Ok, so I posted an article/press release from the United States Postal Service on their announcement that Saturday Service for letter mail would end in August. This drew an immediate and very lengthy comment from my friend Jerry Hempstead of Hempstead Consulting. Jerry is one of the true experts on parcel and mail in the United States. He also writes the longest streams of consciousness on a blackberry of anybody I know...
His "comment" below, I thought was salient enough to warrant publication as a post. See below. Jerry pretty much calls BS on the USPS announcement regarding the political impact of their announcement.
I don't believe for one moment that the USPS will suspend Saturday delivery of first class mail in August (although I believe they should go to home delivery 3 days a week (either Monday, Wednesday, Friday for some addresses and then Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday for the remainder). (you could cut the workforce in half...have you really looked at what comes into your mailbox lately - I could live with delivery once a month frankly) Grant that with this announcement the USPS clearly states that parcels (yes even your prescriptions with your 90 day supply of drugs) are not affected at all by this decision and I even heard a conversation in DC about delivering parcels 7 days a week!
An elimination of one of the six delivery days for first and third class means then one sixth of the USPS APWU force, 330,000 strong, logically sends 55,000 people to the unemployment office (or forced to retire, in order to gain the savings the USPS says will come with this decision. Even if the number was 10% of that, the White House will not be responsible for that many layoffs, and the USPS reports to the Executive branch.
What the Postmaster General wants (and needs) is relief from the retiree health pre-funding requirement as written, and a recalculation of the number of employees for which it has to pay workmen's comp for. If he can get that from Congress then the USPS runs in the black. Keep in mind that when the laws were originally crafted there was no problem with either funding requirement and the money to pay those were in the formula to determine the price of postage we have been paying. But as we know the Internet happened, first class declined, the number of people needed to deliver mail was reduced and so on. Ergo, the law needs to be fixed.
Congress was distracted with the election last year and nothing was done to address the problem. This year the fiscal cliff, the attack in Benghazi, the control of guns, immigration, the budget dispute, the sequestration and so on distract Congress and the USPS can't get anyone on The Hill to pay attention to fixing the USPS budget issues. What happened this past week was a salvo fired across the bow of the sitting Congress to get off their butts and do something. In order to get their attention he did something very dramatic which got lots of air and print time. The PMG got the noise level up and some on The Hill are now paying attention. I don't believe the PMG has the legal authority to do what he did (but I'm not a lawyer). I think he needs a legislative change to one sentence of law and also the approval of the Postal Regulatory Commission which I do not believe they have. I have spent lots of time in DC around postal issues and I have become very cynical of the process and the theater that happens to get things done. It's my humble opinion that what we saw yesterday was Kabuki theatre being played to the hilt. I do believe the PMG should be allowed to close the unproductive post offices, at will. Currently it's an impossible and politically charged issue to do so. It's prudent business to close facilities that because of changing demographics, and no longer make logical sense to keep open. The Congress interferes with any closure.
I think the USPS should price its business like any other business to cover its costs and have a reserve. That's prudent business. The Congress interferes with rate setting and price changes. There are incredible lobby's in DC that stand in the way of this. The USPS should be free to modify its service standards and network to best serve the public and to use modern technology. The Congress pushes back fearing a plant closure or layoffs in their districts. It's the people we sent to Washington (both sides of the aisle) that are the problem and the USPS is just not a priority for any of them. There is no glamour or accolades for someone working on Postal issues when other topics will get you five minutes of prime time air play. And the press vilify the elect when they put forth proposals because the APWU and the Lobby's don't want any pain for their constituents. Its a microcosm of how we currently run and fund our government. So the USPS will run out of cash this year, and the Congress can just raise the borrowing limit of the USPS to pay their bills. Just one mans opinion, I could be wrong.