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  1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Save the US Post Office

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by GingerCoffee, Apr 19, 2014.

    This may not apply if you don't live in the US, and you may disagree, fine - go away ;).

    I rely on the post office because I sell a lot on EBay. I'm familiar with the move by the right wing in the government to make it look like the post office would be better run by private companies. They passed legislation putting an economic burden on the post office no private company is required to do, that is to send millions in profits every year to the US treasury under the premise this is needed to guarantee pensions. By doing so the legislation put an undue burden on the post office and they've had financial trouble since.

    The goal of this legislation is like a lot of the goals of the right wing, privatize everything and I'm sure there is plenty of lobbying by Fed Ex, UPS, and now Staples to force the post office out of business because they want that market share.

    The trouble is, once privatized, there is nothing to keep costs down (competition is a farce, these companies divide up the market share instead of competing for it, and they also increase profits by underpaying workers) and, there's no guarantee they won't just start lopping off unprofitable rural residents from their service area.

    But the assault on public services is relentless and now Staples smelled blood and is moving in for the kill. They've bid to replace post offices. It's a bad deal.

    There will be a day of action coming up on Apr 24th. Take a minute to look at the issues, feel free to debate them in this thread. Trust me, I have the facts that support my POV, I've kept up on this for a long time. :)

    Consider joining in the day of action.

    http://stopstaples.com/
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'd hate to see that happen... like so much of what the right thinks is right, it's just tossing the baby with the bathwater... for political and monetary gain [the legislators' lobby-lined pockets, not the publics'!]...

    don't see much hope in a 'day of action' but if it can't hurt..................

    thanks for bringing this up, ginger... i live in a tiny town where i can't get much of what i need on a regular basis, so have to rely on mail orders, the majority of which come via usps [m best friend mail lady who drives her standard station wagon from the passenger seat!]... did you know that ups will often pass their deliveries off to the usps?... fed ex may do it, too... so, if even those giants are using the gov't system, what does that say about those who want to go the other way?...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  3. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    The government has already privatized some parts of the post office. They are allowing places like Office Max (if that is the wrong place sorry) to take in people's items for U.S. Postal shipping. Some people like it, because the desk in these places stays open the stores regular hours which is often more hours than the regular post office.
     
  4. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    The USPS has a big problem, all right, but it isn't the eeeevil 'right wing'; it's the corrupt, venal US Congress. The requirement that the postal service set aside money to fund their over-paid employees' pensions was part of the process of semi-privatisation, and was demanded by the postal employees' labor unions.

    The real issue is, every time the folks who run the USPS try to institute changes that will reduce costs, like ending Saturday (and maybe Tuesday) delivery, some group of congresspeople rises up and prevents the change from happening (privatised or not, the USPS has to beg Congress for anything it wants), in the name of 'protecting their constituents', which means pandering to the handful of old ladies for whom daily delivery of Publisher's Clearing House junk mail constitutes their social lives.

    Would anyone here really mind if the mail arrived five, rather than six days a week ?
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if all that junk mail cost the senders what it truly represents in the accumulated cost of man hours, machinery, gas consumption, etc., the usps would be one of the top money-makers in the US, instead of one of the biggest black holes...

    the lobbyists for those junk mail producers are the ones who should be sitting in solitary, paying for their crime...
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always hate all the griping about the USPS. The US has some of the best, cheapest, and most reliable mail delivery in the entire world. I often hear of people who mail things to various countries, and they essentially cannot rely on the public mail system, because it is so unreliable - either the packages or letters never arrive, or they arrive months late, so everything has to be sent by a private carrier, which can be quite expensive.

    I'm not saying I've never had an issue with a postal delivery. But for the most part, you can be pretty damn certain that something you put in the mail is going to arrive in a day or a few days to its intended destination. And it's a bargain -- you can send something from Hawaii to New York for about fifty cents. (Albeit something small and relatively lightweight.) There is no other entity in the whole world where you could send anything for that distance, for that low a cost, and be pretty damn confident it's going to get there relatively quickly.

