What's the answer? Commit to do the work necessary to turn it around. The mail hasn't changed over the last two years in some fundamental way that makes it disruptive. Investment in the system was simply deprioritized. We know what the system needs, so let's just do the work. We need the Postal Service to operate as it should, as it's a key piece of infrastructure that society depends on, whether we recognize it or not.
As always, call your congressperson and indicate you support such legislation (if you do; imho you should). Also, the postal board of governors can sign off on the USPS providing financial services without congressional approval, so I expect to see some progress as the current administration fills vacancies on the board .
I'm no GOP fan at all but having done a lot of work with the federal government a very constant theme in politics is this idea that if only federal agencies are given more funding they can suddenly magically do their jobs better.
This ignores the fact that most of these agencies are horrific with their spending efficiency. The VA for example does not have any shortage of money but I've never encountered an organization with so many toxically inept bureaucrats, and unnecessarily numerous layers of management who don't seem to do anything.
The idea that there is this conspiracy to cause a degradation of service is not proven and that would welcome you to provide actual data from a non-political organization that backs this up.
USPS operating budget 82 billion.
FedEx operating budget 4 billion.
Obviously this is not a complete comparison and you would need to also include volume and other metrics to get closer to the truth.
But this is potentially a canary in the coal mine for how inefficient the USPS.
It's possible that the Democrats are saying that the Republicans are attacking the post office to get a political win.
But in actuality the Republicans may be searching for more efficiency.
I don't know if any of this is true but this is another viewpoint.
Revenues & Expenses
Package revenue: $28,537M
Overall revenue: $73,123M
Overall expenses: $82,309M
Net profit: -$ 9,176M
Mail volume - pieces per year
Marketing mail: ~75B
First class mail: ~54B
Revenues & Expenses
Package revenue: Unknown
Overall revenue: $69,217M
Net profit: $ 1,286M
Mail volume - pieces per year
Marketing mail: N/A
First class mail: N/A
So USPS carries more packages, as well as insane volumes of mail that UPS/FedEx won't. Despite the significant volume differences, expenses are within 20% between the companies.
That was very informative!
I'm going to look a little deeper into it but that makes me feel better about the efficiency of the post office now.
Do you think your experience at the DMV is caused by an army of saboteurs in the building? Do you think a secret boss in the back has somehow orchestrated a scheme that causes the employees to be rude and dismissive? Or, just maybe, is it simply the result of organizations which are unable or unwilling to terminate poor performers, creating a dead sea effect where competence is punished with more work and no credit?
My experience with the DMV in California is mostly positive, thank you very much.
Most of the stuff can be done online and I do it there.
That, unfortunately, means that when I must go into an actual DMV office, I can't schedule an appointment and I wind up in the line.
Yes, wait times can be significant (1-3 hours). However, when I get to the front, the woman (and it was always a woman) always tried to solve my immediate problem somehow. Yes, twice she needed to get her superior who also scratched her head to figure out something.
If I needed some extra paperwork that I could get that day, they generally gave me a way to jump the line when I came back.
I will tell you that FAR too many people go hit the DMV without having even the vaguest idea of what they need the DMV to do or even attempting to try to corral the paperwork they are going to need. This causes 90+% of the issues at the DMV in that they need to make multiple passes through the system.
If you hit the DMV and are just missing one thing, you're gonna get a LOT better service. The workers are only human and they're going to go the extra mile for someone who is putting in the effort more often than someone who isn't.
> Or, just maybe, is it simply the result of organizations which are unable or unwilling to terminate poor performers, creating a dead sea effect where competence is punished with more work and no credit?
Spoken like someone who has never worked customer service.
Why does everybody always seem to think rude and dismissive employees are indicative of employee failures instead of an indication that the job is shit, the employer is treating the employees like crap, and so only shitty people will take the job?
Reference: Costco vs Walmart.
The DMV isn’t one of these, sorry.
Making excuses for people who hate their jobs or bosses and take it out on the public is what I’d expect from someone with very little life experience.
I’ll notify the public that the DMV is amazing, and the TSA are friendly and professional. Nobody getting fired ever is because they hire only the best. /s
This is why I always give support people top ratings and try to put a positive spin in the comments even when it's hard. I know lots of people who work retail or front line support. It's pretty much never their fault when things go wrong.
Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Mulvaney in a 2014 interview slammed the CFPB as a “sick, sad” joke; he also co-sponsored legislation that would have eliminated it."
"President-elect Donald Trump may nominate former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy—the agency Perry wanted to abolish but infamously forgot to name during a 2011 presidential debate." [Perry went on to be Trump's Secretary of Energy, and it can out that prior to taking the job, he didn't even know what the department did.]
Anti-government activists oppose measures to make filing taxes easier so you'll dislike them more: "Norquist has fought California’s ReadyReturn program, as well as the idea of free federal tax preparation." (Norquist is the one who famously said he wanted to shrink government "to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub," as quoted in this thread.)
Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. So yes, active sabatoge from within is happening, and its not even a secret.
You have one that'll do end runs around Constitutional restrictions to aggregate power, another working feverishly to dismantle it...
Where are the people who just like providing high quality, ubiqquitously accessible civil services supposed to fit in?
Someone once wrote, years ago, a speculative piece about having the USPS take on a digital role as a kind of nationalized 3rd party identity authentication service. That seemed like a good idea to me. We could certainly use that and it's probably a better and more interesting business model than what currently provides them a huge amount of their revenue-- junk mail.
