Update: Want to cut back on the size of bloated government bureaucracy and save money for yourself and make the economy more efficient? Want to shrink an agency that employs over half a million people? Move all your banking, bill-pay, and other correspondence online. Then see at the bottom of this post for ways to cut your burden of junk mail. Some steps are easy to do. Also, every time you get junk mail see if they have a web site and then go to it and look for a way to cut off junk mail from them. I've just done this for half a dozen places.
The US Postal Service is bleeding billions of dollars because people are shifting to online everything (ordering, online bill-paying, and online correspondence with friends, businesses, governments, etc). In spite of this its most recent union agreement granted its overstaffed unionized workforce cost-of-living salary increases and raises and a no layoff clause. The USPS wants escape from having to set aside money for future retiree health care benefits.The USPS, unlike most employers, actually pays retiree health care benefits - at your expense. This Businessweek article takes a long look at the depth of the problems at the post office.
The USPS has stayed afloat by borrowing $12 billion from the U.S. Treasury. This year it will reach its statutory debt limit. After that, insolvency looms.
On Mar. 2, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe warned Congress that his agency would default on $5.5 billion of health-care costs set aside for its future retirees scheduled for payment on Sept. 30 unless the government comes to the rescue. "At the end of the year, we are out of cash," Donahoe said. He noted that the unusual requirement was enacted five years ago by Congress before mail started to disappear.
Bricks-and-mortar post offices and hand-delivered mail are so 20th century. Why bail out a relic from the past? I rarely even look at what I get in the mail because months go by between the arrival pieces of mail that matters. In fact, as the ratio of useless-to-useful mail has gone up into the hundreds it is a problem that I do not want to look thru hundreds of mail items just to find one letter that matters. You have the same problem? Then on top of this we are supposed to subsidize our getting pelted with junk mail?
How can this be? Money politics. Bribery has bought (or at least rented) friends in the Democratic Party.
Democrats receive the vast majority of the contributions made by postal workers' unions, according to campaign finance records, so they tend to be sympathetic. President Barack Obama inserted a proposal in his 2012 budget to absolve the USPS of $4 billion of its retiree health-care liabilities in 2011.
The union's influence-buying has yielded them a no-layoffs contract. So Postmaster General Donahoe has to take a much more gradual approach to cost cutting.
He wants permission from Congress to cut weekly delivery from six to five days, which he says will save $3 billion a year. He says he wants to reduce the USPSís headcount by 20 percent over the next five years through attrition; the agencyís union contracts prohibit layoffs.
Donahoe isn't legally allowed to close a post office just to save money. Really. The US government can't run a business. Donahoe wants to shift post offices into small presences in stores where store employees (non-union usually) can service the sporadic flow of customers. Makes sense. Could be done much faster and save billions of dollars. The article cites examples of European nations which have outsourced most post offices to convenience stores and other retail outlets. These European nations forced their postal services to compete. We need their reforms here. Read the full article for details.
The US government is running a massive and unsustainable deficit. Economic growth will not save the government by boosting tax revenue. We are now in a low growth era. The liability side of the balance sheet (accumulated debts, Peak Oil, aging population, and declining skill sets of work force due to immigration) are going to swamp whatever is going right. Therefore the US is headed for a sovereign debt crisis. Really, our governing class needs to start acting like we are in a real crisis.
Update: Hey, some web sites provide easy ways to opt out of junk mail and catalogs for your physical mail box. Some associations of direct mailers have online forms for turning off the junk. I just went thru and listed myself on DirectMail.com's Mail Preference Registry. Opting out there is easy to do. I also registered (more steps required) for the DMAchoice.org mail preference service of the Direct Marketing Association (which one web page claims can cut your junk mail by 75%). Once you've registered and logged back in from the email response you need to go into each category and click on the bottom right button on each category to opt out of the entire category. You can also selectively do steps for individual companies listed there. Those are my first two steps to cut back on junk mail. If you are like me and rarely find anything useful in junk mail I suggest you do likewise.
Update II: To get rid of credit card or insurance mail offers use OptOutPrescreen.com which tells Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion credit report firms not to use your credit info to help credit card and insurance companies know to mail to you.
Also, you can turn off Valassis Red Plum and Cox Target Media ValPak. For other web pages and also email addresses to send opt-out junk mail requests to see the Ecycycle.org opt-out suggestion list, the WikiHow Get Rid Of Junk Mail,and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse fact sheet on junk mail.
After taking the steps above after a month to wait for the flow to stop I am going to make it a habit to look at all remaining junk mail and go to their web sites to try to get off their lists. My hope is to make arrival of physical mail a rare event.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2011 May 28 01:15 PM Economics Government Effectiveness|