    It is, in some ways, sad that the use for a lot of mail has decreased -- with email, online bill paying, and picture sharing via social media or email/text message, I certainly use the USPS far less than I used to. But there are still times I need it. I'm willing to forego Saturday delivery, if that helps out the USPS -- they eliminated Sunday delivery back in 1912. I also do see it as problematic that every town wants a post office, so it's impossible to close some of them -- we end up with many very small offices that aren't even open all that late (like 4:00), and there's only one person working there, and he/she gets a lunch break from like, 12-1. There are about 4 or 5 post offices that would be pretty convenient for me to drive to when I have the need to personally visit a post office. But only one is a bigger post office, open during lunch, and with several people working there. It seems silly to me that there are these other 4 post offices that have to be maintained, and they're all so close together, when having maybe even a slightly bigger post office, perhaps even with longer hours, could serve the same number of people, probably more efficiently.

    But, as far as the private sector doing better -- that's been proven wrong time and time again. While the private sector *can* do some things better or just as well, it is certainly not a given. And even companies that were long-standing and no one thought would ever go away can crumble and vanish, seemingly out of nowhere. And then what do you do?
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
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  7. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    The problem with the USPS is that it is such an easy job that people will work long past retirement making tons of money and it drives up the cost of the USPS to stay open. If people would just work their 25-30 years and retire and allow younger people to get a job, instead of milking $30+ an hour out of the system, things would continue to run smoothly and more people would be able to get jobs.
     
  8. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I was totally gonna sign that petition, and then they asked for my phone number, so they could text me. And I was all: Hell fucking nope.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You don't have to put that in. I didn't put a phone number or an email address.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Your version of the facts differs from mine so I did some investigating.

    First, why the resentment of people making a living wage, or do you believe the 'overpaid' myth?

    I don't see any "overpaid" positions in this 2014 salary chart:
    http://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/US-Postal-Service-Salaries-E3032.htm

    They do have good benefits according the the USPS website. Nothing wrong with that. It was the standard you know, before the assault on the middle class.


    The second claim you made that doesn't concur with what I thought is that the Postal Accountability Act was pushed by the postal workers union. So I looked into that. There is some truth to it, but it's like a lot of legislation, in order to get somethings you want, you have to give up other things. Like Clinton who had to put some Abstinence Only Education provisions in the Welfare Reform Bill. It doesn't mean that was anything Clinton supported, it was something he was forced to accept or veto the bill over it.

    But I digress:

    http://my.firedoglake.com/kaytillow/2011/09/26/whats-the-real-story-behind-the-postal-crisis/
    I have read "The Shock Doctrine" so the following from FDL fits with my view of the world:
    Your version, on the other hand, is that the unions asked for this law. That didn't make any sense. Matt Taibbi investigated the lobbying behind the Postal Accountability Act:

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/dont-let-business-lobbyists-kill-the-post-office-20120423

    Still sounds like lobbyists interested in taking over the post office business and resenting the competition had more to do with the bill than postal unions.

    But there are other ways to check out this discrepancy of who promoted this bill so I didn't stop there. I looked at who sponsored the bill.

    https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/hr6407

    It was sponsored by Republican Tom Davis III of Virginia, and cosponsored by another Republican and 2 Democrats including Henry Waxman, which was discouraging to read.

    Waxman explains his position on his Congressional web site:

    Rep. Henry A. Waxman’s Record on Postal Reform

    Waxman notes the benefits in more control at the PostMaster level (as opposed to Congress) and claimed the benefits were overall positive in terms of pension payments. But Bush threatened to veto the bill unless it included the strangling payment requirements:

    I would have a lot more empathy for that position had Bush not also spent many billions on an unfunded war at the same time he lowered taxes on the rich.

    Waxman continues to defend the bill, I'm not sure how the current Democratic Congress feels about it. It seems a simple solution would just be to spread out the payment term. I can't believe this bill is benefitting anyone but the vultures. And I'm not impressed the Democrats continue to be ineffective countering the toll being taken on services that benefit the middle class while lowering the burden on the wealthiest citizens. The wealthy could at least pay their fair share of the Iraq and Afghan wars. But that's another subject.

    I appreciate your opinion. I know a bit more now. But I do think this initial tradeoff in the legislation needs some serious course correction. And yes, The right wing is still eeeevil in my eyes. It's just that unfortunately the left wing isn't that far behind. The influence of money is corrupting both sides.

     
  11. Lewdog
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    Ginger with all those facts, what is the average number of years a person puts in before retiring with the USPS?

