USPS is giving Amazon a sweetheart deal on shipping.

In general, there are a lot of complexities to the long-term postal policy picture in the United States, but the immediate crisis is actually pretty simple: Mail volumes are plunging, taking USPS revenue down with them. And unless something is done relatively quickly to make up for those lost revenues, it’s hard to see how significant layoffs and service reductions can be avoided…

…At the core of that entity is a two-sided bargain. On the one hand, the Postal Service gets a monopoly on the provision of daily mail services. On the other hand, the Postal Service undertakes a series of public service obligations that a private company would not provide — most notably, daily mail delivery and flat postage rates regardless of where you live.

RTFA. Some discussion. Some debate. I see nothing useful in ending a public service that only has private alternatives that cost American consumers a boatload of money.

Driverless trucks start test runs on Southwestern Interstate highways

❝ The U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday started a two-week test transporting mail across three Southwestern states using self-driving trucks, a step forward in the effort to commercialize autonomous vehicle technology for hauling freight.

San Diego-based startup TuSimple said its self-driving trucks will begin hauling mail between USPS facilities in Phoenix and Dallas to see how the nascent technology might improve delivery times and costs. A safety driver will sit behind the wheel to intervene if necessary and an engineer will ride in the passenger seat.

❝ If successful, it would mark an achievement for the autonomous driving industry and a possible solution to the driver shortage and regulatory constraints faced by freight haulers across the country.

The plan is to have these trucks on the road 22 hours at a time. Not exactly something human drivers are up for. Since long-haul runs are literally short thousands of drivers, timing couldn’t be better. If everything works OK? 🙂

Your friendly post office takes photos of all your mail

The Postal Service takes pictures of every piece of mail processed in the United States – 160 billion last year – and keeps them on hand for up to a month.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the photos of the exterior of mail pieces are used primarily for the sorting process, but they are available for law enforcement, if requested.

The photos have been used “a couple of times” by to trace letters in criminal cases, Donahoe told the AP on Thursday, most recently involving ricin-laced letters sent to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“We don’t snoop on customers,” said Donahoe, adding that there’s no big database of the images because they are kept on nearly 200 machines at processing facilities across the country. Each machine retains only the images of the mail it processes.

“It’s done by machine, so there’s no central area where any of this information would be,” he said. “It’s extremely expensive to keep pictures of billions of pieces of mail. So there’s no need for us to do that…”

The automated mail tracking program was created after the deadly anthrax attacks in 2001 so the Postal Service could more easily track hazardous substances and keep people safe, Donahoe said…

Processing machines take photographs so software can read the images to create a barcode that is stamped on the mail to show where and when it was processed, and where it will be delivered, Donahoe said.

Don’t you feel safer, now?

The next question is less obvious. Is there any branch of government that isn’t tracking us?

Mystery tunnel discovered beneath Mumbai post office

An ancient “tunnel-like” structure has been unearthed in the garden of the General Post Office in the Indian city of Mumbai.

The authorities say it is clear that the previously undiscovered structure is not a sewage or storm-water drain. It was only revealed when a local newspaper reporter asked to see it.

The heritage committee is yet to inspect it, or decide what exactly the structure is. Experts say such tunnels were often part of fortified basements…

Chief Postmaster General Faiz-ur-Rehman told the BBC that the discovery of the structure came as a surprise. “I have been here for more than 20 years,” he said, “but was never aware of its existence…

Some reports say there is a possibility of it being an escape route connected to another tunnel. Three ways out, with covers, have been found so far in the garden…

Mr Rehman said that the original drawings for the building were not available in India. Officials say they could be in the UK – the former colonial power.

“Maybe if we could access the original plan we may be able to find out if there are more – and what purpose these structures served.”

Surely, no one expected the Brits to let their “subjects” know much about what they were doing or planning back in the day.

OTOH, some beancounter probably squirreled away a copy of the plans.

Dumb crook of the day

A fleeing thief realised he had made a wrong turn in Florence when he found himself staring at bemused police officers instead of the post-office crowds he had hoped to melt away into.

The young Romanian snatched a bag out of a car and set off with a married couple in pursuit, witnesses said.

Trying to dodge them he ducked into what he thought was a central post office but instead discovered was a municipal police office “It was like something out of I Soliti Ignoti,” said one onlooker, referring to the 1958 Italian neorealist comedy classic.

The couple arrived hot on the thief’s heels and he was arrested.


Chickenshit commentary of the week!

Do you ever tire of articles, op-ed pieces, commentary from TV Talking Heads that avoid the point altogether? Here’s this week’s best example – Bob Greene at CNN offering a “humorous” commentary about the US Postal Service:

You seemed a little bit interested in last Sunday’s column: the one about the prospect of Saturday mail delivery being eliminated by the U.S. Postal Service.

That is what Postmaster General John E. Potter has asked Congress to authorize. Because of a budget crisis and a drastic decline in the number of items Americans send through the mail each year (an estimated 20 billion fewer items mailed this year alone), Potter wants to stop delivering mail on Saturdays.

Along with last week’s column, there was a feature where readers were invited to cast their votes on the subject (not a scientific poll, as they say; I think this means that Albert Einstein wasn’t counting the ballots).

More than 397,000 of you took the time to vote. The question was: “Would you miss Saturday mail if the Postal Service stopped delivering it?…”

Sixty-eight percent of you said you would not miss the Saturday mail if it stopped coming. Only 32 percent of you said you would miss it…

Postmaster General Potter says that getting rid of Saturday delivery would save more than $3 billion a year. My guess is that not only are they going to have to do away with Saturday mail — the time is probably coming when delivery on other days of the week will disappear, too.

So the question is not whether the days of mail delivery will be curtailed. It’s whether we will be happy about it.

The real problem hasn’t changed in 50 years. Junk mail doesn’t pay for itself.

The sleazy junk mail factories should be subsidizing the post office for all of us! From Capital One to Publishers Clearinghouse to my local Chevy Dealer’s Lucky Ignition Key – do you think these cruds look forward to shipping “the latest, greatest cookbook offer” to my front door via UPS or FedEx?

Congress will likely discover some populist lie acceptable to both Republican and Democrat lobbyists to maintain USPS subsidies. You wouldn’t want America’s biggest freeloaders to carry their own weight would you?

What I also don’t expect is an honest challenge to the corporate status quo from a smiley flack working for Time-Warner.