The households that might choose to spend $136 per year to avoid junk mail are probably wealthier than average and therefore more valuable to advertisers. So letting those households opt-out would also probably reduce the value of those that remain. As a wild guess I suspect they might might need to charge closer to ~$200/yr to be revenue neutral to the USPS.
Having said that there are cheaper options  and I don't think the USPS should have to resort to delivering ~41 pounds of unwanted junk to every citizen every year just to stay afloat.
I still hope we can find a more sustainable path for the USPS than forcing them to stay alive by delivering something no one wants to receive.
There's a lot of human effort and natural resources consumed in growing timber, cutting it down, shipping it, pulping it, printing it, mailing it, delivering it, recycling it, and pulping it again but into lower-quality product.
Whereas my only wasted labor is to skim through the mail as I walk from the mailbox to the house and then drop the junk into the bin by the door. In the grand scheme of things that part doesn't bother me except insofar as it reminds me of the useless waste of the rest of the lifecycle.
I’ll also point out that without junk mail, they could reduce OpEx quite a bit, and that should be factored into the equation as well. Package delivery services don’t stop at each address each day, and without junk mail, most households wouldn’t receive something in the mail each day. Same with trash collection — literally 95% of the mail we receive goes directly into bin, and I’m sure landfills are composed of a not-insignificant amount of junk mail. Excessive traffic and road wear from more mail delivery vehicles is probably less significant, but still caused by this. So, in addition to the environmental harm and annoyance of junk mail, the ridiculous situation we find in costs more than just the apparent “lost revenue” we’d have without it. It’s not like the government doesn’t spend way more per household per year on far lower value things than guaranteed physical mail delivery.
Imagine if politicians got national parks in their crosshairs, they were deemed not profitable enough, and the proposed solution was to start selling ad space in prominent outdoor locations, like Yosemite. Just picture Half Dome, with a nice fat “BROUGHT TO YOU BY XFINITY, HOME OF THE PACKAGE”.
In the UK, the cheap junk mailing rate allows Royal Mail to delay delivery for several days, to suit their schedule. They naturally batch it up. This is also appropriate for a lot of commercial non-junk mail.
In Denmark, it is delivered around once a week, probably with a similar system.
In both countries, I opted out of all junk mail. I receive a paper letter every 6 weeks or so.
> India has the largest Postal Network in the world with 154,965 Post Offices (as on 31.03.2017) of which 139,067 are in the rural areas. At the time of independence, there were 23,344 Post Offices, which were primarily in urban areas. Thus, the network has registered a seven-fold growth since Independence, with the focus of this expansion primarily in rural areas. On an average, a Post Office serves an area of 21.56 Sq. Km and population of 7753 people.
It also provides safe, steady jobs to a lot of people.
Taking a guess here that this is a US based comment? In Australia the postal service is a private company fully owned by the government. It's fairly well run by the private sector, consistently reliable and paying out annual profits to the Australian budget. It's not a burden at all on society, quite the opposite really, all that despite having strict service requirements to serve 99% of the population spread thinly across huge areas.
COVID has very fundamentally changed the equation.
Also, some institutions are more adaptive than others, some are more resilient. I suggest the USPS is very low on 'adaptiveness', but probably fairly resilient.
From requiring pre-funding retirements years ago, to DeJoy dismantling sorting machines just a few months ago.
It's hard to know how adaptable a system is, when it's actively being torn down at every opportunity.
The load that is distributed by the postal service has changed in nature dramatically to be far more packaged intensive and far far less letter-intensive than it used to be.
The sorting machines that were being removed were letter sorting machines because nobody sends letters anymore except for junk mail. Room has to be made for more package sorting machines. That was the explanation for the moves but the timing made people suspicious and the suspicions were jumped upon by political actors in an election year.
Nobody bother to ask themselves why the GOP would remove sorting machines in states that are definitely going blue if it was part of some grand scheme. Again I really don't like the GOP and have never even voted for a GOP candidate but I get fed up with politics bleeding over into reality via misinformation designed to create an emotional and stressful feeling in potential voters to ensure they cast their ballots because that's what this is.
If they were not planning on dismantling and damaging the way the system functioned, then it would be overwhelmingly obvious that simply the optics of literally dismantling infrastructure in an election year that would be the most widely dependent on mail are atrocious.
People were not "suspicious" of the timing. People refused to believe someone could be so stupid as to think they could do what DeJoy did in good faith, after being appointed by someone openly demanding the shutdown of the system, and not look like they were blatantly performing a political hit job. No good faith actor would possibly act that way.
Have you ever heard of equipment changes at the USPS in the past? Probably not. Do you think they never changed USPS equipment in previous years, under different presidents?
I've voted blue my whole life, but that doesn't mean I'm going to remain silent while dumb conspiracy theories with no evidence are weaponized to drive voter turnout. There are real world consequences to weaponizing misinformation, including the undermining of trust in systems of government.
Every serious bit of attention to these kinds of stories further bolsters the notion that conspiracies in government are routine, and feeds right wing extremists just as much as (if not more) than left-wing extremists.
Any time you find yourself "mind reading" people, assuming that "it couldn't just be a coincidence" you should ask yourself if you are being manipulated by weaponized propaganda.
