Economiasma – Return To Sender – November 28th 2011 – by Bill Dahl

Here’s my Weekly Whiff of Economic $cents for November 28, 2011:

It’s that time of year….for the last two weeks our snail mailbox has bulged with junk mail from every imaginable (and unimaginable) source. Our digital in boxes are being pounded hourly by every retailer on Earth (Earlier today, my wife had 535 emails in her in-box having been away from her laptop for 10 days). Mail…coming at us from every conceivable source and direction. Heck, we’ve never heard of most of these folks that seem to have our addresses. The mail has become burdensome – a nuisance – a pest. Actually, it’s become primary source of fodder for our recycling bin. It’s in the spirit of recycling ideas that I write today.

You won’t find me in agreement with columnist George Will very often. However, his November 25, 2011 op-ed in the Washington Post is an exception. It seems to me that although the U.S. Congress cannot agree about basically anything that might translate into a comprehensive action agenda for moving this country forward, perhaps we’re  going to forced to chisel out one piece of a solution at a time. Re-engineering the U.S. Postal Service may be a great place to start.

As Will points out in his column, “USPS lost $5.1 billion in the latest fiscal year — after serious cost-cutting. Total 2012 losses may exceed $14 billion, a figure larger than the budgets of 35 states. “

Wow! I mean can you agree that this is unacceptable? If the USPS was a private company, there would be a horde of management consultant types walking around the place examining both the internal operations and the external reality to determine the viability of this outfit. Again, assuming the USPS was a private company, the management consultants would likely recommend one or more of the following:

a. Sell the entire USPS operation to an amalgam of private equity funds.

b. Arrange an immediate injection of very expensive capital.

c. Trim the labor force substantially (see Will’s column – Labor costs at USPS are  at 80% of overall costs.

d. Substantially reduce the daily operational requirements of the enterprise (Translation: reduce the number of days mail is delivered in America).

e. Identify strategic partners who might be willing to take the risk of doing certain aspects of the USPS business model profitably.

f. File a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition to reorganize the whole bag of mail.

From where we sit in our family, we would be fine with mail delivery once a week. Frankly, we’d even go pick it up at a location within a reasonable proximity. We have to go to a USPS location to obtain the postage for outgoing packages etc.

You see, oftentimes, moving forward  requires leaving something behind. It may initially seem like sacrifice, feel strange, uncertain or even uncomfortable. Change is like that. It contains each of the aforementioned dimensions.

Are you willing to sacrifice to move forward together as a nation…or is your commitment to the future of our country just a bag of hot air? Change that involves a sacrifice by all is a notion that will carry the mail for this country. Let’s discard all our unique notions about the inconveniences we may suffer from. This is simply one opportunity to come together and leave behind some notions about inconvenience and sacrifice that are now clearly labeled, return to sender.

You can email or snail mail this to your elected representatives. The operating losses are yours – their mine – their ours – our U.S. tax dollars.  After reading this, maybe you might prefer the USPS to return to sender – your portion of the $14 billion dollars they are projected to lose in 2012.

Fat chance…you can throw that last one in your recycle bin.

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