Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Open Letter to the Postmaster of the United States

i was not planning to write this blog, but the local news was upsetting. For several days now there has been talk that the processing plant for the USPS in Missoula may be closed, and its operations taklen over by the plant in Spokaine. This is all part of the Postalk Service's efforts to streamline -- they want to cut processing plants in half, from 500 to 250. In terms iof cost, this may be effective: they estimate that the closure in Missoula will save a million dollars a year. This could mean a quarter billion dollars a year nationally, if each closed plant represents the same savings.

All well and good.

But jobs will be lost, first and foremost. At least six in Missoula, not counting anyone who will be offered a transfer but cannot or will not accept it. It also means more delay in the mail -- instead of the traditional and much bragged about ability to deliver overnight within yoiur own zip code prefix (first three numbers, like 599 in my case), this will mean two- to three-day delivery for first class mail. In other words, service to postal customers will be worse. Meanwhile, the price of postage goes up another penny next year. So once again we get to pay more so we get to have less.

Is this any way to run a competitive business? I don't think so. If the postal service is in direct competition with the internet, where people can shop, transact, bank, track and even write almost instantly, then how can a busiess stay in business by cutting services? Instead, you invest. You create ways to increrase service. You offer more services, better, cheraper, more efficiently. But the way the opost office is structured, innovation is difficulkt to come by, and when it does come, even harder to install in time to be useful before it becomnes obsolete. I see the Post Office as a dying institution that is not willing to live. I know its employees do not feel that way, but it appears that Congress does.

The Post Office remains the only independent business that I know of that is not independent of the whims of Congress. And it looks to me that Congressmen throughout both houses would like to see the service privatized or eliminated altogether. If that happens, packages will get delivered by others, but woe to any American who does not have access to the net.

I know there still are a few out there somewhere.

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