And as a lifelong Democrat who has taught workshops to journalists at the Center for American Progress in the past, I think a huge issue for the future of the party is that fact that most of the corporate media has followed the Fox News confirmation bias monetization strategy, but chosen to target the left. The DeJoy story, like Benghazi on the right, has elements of truth mixed in with pure speculation, and is primarily narrative built on narrative built on narrative with kernels of actual truth scattered here and there. You end up getting silly things like pictures from hyper blue states like NJ and CA with Twitter addicts claiming that the truck hauling mailboxes from Encinitas to Riverside is "rigging the election." It's just plain silly paranoia.
It's hopeless. I've also tried to point out the logical flaws in peoples' USPS conspiracy theories (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24290622), with little success. It's just as hopeless to tell people that Congress forcing the USPS to prefund pensions was a) bipartisan and b) a good thing, as opposed to yet another GOP anti-USPS plot.
Mail in votes were going to be a big deal that election. Even if flats were down as you said, it doesn't seem intuitive that you would reduce the ability to process flats prior to an election that depends on them.
Also why did they continue when ordered by federal judges to stop the destruction of the machines?
Why not wait till after an election where mail in ballots were going to be a big force, in the midst of a pandemic?
It's hard to cleanly separate standard procedure from ill intent, when the president himself is simultaneously railing against mail in ballots, while his appointees are overseeing the reduction of systems that assist in processing them.
I can't find any thing that backs up your version of events and I've tried searching. Though I'd like to see more about it.
As long as it's not a wedge issue, the Dems are fine siding with the Republicans.
USPS pension funding gets brought up quite a bit as some kind of a conspiracy, but that doesn't appear to be accurate.
The issue for the postal service is that the law was changed so that the USPS would start funding their retirement health care costs since they are promised to the workers and the projected costs had exploded. This was supported by a bipartisan commission, the GAO, and the Postal Service itself:
>...Although retiree health benefits are often unfunded or poorly funded, two considerations suggested the Service’s retiree health care obligations should be funded: they are as firm a commitment as the Service’s pensions, and they had become enormous (about $75 billion by 2006). In 2003, the presidential commission suggested establishing a reserve fund for these obligations, and the Postal Service itself sent Congress a proposal for creating such a fund.
>Prior to 2006, the Service simply paid retirees’ health benefit premiums when they came due. The Service put aside no money when it promised the future benefits. Paying benefits when they come due rather than funding them in advance is known as the pay-as-you-go or unfunded approach.
>Early this century, Congress, the Administration, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), and a bipartisan presidential commission expressed concern about the lack of funding. Although retiree health benefits are often unfunded or poorly funded, two considerations suggested the Service’s retiree health care obligations should be funded: they are as firm a commitment as the Service’s pensions, and they had become enormous (about $75 billion by 2006). In 2003, the presidential commission suggested establishing a reserve fund for these obligations, and the Postal Service itself sent Congress a proposal for creating such a fund.
>In 2002-2003, it was discovered that the Service was contributing far more than necessary to fully fund its pensions, and Congress allowed the Service to contribute less. Congress decided the pension “savings” could help patch the retiree health benefit underfunding. In 2006, as part of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), the Postal Service Retirement Health Benefits Fund (RHBF) was established. Most of the Service’s contributions to the new fund could be paid using the pension “savings.” PAEA was bipartisan legislation with broad support.
>...If they didn't have to prepay pensions (something no other government agency, or private company in the world is required to do, or does), they'd be in great shape.
In relation to this, the USPS has posted this as part of a fact sheet:
>...More recently, the USPS Fairness Act was passed by the House. It would eliminate the requirement to prefund retiree health benefits and forgive our current defaulted prefunding payments. However, ultimate passage of the bill will not reduce our underlying retiree health benefits liability, nor improve our cash flow or long-term financial position.
In addition to the reasoning you posted, this is factually incorrect. Every single private company in the US is legally required to prefund their pension plans (there's some complex laws handling the actuarial stuff and interest rates, eg MAP-21). It's so incredibly wrong to say that the post office is an outlier because they're required to. The post office was an outlier until they were required to prefund pensions. It also muddies the waters to conflate retiree health insurance with pension plans.
Per this, your statement isn't fully correct either, since the new rulings made the USPS an outlier.
It was misleading of Bishop to bring up pensions in your linked politifact article
Take the case where every company in the USA (including the post office) is required to do X and Y, but only the USPS is required to do Z. It's a true statement to say that "only the post office has to do Z". It's also a true statement to say "Only the post office has to do all 3 of X, Y, and Z". But the latter statement is abusing boolean logic to make it sound like X and Y only apply to the post office.
: It's also misleading to say they "must fund 100% of the costs in advance" when the actual requirement is that the pension plan be "fully funded". If you're fully funding your pension plan, compound interest is probably covering at least 50% of the costs.
Snail-mail is in trouble in most parts of the developed world, because online services have replaced so many processes that were running on paper.
Providing an example from my country and neighbours, i.e. the Nordics. Look at the graph that has numbers of delivered letters in different countries - it has roughly halved in 10 years, and the trend continues:
Parcel deliveries are growing, but there the postal services have competition.
As the volume of letters decreases - particularly in businesses and offices but also in private lives - it becomes increasingly difficult to run the service without financial loss.
A natural way in this situation is to make deliveries less often; we no longer need official letters urgently, except in quite rare exception cases that can probably be covered by parcel delivery services, with tracking (and much higher cost for the small number of deliveries).
