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Our USPS Post Office At Work

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Valued Member
United States
175 Posts
Posted 09/17/2022   3:47 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add moneil to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The postmistress of the small rural post office closest to me is often "on another assignment" (they use her for training a lot I'm told). That facility has never been without stamps, but sometimes the stamp I want isn't in the drawer and the substitute clerk doesn't have keys to the safe. However, the clerk can usually tell me when the postmistress will be back or take my name and phone number. Several times I've been called to be informed that the stamps I want are now available. She has told me that because of the size classification of this post office she can only order so many sheets of particular stamps. When she has sold out of one I want she'll call around to other post offices to find it for me. My service and mail delivery experience has generally been very good.

For over a decade I was a representative for a livestock artificial insemination company and our product was shipped by liquid nitrogen vapor shippers, which the postal service didn't handle. My experience with UPS was often not good. Until recently I was a part time first aid and CPR instructor for the American Red Cross, which uses FedEx for all shipments. Again, I was not impressed with their service.

The posted news story is concerning. However I've often found that news stories written by reporters with no background or experience in a particular field (agriculture and food production in my case) can frequently be missing a lot of nuance or be completely inaccurate.
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Valued Member
United States
77 Posts
Posted 09/26/2022   2:15 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Letterpress to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Now the questions not addressed is why were the keys not collected when the employee retired and if they were, why they were not returned to the office for which one was required.

This kind of thing is common with government and quasi-government organizations. We could really use a taxonomy to help clarify "this kind of thing", but academia has really let us down in terms of that kind of useful and advanced research, especially if it undermines their ideology. In some cases, the incompetence looks like a linear or additive worsening of generic incompetence you'd find even in the private sector. In other cases, there seem to be wholly unique categories of incompetence and inefficiency in government agencies that we don't find in the private sector.

Generalized apathy seems like a recurring issue. I don't know if that's a matter of degree worse than private sector averages, or substantively unique. Especially in the northeast US there are stories of rail workers, transportation workers, and the like who simply don't show up for work for years, or rarely. There are different angles there. The key seems to be that pockets of apathy and sloth can exist for decades in such a way that incredible things are tolerated that simply aren't in the private sector. A lot of people drawn to those jobs just want one job or employer for life, they want it to be pretty much guaranteed, and they just want to sort of exist, comfortably, for life, with minimum effort. There will always be a selection bias issue with jobs that have extreme job security, and it won't generally select for the best and most proactive workers. Proactive workers will be acculturated over time anyway.

I always found it weird that people make so many excuses for the postal service, and have this denial of reality regarding government agencies and the culture and psychology they reliably foster. It's now 2022. The formal economics here was mostly nailed down by 1950, and you don't need formal economics to grasp the human dynamics of coercive monopolies, government agencies, etc. Reality is what it is, and no one knows how to make coercive monopolies efficient and high performing over the long term. I assume people know the story of Lysander Spooner and the American Letter Mail Company he was frustrated with the post office monopoly, put up a shingle, beat their prices (and probably their service), so they got Congress to shut him down and formally lock down their mail monopoly. I can't imagine any excuse for a coercive monopoly on letter mail, or really anything. It matters less these days, except that they use their mail monopoly to help undercut private carriers on package rates. It does get frustrating sometimes though because they put packages in our mailbox (cluster) that cannot be removed incredibly, the carrier's rear box opening is larger than the resident's front opening, so objects can be inserted through the rear that cannot be removed from the front... When that first happened in 1880 or 1909, it should've been a Doh! moment, fixed forever. But not with these guys. And you can't call anyone to tell them. 1-800-ASK-USPS doesn't actually enable you to ask anyone anything every branch in their phone tree dead ends you with no way to talk to a person. I've never encountered a service number that did that.
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Edited by Letterpress - 09/26/2022 2:16 pm
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Posted 09/26/2022   4:52 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Well said Letterpress. I offer the following government employee story.

In the 90's I worked as a Project Engineer for a time in a construction related agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. There was another engineer in the Boston office that was never assigned any projects. He had been there for 23 years when I first met him. He sat in a cubicle full of investment materials and every day at lunch he went out to trade stocks and do other financial errands. I learned that he had not been assigned a project in 19 years because no facility, architect/engineer or contractor would work with him. He was in a union. There had been a couple of attempts to dislodge him, but they failed. He had risen to the top pay grade. He was in his 50's, lived at home with his mother and socked away every penny he ever made (earned would be the wrong word).

I moved on to the private sector to actually get things done. He retired from the Commonwealth eventually with a full pension.

I never met his equivalent in the private sector, and I know why.
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Valued Member
United States
23 Posts
Posted 09/26/2022   11:27 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Tiger Dude to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Could you expand upon that? What are they allowed or not allowed to have?

- They are not allowed to charge what they want.
- First Class mail must subsidize other activities like direct mail from businesses (junk mail). Businesses know how to keep it that way through Congress.
- They are forced to keep post offices open that don't need to be because of political pressure.

Basically, they are perfectly designed (By the US Government) to get the results they get.
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Posted 09/27/2022   12:20 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Lot of misinformation to unpack but it is late. Quickly though:


Quote:
First Class mail must subsidize other activities like direct mail from businesses (junk mail). Businesses know how to keep it that way through Congress.


Backwards. First class mail gets subsidized for lack of a better term by other classes of mail. It costs more to process FCM and it is a loser for USPS even though they have a monopoly.

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Valued Member
United States
23 Posts
Posted 09/28/2022   11:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Tiger Dude to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
GAO thinks first class mail is their most profitable product

https://www.gao.gov/blog/u.s.-posta...e%20product.
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Edited by Tiger Dude - 09/28/2022 11:16 pm
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3567 Posts
Posted 09/29/2022   06:10 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
In a company like the USPS. the profit/loss for each service depends on how one allocates fixed costs especially when services use the same fixed cost.

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Al
Edited by angore - 09/29/2022 06:11 am
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