    Those charts just give the average between the lowest and the highest, it isn't based on a real average which would include the number of people making a certain wage. That's the problem because a great deal of the workers are on the higher end of the scale because so many people that get a job with the USPS don't quit or leave.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    Not sure what your point it. If you want to argue the myth is true that postal workers are seriously overpaid, you are the one who should provide that data. The site I linked to posted the salary range, not simply the averages.

    Postal workers make less than nurses, police, and fire fighters in this area.
     
  13. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    That's not what I am saying. Your average salary show is the average from only what the lowest person make to the highest person makes. It isn't a 'true' average.

    If you have 2,000 people making the lowest across the country, and 10,000 making the highest because they won't retire, then yes I think they are very much so overpaid. My aunt is a postal worker that makes over $40 an hour because she won't retire. Three young people could get a job to support their families if she would just retire. That's the problem.
     
  14. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is interesting. The need for postal services has skyrocketed over the past years over here, and e.g. the Finnish Post Office delivers the shipments for DHL Express, a German courier corporation and a competitor of UPS and FedEx. This system works because people are ordering so much stuff from overseas, especially the US and China. A courier company ships and clears the stuff to the EU and the national postal service delivers it to the people. It is pretty much a necessity to collaborate, though the idea of privatizing the national postal service entirely is ludicrous. Even though the US probably hasn't a similar import traffic as the EU, I would've expected that in this day and age of eBay, Amazon, and other web shops, the demand for postal services would be high. Consumers also have more options. When I order stuff from iHerb, I can choose shipping between USPS, DHL Express and UPS (whenever I can, I choose USPS, but sometimes the value of the shipment is too high for their service).

    However, I can see why this would be bad, and the rate of service could seriously drop if your post office was taken over by private companies. But could it really happen?
     
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  15. GingerCoffee
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    It's not a average, it's a range. It shows what a postal worker makes. The 'won't retire' business, what is that about? It's not salaries that is the problem with the financial situation at the USPS.

    Like I said, switching to Staples is not going to save money, history demonstrates it's only going to shift money into the hands of the owners. Postal costs will not go down.
     
  16. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    How can it not save money? If you have a person that makes $8 an hour doing the same job that two people making $15 an hour normally does, and the front of the Post Office doesn't have to stay open, how can it not save money?
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    Because the extra $7 is pocketed by Staple's owners as profit. It does not go toward lowering shipping costs.
     
  18. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Are you sure about that? That's not always true. Many retailers will take on these types of things by putting the service in the back of the store and hoping that by coming to the store for that specific purpose, that by walking through the isles to the back of the store they will end up buying something to make it worth their while. It's part of the science of retail. I had to deal with it myself at GNC. If you notice, some stores have a scale in front of their store. It usually costs $.50. GNC only gets like 10% of the total take from the scale. Where they make their money is on the number of people that have to come into the store to ask for change for $1.00 to use the scale. Every addon sale to people asking for change is where the profit is made.
     
  19. GingerCoffee
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    While it's counterintuitive, going by history, I'm sure. Even if the move draws more business into the store, they are planning on people having no competitive choice. They'll have the extra store traffic regardless of the price of shipping. It's a recipe for no more than increased profits.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    neither did i... and my 'vote' was accepted without any of that...
     
  21. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Yes, and should. Nurses and police officers and firefighters are required to have extensive training and work under often dangerous conditions. Near as I can tell, the only requirement needed to deliver mail is the ability to read. Otherwise, it's the same job as delivering newspapers, only they get to work six days a week rather than seven and don't have to do their deliveries in the middle of the night.

    Around here, anyway, most deliveries which come from, say, Amazon, are shipped by UPS or Fedex to our local post office and the mail carrier delivers the package to your house, so the USPS is getting some of that business.

    Don't get me wrong - I think it's great that I can send a letter anywhere in the US for less than $.50, and I don't begrudge postal employees their jobs or their wages. My point was that the only thing standing in the way of a slimmed-down, efficient, profitable postal service is the US Congress, on both sides of the aisle, with an assist from the labor unions.
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    I think you'd be surprised how little the police actually spend on training. Perhaps I should have said postal workers earn less than garbage collectors. There's no reason it should be a minimum wage job just because it doesn't require a college degree.

    "Around here" simply means your personal anecdote. I ship several times a week and the post office is the most convenient and least expensive shipper in my personal anecdote.

    Similar figures were posted above and if this source is accurate, here it is again:

    So how big is this mundane business of delivering stuff? How important is it?
    So the idea the post office is some fading aging business is a false one.
     
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