Over here, the postal service tries to solve this by arranging deliveries only three times a week, and in future perhaps once a week. I find that quite acceptable. If information needs to reach me faster, it'll come on-line anyway. A week's wait is OK for legacy services where someone wants a piece of physical paper with my signature, written on a pen, on it.
There is always a limit on how much money you can get from the government so they would have to save on expenditure with the decline.
It's nice to have but it can't be considered critical anymore. Bills, paychecks and other important mail needs to be delivered digitally, there's no turning back.
edit: parcels and legacy papers still need to work everywhere though and that is worth some public spending, but if you live in the middle of nowhere you have to accept longer deliveries on fewer days of the week.
The USPS claims to have 230,000 vehicles. How much of that environmental footprint could be eradicated?
You cannot dismantle the only mail service that is OBLIGATED to deliver mail to every address. FEDEX and UPS don't deliver out to my wife's grandmother. FEDEX and UPS don't deliver to my Uncle's factory, in the middle of a medium sized town in north east Texas. But the Post Office does.
When you get rid of a government service that has literally served the entire country, and replace it with a profit driven company, you will disrupt the entire country.
As much as I dislike how crappy the delivery of the USPS has become (I still rely on them for a couple clients who don't believe in digital payments even if I discount their invoice, and my wife's and my prescriptions come through the mail), they have been much more consistent and on time than FEDEX or UPS. I'm actually still waiting on a package via FEDEX that has been out for delivery (in California not NY where I live) for about 3 weeks now.
> But frequency of delivery is the only obligation that is clearly articulated in the Postal Service’s current USO. In fact, the USO is based on a hodgepodge of various legal requirements and regulations that, in most cases, provide only broad guidance. For example, while public access to postal services is another important component of the USO, there’s nothing about how many access points, such as collection boxes or post offices, must exist.
Nothing there about delivering to every address.
> We’re proud to provide secure, reliable and affordable service to every address in the United States, plus its territories and its military and diplomatic installations worldwide.
They say they provide postal service to every address in the United States, so if they are lying, then we as citizens should do something about it. I'm just going off the usps facts website, and what they claim.
Doesn't say delivery to every address.
Forcing some addresses to rent P.O. Boxes is still serving them.
You can if you obligate other national carriers to do that.
The fact is the world has changed dramatically in the last few decades and the kinds of things that are sent are completely different, demands are different, technology has changed rapidly. I don't get anything other than junk mail from the public service, I wish it would stop.
I think an optimal solution might be to actually semi-privatize the USPS, by floating a small % ownership (say 10%) on public exchange, letting them set their own prices and strategy, which would remove recent Republican meddling - and - also remove their impetus as well, as it would be a 'self sustaining' entity, still mostly owned by the Government.
Having a % float would provide some measure of market feedback, this is a tactic used by some very wealthy families to give external measures to their CEO's and have some degree of accountability. I believe Bertelsmann uses this kind of setup.
Aside from that, it could very well be possible to require private carriers to have the same, national coverage in order to be considered 'national carriers' a status which they should have to have to be able to bid on certain contracts etc..
'National Carriers' could have access to things like mail boxes in buildings, and other things, possibly even co-use of USPS facilities, much like government has required last-mile fibre operators to share their gear with competitors (i.e. CLECs).
Something like that could work.
It doesn't, though. I lived ten years at an address they wouldn't deliver to. I had to rent a PO Box in the nearest town to get USPS mail, whereas UPS and FedEx delivered right to my door. I don't know where you're getting your information, but it isn't true.
Your mailbox might not be at your drive way, or on your front step, but a mailbox cluster in a central location.
From the USPS (emphasis mine):
> We’re proud to provide secure, reliable and affordable service to every address in the United States, plus its territories and its military and diplomatic installations worldwide.
> They have the legal obligation to deliver to all addresses. Do you have an address that has been assigned by your county?
While that might be true, in practicality it was not. It took me months at two different locations to get USPS to stop screwing things up or to give me access to a cluster. I think a lot of people here have had great experiences with USPS and are unable to imagine geographies where the system doesn't work too well.
Yes, it's a hard address which the fire department, for example, can use. And the USPS knew about it.
> Your mailbox might not be at your drive way, or on your front step, but a mailbox cluster in a central location.
My mailbox was in a post office miles away from my house, which I had to pay for. I've since moved.
That sounds similar, but is significantly different, and can be a major pain when dealing
with people or businesses that believe the myth, and try to send important paperwork to a physical address, which may
end up in our P.o. box if the USPS person handling it
recognizes the name and can match it to a box number.
Putting both the physical and P.o. box addresses
into an address block, in that order, works well,
but then shippers can balk at finding a box number.
(see also “Falsehoods programmers believe about addresses, etc.”)
They will deliver for every mail address. USPS designated non-deliverable addresses are typically new addresses that haven't been added, or as another commenter posted, an address that is unsafe to deliver.
Now, delivering to your mailbox might be a central mail hub that is part of your community/neighborhood, and not directly to your door, but that is still your address's mailbox.
Meanwhile Fedex, Amazon, UPS deliver right to their door. The quality and level of service of USPS is atrocious, and all over America they are cutting back on their last mile commitments while private companies continue to deliver right to the door.
