a place for zinesters - writers and readers
so i know the mainstream media is always predicting doomsday, however, i am worried about the postal system. the current US Congress is a brutal one bent on destroying any and everything it sees as a waste or burden (which is pretty much everything except corporate tax cuts). and i suspect since the repug led congress is hellbent on destroying healthcare, unions, and workers' rights (among millions of other things), it seems like the postal service is/could be a prime target.
while this will of course be of great negative impact to the majority of americans who can't afford UPS or FedEx or another competitor, my fears for the zine community are more overwhelming. while zine delivery times would decrease (which i could give a shit less about), the actual mailing cost of zines would skyrocket and possibly put many individual zinesters and distros completely out of commission.
and from what i'm reading in this article, i am not liking where some of this may be headed. (for instance, my grandfather, a retired postal worker, could lose his pension which USPS is saying they have overpaid for many retirees. i highly doubt that.)also, doing away w/ saturday delivery makes me sad.
opinions? discussion? solutions if this happens?
I've always been told that the USPS is NOT a "money make venture" and actually does not make a profit at all. I don't have any sources but several people have told me that...
There was a segment on ABC News last night that the USPS issued a dire warning that it would soon default on it's pension obligations and other deficits and would shut down by this winter. USPS is supposed to be a private for-profit company, but the catch is that it was given a monopoly on first-class mail delivery. That is, it's a federal crime for anybody else to deliver letters, whether they operate as a business, a co-operative, or just an individual.
Anything the USPS can do now, private individuals, businesses or (for the anti-capitalists out there) co-operatives can organize and do themselves. I'd be very irked if rates went up under true privatization (totally deregulated) and I'd be devastated if private deliverers never emerged (though I'm reasonably confident they would), but if it happens, it happens. I see no moral reason to force others to pay for my enjoyment.
De-monopolize and radically de-regulate, mail delivery, and EVERYTHING ELSE.
Five Ways the Postal Service Could Re-Invent Itself
I haven't read this yet. I'm at the EWU library and am going to print it out and read it later, after which I may have some comments. I do think de-monopolizing first-class mail delivery is the right moral thing to do, but failing that, maybe this could work until that unlikely action is taken.
That is, it's a federal crime for anybody else to deliver letters, whether they operate as a business, a co-operative, or just an individual.
Then how can UPS/FedEx/etc exist? It's illegal for anyone else to mail letters or packages with USPS postage on them, but the door is wide open for private mail companies to set up their own delivery system. Of course, they'll be a lot more expensive under a for-profit company and nobody will use them but keep dreaming those libertarian dreams.
If eliminating Saturday delivery will help workers keep their pensions and keep the USPS solvent, then I don't think that's too much of a sacrifice. Even if they cut out another day (preferably Wednesday, since that way it wouldn't be four days without mail), I wouldn't mind terribly much. It's better than constant increases. OTOH, I see mail as being incredibly cheap considering what you get for it. I can mail a one-ounce letter halfway around the world (from Maryland to Guam) for less than half a dollar! Even if I'm only sending a letter within my own state, it's still kind of a bargain. I think the decline of the postal system is inevitable, not because of personal mail (which has always been a tiny percentage of all mail), but because of the reduction of catalogs, direct marketing, etc. I'm a big USPS booster but even I stopped delivery on all catalogs due to paper waste. And I hate that they might have to lay off some current workers... but I don't see a way around it, especially in low-population places where they might only handle 1000 pieces of mail a week, if that. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to employ several full-time employees in small towns. Which is why reducing days (which would allow them to keep some workers employed even if only part time) seems the least of all evils. It's better than the entire system going under. (Of course I hardly have to point out that the entire USPS could be run at its current strength for the cost of a single bomb.)
The monopoly is on private companies using USPS postage or USPS mailboxes or facilities, which makes sense, because they're owned by the USPS. This is logical and fair. I wouldn't slap a UPS label on a letter and put it in my mailbox and expect the USPS to mail it. There's also a ban on private companies mailing "non-urgent letters" (according to Wikipedia), but I don't know how they'd enforce that or define non-urgent letters. But even if they allowed UPS or FedEx to mail non-urgent personal letters/direct mail/etc using their own mailboxes and their own postage, I can't really see the cost being anything close to what you get with the USPS. Also, I can't imagine the logistical effort involved in having a half-dozen different postal services, all with their own mailboxes and trucks, running an increasingly tiny amount of mail. I guess I wouldn't mind allowing people to start up their own dinky postal service if they want to but it would be a business plan destined to fail because it would take billions to create the kind of infrastructure USPS already has.
First class (again, definition provided by Wikipedia) just means that the mail is a priority over ads, magazines, media mail, etc. I guess the equivalent for UPS would be two-day delivery, which would be what for a letter, $10? And that's the biggest courier service in the country with the best infrastructure.
The Wikipedia article also says the USPS is mandated by the Constitution, which I had forgotten. So it would take an amendment to abolish it or contract it out to private companies, and that's never going to happen regardless of whether someone believes it should. So even if there are competitors (and hey, if someone wants to make their own crazy postal system, go for it), the USPS isn't going away.