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Privatizing the Public's Mail

 
 
au1929
 
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 12:00 pm
The United States Post Office, when first formed in 1775, did not only deliver messages. It helped bind the loose confederation of American colonies together. Today, instant, worldwide electronic communication, stronger direct competition, and its own cumbersome, union-clad bureaucracy threaten its livelihood.

To address the problem, President Bush named a commission yesterday to look into the idea of privatizing part of the postal service

http://csmonitor.com/2002/1212/p08s04-comv.html

This is just another move towards privatizing a good part of the federal work force.
Any opinion?

I was going to ask should we privatize congress, than I realized they were all in business for themselves already.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,303 • Replies: 14
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 12:11 pm
Technically, the USPS is already privatized. The US Postal service is a self-supporting (ha!) corporation owned by the federal Government.

But, I'd have quite a few concerns with wholesale privitatization but there are probably some functions that could be outsourced (vehicle and equipment maintenance for example).

I know that many Rural Routes are contracted out all already and have been for years but IMO, the actual handling of the mail should be done by the government. Let them outsource all the ancillary stuff.
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jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 12:16 pm
While the post office could use improvement, I oppose privatization.

The private sector has given us one after another scandal and example of rapacious corporate wrong-doers.

Remember what the power companies did in California after they were loosened from the leash of regulation? Remember Enron and
all of the other corporate scandals that we have had to endure recently?

I'd wager that the postal service's top executives don't strip off the service's assetts and inflate prices by taking hundred million dollar pay deals, lucrative stock options or interest free 'loans'(often 'excused' and not repaid) of tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.

Remember this, you're only paying thirty seven cents for a first class stamp. That's darn cheap all things considered!

What do you think the private sector would charge?
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fishin
 
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Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 12:19 pm
jjorge*197982* wrote:
Remember this, you're only paying thirty seven cents for a first class stamp. That's darn cheap all things considered!

What do you think the private sector would charge?


You've only considered 1st class mail there. In the areas where private companys can compete (under law) UPS and FedEx have done a pretty good job of meeting and/or beating the USPS's prices and service for parcels.
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au1929
 
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Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 12:33 pm
fishin'
Thirty seven cents and in hock to the government. I am not sure thit it is the right thing to do.However, I am sure that private industry can do it cheaper and better. Any agency run by the government is rife with waste and inefficiency.
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 12:37 pm
'Tis true, they're a grossly inefficient bunch. That 37 cents is likely a heavily subsidized price, and would have to be under a fully "privatized" system as well.

(Frankly, I'm in favor of just jacking it up to a nice round 50 cents. A lot more money coming in, and who's really going to notice. You need a buck to get two stamps either way.)
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jjorge
 
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Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 12:46 pm
au1929

I'm sure that there is plenty of waste and inefficiency in the postal service.

However, that's not as bad as what the Postal Service might become in the hands of a for-profit corporation.
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fishin
 
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Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 12:49 pm
My concerns with the possible privatization don't have much to do with cost or efficiency. We rely on a lot of things from the USPS and there are quite a few implications on moving it to a private company. Legally, it is presumed that if something is mailed to you that it gets to you and people have come to put great faith in simple things like mailing their bill payments out.

All of that could be gone if the actual handling of 1st class mail were outsourced. Cost is important but it isn't everything.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 12:58 pm
There are also many legal implications involved in handling the mail. You open my mail, and i suffer as a result, i've got a good case against you both in federal and civil courts . . . i would worry more about the legal implications of handing this over to a private company . . . i also don't buy the contention that privately owned companies can automatically be considered more reliable than government agencies, think about the phone companies, for example . . .
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 01:38 pm
Speaking of legal requirements brings me to the Mailbox Rule (which I really don't recall too well, but the bottom line is that there are certain things in contract law which are predicated upon sending out letters, receiving them, etc.). This is a body of common law that's been around for I'm sure at least 100 years. I agree with Setanta and fishin' - there's a reliability issue here.

What if medicines ordered through the mail couldn't be trusted to arrive on time? Or insurance payments? Or rent checks?
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 01:53 pm
Well, most posts in Europe are already privatized - and nearly everywhere people are complaining.
However, it's getting cheaper to post a letter/parcel. And their are less employees and no civil servants any more.

(Insurance payments and rent checks aren't delivered by the post here in Germany since many years: you get the money at your bank - since some 20 years or so our banks/pay-/post offices etc. are electronically linked.)
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 01:59 pm
I live in a high rise building with 160 apartments. We have a regular mailman and subs when he is off. Which by the way seems like every other day? You can tell when he is off by just looking at the mail in the mailbox area. Letters that have been put in the wrong boxes are all over the place. I can't tell you how many times mail has been brought to my door by neighbors who found it in their box.
That is not all, these people do not deliver half the mail they bring much of it back to the PO to be delivered another day. So much for reliability and efficiency of the PO.
I should add some have been caught throwing the mail in the garbage. Could private industry be any worse?
Complaints to the PO fall on deaf ears. As they do with any governmental service agency.
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JoanneDorel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 02:05 pm
Wow privitzation for the USPS, hmmm, would it run as well as Amtrak which went broke and cut back services.
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 03:26 pm
In Chicago, postal employees are famous for dying and leaving behind hundreds of pounds of undelivered mail in their apartments. No joke, either; it happens.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Dec, 2002 03:39 pm
patiodog
I expect it is the same in every big city. I have several friends who are PO retirees. They told me of instances when a postman had a problem with or didn't get a Christmas gift he/she would keep returning that persons mail to the PO rather than delivering it.
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