Since around 2013, though, the USPS HAS mandated new communities get a single mail hub, but it still satisfies their rule of delivering for every address.
"Since around 2013, though, the USPS HAS mandated new communities get a single mail hub, but it still satisfies their rule of delivering for every address."
This in no way satisfies delivering to every address. It is a clear break from this commitment.
You can also require TO home delivery (but you will have to fight your HOA), if you are elderly or infirm. The handful of times HOAs have allowed this, there has typically been backlash toward the resident (anecdotes, not data).
No, it has not always been the case that the USPS mandated a reduced level of service to new housing developments. That is a big deal. They are effectively saying that they are not going to support door to door delivery to any housing community in America, regardless of what that housing community wants.
Living in NYC, my mail wasn't delivered to my door. Living in Houston, TX, my mail wasn't delivered to my door. Living in Webster, TX, my mail wasn't delivered to my door. Living in Pasadena, TX my mail wasn't delivered to my door.
My cabin in a small town in Colorado, mail is delivered to a letter box attached to my door (well used to, I have told the USPS to refuse all mail). My house in a small town in upstate NY, mail is delivered to the letter flap in my door. My friend who lives in a neighborhood in NJ built over 30 years ago, has to drive to get his mail because the community board chose no mail boxes.
The end result is the exact same, the USPS just decided to codify exactly what was already happening, so that they could standardize how they were supposed to use those mail rooms.
You are overly simplifying the cause and effect, mailbox down the road != usps delivering mail to everyone, thus I'm living in some fairy tail land that no longer exists.
You honestly do not see the difference between these two statements?
This is false, based on my own experience and the experience of others:
Packages obviously will still be sent for one, but also from a national security perspective it makes no sense to have private businesses running the entire delivery logistics network.
Lastly, if you see the government as enabling an economy for free markets, a state run postal service is a great backbone for that.
When you consider how much of US logistics is done by private companies, I'd say we're pretty much there and always were. Even if you dig into the USPS by itself, how much is done by private contractors? ..especially upstream from the local office.
That last mile of to-the-house delivery is a non-trivial thing but I'm not sure how essential it is.
Restated: it makes no sense to have private businesses running the entire electricity generation and delivery network. Yet here we are.
I suppose this was a restatement to point out a flaw in my previous point, but I do agree with the notion that critical national infrastructure should not involve private businesses.
Just because “here we are”, doesn’t mean it’s where we should be. There are different points of view on this so I don’t expect everyone to agree with this (market efficiencies, etc etc), but I just see it as a solution looking for a problem in many cases.
Downsizing the USPS, putting increasingly more onerous rules on it, then turning around and saying “well look, the private market is already doing so much, let’s just go with that”, seems shortsighted to me.
Single-sourcing electricity or package delivery or precursor raw materials always seems like a near-sighted move even if it is cheaper. There's a false economy to gigantism.
Here is my distillation of arguments for keeping the USPS:
* USPS is required to service areas which may not be covered by other carriers. A handful of commenters note, from first hand experience, that rural inhabitants may have to pick up mail from centralized depots away from their homes.
* USPS transactional mail serves those without internet access. The internet is effectively controlled by a handful of private entities. If internet access was universal and treated like a public utility, it is unclear if this second argument still holds.
Interestingly, nobody brought up mail-in voting and its importance to democracy. Nor is the environmental impact of the USPS apparently worthy of consideration.
My biggest takeaway is that the USPS is a sacred cow. Like the topics of gender and race, it's unwise to ask questions.
In reality there are lots of reasons to keep USPS, being able to get packages to all among them. Parent commenters have done a great job outlining some. I would encourage you to think more critically about reasons we would want a state-run postal system that don’t involve pet causes like union voting blocs.
How is that a "tiny" problem?
No. I'm going to commit to dismantling an outdated and unnecessary burden on society that serves mostly to deliver literal garbage to a box in my yard. Since it's easier to destroy than to build, I predict I will win in the long run.
I don't know what world you live in but the Postal System has been a running joke for at least the last 50 years. I mean there's even a meme called "going postal" where someone commits mass murder. When was this time you're imagining when it worked well?
Yes, that's what it means for it to have become a meme
I'm not going to ban you right now because it doesn't look like you've been making a habit of it, but please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to the rules from now on. We want thoughtful, substantive threads here.
I don’t think this is true. The Constitution provides Congress the power to “establish post offices and post roads” in Article I, Section 8, but the list of enumerated powers begins with the phrase “The Congress shall have Power”, which does not seem to establish a positive mandate to exercise such powers.
For instance, other enumerated powers include:
> To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
There hasn’t been a declaration of war since 1941, and it’s been even longer since Congress issued any letters of marque and reprisal. The postal service had the same constitutional status as pirates: Congress certainly could commission them if they want to, but it’s not strictly required.
We've had to ask you this repeatedly in the past. We ban accounts that ignore such requests, so please stop.
For the last 10 years my post office has had many problems. Packages where tracking shows it “out for delivery” but it never arrives. The electronic delivery email sends scans of letters “arriving today” that don’t come until the next day. Drivers who put “redelivery notices” in the mailbox rather than door saying I wasn’t available, backdated to previous days.
It’s very strange because contacting the postmaster just results in odd excuses, for example, I was told that the delivery driver was really busy that day and couldn’t make it to my house. I live in suburbia in a neighborhood with hundreds of houses.
So this post office sucks. It seems drivers suck, management sucks and that results in slow and missing mail.
I travel a bit and like to send post cards to family, including my own. A post card to my house consistently arrives 2-4 days after the card to a family member in a zip code 50 miles way, an even more remote suburb. This seems consistent from very remote locations as well as domestic. Curious.
My soft conclusion is that the “systematic” portions of the USPS are reliable and good. But the “local” portions are hit or miss.
We used to have a basket at the window where one could drop PO box mail for the same town, and it would be distributed directly. COVID killed that.
Granted, the nation is one-dimensional in shape so things are helped there, but the reliability is expected.
On one hand, I think overworking mail workers isn’t worth it. On the other hand tho, surely there’s a way to make this stuff work better than requiring 3 days to move a letter across town.
The whole problem is that USPS has a lot of obligations that those other courier services don't, and it has to amortize costs.
However, they have a fixed, predictable surface that they must cover and should be able to plan costs better than most organizations.
They also frequently increase prices so should be able to factor driving a jeep every day over, effectively, the surface area of every street in the US where someone lives.
So it seems like the cost is high, but predictable so just work it out.
It’s a weird situation where they have a monopoly, set a cost-plus price, and yet still fail to meet the need.
The GOP crusade against the post office is sort of like a weaponization of certain types of resentment in the south that worked it’s way into conservative media over the years at a national scale.
It’s an organization that has adapted over the centuries to new technology and needs. USPS fundamentally transformed most recently when rail-based mail sorting changed 50 years ago.
The difference now is that some people feel that government should not work.
So the problems that I’ve witnessed seem unrelated to budget pressure issues.
So I suppose it’s curious how some places are awesome despite the “crusade” while other places suck.
Of course I’ve only had my own experiences as I can’t find any real performance data. Seems actually odd how USPS doesn’t track these metrics much less publish them. For example, what percent letters delivered within 2-3 days. Why isn’t this tracked to the sorting level? Seems like it would actually be pretty easy to add a code to the postmark when received and track it in the sorting machines, etc etc. But this isn’t done.
Anyway, this may be the fault. But perhaps it’s a result of the crappiness and lack of efficiency, etc. It’s hard to tell, but hard for me to do anything with as it seems to me like performance depends so much on local post offices and performance was either good or bad consistently, over time.
If there was a crusade against the post office that affected performance, I would expect degradation over time, over all locations.
Look under Mailing Services Measurement Results: https://about.usps.com/what/performance/service-performance/
Each table for a service type has ~10 years worth of nationwide annual percent on-time delivery. It's harder to compare individual geographic areas (you can change the URL to go back a year or two, not sure where older reports are).
It’s very evident that the GOP has taken many actions to weaken the finances of the Postal Service and systematically politicize and dismantle parts of it.
It seems like suburban mail delivery should be easy to predict and factor into cost.
This video probably isn't the best source to build a persuasive argument from.
That is still a fantastic result. Considering the size of the delivery area and the very disparate abilities of the delivery network (rural, urban, suburbs, etc), I am impressed.
For an underfunded and constantly sabotaged public institution, it still appears to work reasonably well. And yes, the 55p price is absolutely cheap for the expected service. First-class mail in Europe is often 1-2€ for much smaller countries.
You can opt-out of the junk with a sticker on your mailbox anyway.
With respect to cost, it would be interesting to see how much FedEx would charge to provide the service with an explicit breakout of the charge for rural delivery.
ETA: There is a relatively short window now during which these changes can be rolled back, or people will just get used to the idea that "the reliable Post Office is another of those fantasies my parents' generation enjoyed, oh well: at least I can use UberMail for $22 a letter."
You are correct that there is a reason that they are being ripped out, but it's not because letter volume is down.
It's always been absurd to expect a government service to make a profit, and we've been talking about that for a long time, I don't think most people say it's Trump's fault.
Note that the law you are referring to required the USPS to set aside money for accrued benefits, just like any private company has to. Otherwise you end up with the situation that IL/CT/NJ and many other governments are subjecting their taxpayers to, which is raising taxes now to pay for labor performed decades ago. It’s nice for the taxpayers of decades ago, not so nice for the taxpayers of today.
I agree with that, the USPS should be allowed to set prices (and service levels) if it’s supposed to break even.
I'd rather service get subsidized than gutted, but I don't think politics are the only driver of change.
Mail issues can also be aggrevated by local policies. I know a former regional postmaster from Wisconsin. I've since learned that during the Scott Walker years, they changed the service in WI so that all mail in the entire state is sorted in Milwaukee. So if I'm up in NW WI and I send a letter to someone a town over, the mail needs to be driven all the way across the state to Milwaukee, sorted there, and then driven all the way back. He says it's making what use to be a 1-day delivery into 3+.
It seems mail the south is sent to Milwaukee, then split the north down the middle and send to Minneapolis or Green Bay
In the process of googling this up, I found some interesting information thats not being discussed... the post office presentations about this topic indicate over the last two decades first class mail volume has decreased about 70%, whereas junkmail has remained about the same. So much as organizations experience growing pains, it seems incredibly likely they will experience shrinking pains.
Certainly, as an older gen-x I remember spending like $5 per month on postage to send hand written personal checks to pay computer generated and mailed bills. Must have been paying ten monthly bills. Now, of course, that's all online and I write single digit of checks per year and use so little postage I now buy individually at time of use.
Meanwhile, I'm also working my day job from home, so I get a lot of stuff delivered, and from what I can tell all of the delivery services have delays right now. This includes DigiKey and Mouser, two of the most reliable suppliers on the planet.
I'm not sure Scooter is responsible for this one.
Thanks for the info!
Even the tracked Priority Mail packages have delays. The system promises 2-3 day delivery (and that's what customers are told during checkout, no way to change it) but it's often longer than that, particularly for larger/odd-shaped packages such as the long Priority Mail tubes.
In New England, a lot of problems can be traced to COVID outbreaks among USPS staff in processing centers. It was especially bad starting in November and continuing through February.
At one point the Post Office stopped scanning parcels (for us, in mid-December) and huge backlogs built up across the system. We heard from our USPS business rep in Boston that 200 workers were out sick at the giant processing facility in Nashua NH, leading to trucks arriving at the parking lot that couldn't be unloaded. They switched to processing Priority Mail at the facility in South Boston and everything else in Stamford CT, but they weren't able to work through the Nashua backlog until January. One Priority Mail parcel we shipped on Nov 30 that was supposed to be "3-day delivery" arrived at its destination in Kentucky 45 days later, on Jan. 13.
I probably had 50% of my on-site people quarantined during that period, and every vendor was impacted. IIRC, 90% of orders were delivered late.
I read awhile back (but can't find the source anymore, so grin of salt) that when USPS processing centers get overwhelmed they switch from a queue based system to FIFO. Which would make sense that some packages have been lost for months while newer ones seem to be going through the system just fine.
queue and FIFO are the same; from context it sounds like you mean LIFO.
8 years ago, when we started, we shipped exclusively in tubes. The loss rate with USPS was somewhere between 5-10%, it was too painful to measure exactly. I switched to a custom-sized "ear lock mailer" rectangular style box, and lost rates dropped below 1%.
My theory was that the cylinder shape was rolling off of some sorting line / conveyor, or possibly the tubes required a different (maybe manual) scan that had a much higher failure rate.
So I don't ship in tubes with USPS anymore (UPS and FedEx don't have same issue).
Either way, shapes that can roll are not the best choice for items we want to stay stationary!
The commercial package companies like UPS, Fedex, DHL, etc still have a better track record, but that too depends - a package from the UK was stuck in Brexit limbo for three months before finally arriving, battered by going around the carousel in the sorting / customs center and being sent back and forth.
Deprivatize the mail. Make it a respectable service again, with uniformed, unionized and full-time personnel. It doesn't have to be profitable, it's critical infrastructure. Have those that abuse it - e.g. junk mail sent with an address to avoid the 'no junk mail' stickers - pay extra.
And in the US, it's the post that connected the country; mail was THE biggest factor in the creation of things like stage coach services, the railway network, and commercial flights which other industries could latch onto. It should be treated with the same budgets and respect as e.g. the highway network. Defund the military and they could pay for the world's greatest postal service ten times over. If done right, it would put an end to the malpractices that companies like Uber and Amazon are trying to do with their employees.
Letter sorting machines are not helpful to deliver parcels.
Therefore, the USPS should replace some percentage of letter sorting machines with infrastructure suitable for sorting parcels.
In this case, it would 100% have been a non-story if it happened under any other president - the USPS were just reducing their letter sorting capacity because they've seen a massive, long-running reduction in letter volume, and I believe they'd been doing this under the previous administration too. Hell, if it wasn't in aid of the side the mainstream press supported, there'd probably be endless headlines about how these claims were endangering democracy by undermining trust in the election. (Especially the really ludicrous claims, like taking a pile of postboxes outside a company with a long-running contract to refurbish them and claiming it was part of an attempt to sabotage the election by stopping people voting by post...) Remember all the headlines after Trump lost?
Dude's nickname was "The Mailman", which I wondered about.
Turns out they used to say "The Mailman always delivers", so actually it was a compliment at the time. I think reputations change slowly, but this one had gotten to where I could no longer recognize the original intent.
Edit: Corrected price
I reasonably trust it'll get delivered on time, but I haven't tested it.
This is letter pricing, for packages the private options are usually cheaper.
The USPS has been legally blocked from adapting by anti-infrastructure ideologues (source https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLyU1WCQQ8A ) in order to set them up to fail.
In addition to this, recent administrations have been actively dismantling their infrastructure.
Any discussion of adaptivity or resilience is incomplete without considering these facts.
I know it's the norm here to avoid calling out one political party in particular, but it's way past time to point out that it's overwhelmingly Republicans who are crafting regulations to ensure the post office fails and turns from a world-class institution to something that can be pointed to as an example of government failing.
The post master general under Trump was trying to cut costs within the constraints placed on the USPS by congress, which is to reduce mail drop boxes and other activities. If congress wanted to invest in the USPS, they could, it just hasn't been done yet (no one seemed to agree on what that should look like).
One important part with the drop in mail volume is that the cost of mail delivery actually goes up. There are many fixed costs on delivering a letter, and if you can deliver 8 letters vs 4 letters to the same address and are forced to charge the same regardless of how many you end up delivering there, the overall delivery-cost of each letter goes up.
So either we need to let the USPS charge more for their services (to offset the reduced volume), or congress needs to decide to subsidize the USPS again to allow it to function properly.
Subsidizing would be difficult given how UPS and Fedex abuse the USPS today. (Those two carriers will push delivery to the USPS when they know its unprofitable for them to deliver any given package). So any subsidy that it provided to the USPS will also subsidize Fedex and UPS unless the rules are changed there as well.
But because an ideologically driven congress mandated USPS fund its retirement contributions in a highly conservative way HN sees it as evil.
Frankly, I'm happy that a government institution isn't playing fast and loose with people's retirements (ask Illinois or New Jersey how that turns out). If that makes it hard to balance the books then congress should either kick in some $$ to cover the difference or let them change their rates.
I rarely see people complain about the pension fund per se
"You can have a package from the US Virgin Islands delivered to Guam for around ten dollars".
I looked this up for a flat rate box and this is true.
That's not a representative random sample of the mail the post office delivers. It likely oversamples from long tail requests: reporters are likely to choose zanier locations, and even the fact that they're sending the mail (instead of some kind of an institution) makes for a weird sample.
Now, I don't particularly love that the modal mailing is a piece of junk, or that I have to rely on mail to receive certain kinds of institutional communications, but there's no particular reason to think the experiment revealed a failure to meet their SLO.
He mailed a lot of things to himself, but there were two that stood out.
One was a brick, IIRC not wrapped, just taped address and stamps to it. It arrived with some delay, in a bag, smashed to pieces, likely in search of drugs.
The second was a full-sized cod or similar fish. Can't recall if he wrapped it. In either case, the fish did not arrive.
Instead he got a stern warning that if anything like that ever happened again, he wouldn't get any more mail delivered, ever...
IIRC apart from those two, most of the weird attempts were delivered successfully.
There are probably similar pages like it but that’s always the one that comes to my mind when people talk about mailing odd things.
The quote system could have everything from "1 hour" for door-to-door direct courier (probably costing $50), up to "30 days" for really low priority stuff. The system would give you a barcode to print on your envelope/package instead of a stamp, and an API so it can be integrated into business processes, apps, etc.
Then use a fancy algorithm to set pricing to perfectly fill every truck, reduce load at busy times, etc.
There are plenty of people like amazon who will happily use cheap delivery capacity when there is half a truck going in some direction, and deliver by some other route/method when the truck driver is on holiday so mail is expensive.
Then the problem becomes that due to shortage of people and backlogs, the prices just keep going up and up if you want it on a 'reasonable' time.
The main issue that seems to need fixing is capacity and this won't solve it. Probably overall but also seasonal due to COVID. I wish more of my taxes would go towards this (and that they switch the postmaster general).
> There are plenty of people like amazon who will happily use cheap delivery capacity when there is half a truck going in some direction, and deliver by some other route/method when the truck driver is on holiday so mail is expensive.
They do this already though. USPS is used a lot for their last mile and they have UPS and Fedex too as well as their own fleet of delivery drivers in some regions and planes and trucks for distribution around the country.
As evidenced by the fact the vast majority of letters are delivered, it seems capacity isn't the issue.
If there were a capacity issue, they would be falling further and further behind as letters were being posted quicker than they could be sorted and delivered.
Instead the issue is loadbalancing. Some centers have too much load, while others have spare capacity. That changes day to day, increasing delivery times.
The fix is variable pricing to get each local sort center closer and more consistently towards its capacity without exceeding it.
> I read awhile back (but can't find the source anymore, so grin of salt) that when USPS processing centers get overwhelmed they switch from a queue based system to ~~FIFO~~ LIFO. Which would make sense that some packages have been lost for months while newer ones seem to be going through the system just fine.
If this is true, it could explain it. And it wouldn’t surprise me if they did to keep the majority if the system working.
This does lead to a capacity issue and explains why some might not make it while the majority did.
Is this a bad example or are paychecks a normal thing in US ? If yes, are they sent by mail ? I'm just curious about how this works.
Every time I read an article about money in the US, I have the feeling that a lot of money transaction (paycheck, paying your bills ...) is done by paper/mail. I'm surprised each time I read this since I never had to think about paying my bills or receiving my pay on my account.
I'm not even sure my parents ever get paid by check (like, with some sort of paper that you have to give to your bank) but here, maybe I'm wrong. And I know it can sometimes happen here for short contracts to get paid by check, but even in this use case, it's pretty rare.
If I'm right, is this more a cultural thing or some sort of technical limitation ?
On top of this, something like 5-6% of Americans households don't have a bank account at all. The ones that do get paid by a steady income in this category expect to get a paycheck and cash it at a bank or check cashing service (generally with a fee).
Personally, I'm more worried as a consumer that legal notice delivery is unreliable. My storage unit (Public Storage) jacked my rent up by over 20% without notice. They claim they mailed notice, and the lease specifically has a provision that there is a presumption of delivery when things are posted via first class mail.
In my own country, the government owned postal service is complete trash. Yeah, it’s almost “free”, but we’re paying for it in taxes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually costs way more than private carriers. Not to mention that the workers are incredibly lazy and rude, and opening hours are ridiculous. I’ve ordered a package which took 5 days to get here from the other side of the planet, by private carriers, and then it got stuck in the national mail service for 3 months. The seller was kind enough to resend the package, but I’m not sure if it’ll ever make it either.
What are you gonna do, choose the competitors? They still get their check.
I don't understand. USPS is not a business. It's civic infrastructure. There is no way any competitor will agree to delivering a letter from one end of the country to another for $0.55.