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Post Office Failure

Original post made by Another example, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2011

For those who don't have time to read the following interesting current summary of the Post Office Status, here it is:

- Post Office is once again on the verge of bankruptcy
- Many other national post offices have made the transition to the Internet world, but ours has not
- Unions have stood in the way of progress and now the Post Office is grossly inefficient and does not match declining letter volume
- Even though it is on the verge of bankruptcy, one union negotiated pay increases for the next several years
- Obama has tried to give his union/labor friends another favor by letting the Post Office pass on making a $5B retirement medical benefit payment

So when when all this comes crashing down, who is going to pick up the tab for all the unfunded retirement costs, we the tax payer. Rather than forcing the Post Office to make changes now, our politicians allow it to continue to fail.

Just one more of many reasons why the US is no longer competitive and government actions/inactions are making things worse. Our greatness was built on free markets and true competitiveness, but now we are fooling ourselves that capitalism is bad and the government has all the answers. Just think of the state of things if all organizations were run like the Post Office.

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Comments (38)

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Posted by A Neighbor
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Another Example -- I get the impression that you would stand firmly opposed to anything that middle class American families can do to keep themselves afloat. That is what unions do for us, pal. Their union jobs keep taxes coming in to the empty treasuries and keeps families in their homes. I am sick of all the union bashing in this town. Truly, truly sick of it.

And for the record, I think the first class US postage stamp is the greatest bargain to be found on this planet.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 5, 2011 at 8:56 pm

If the ineptitude and snarkiness exhibited by the counter staff at the Pleasanton Main Post Office is indicative of the rest of the organization, then it's no wonder they're spiraling downward. Perhaps the union contracts have guaranteed a poor level of customer service, but whatever the reason, this facility is a great example of a bureaucracy living in the dark ages.


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Posted by Another example
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Neighbor - Hey pal, why don't you focus on the merits of the article and the conclusions from the government's own analysis of the situation rather than your suppositions of me.

If you are such a fan of inefficient, unprofitable, failing organizations like the Post Office, and this being OK because it protects the livelihood of some, please help me understand how your world would work if all organizations were allowed to operate this way because they protect workers?

And if you are such a big fan of unions (especially government ones), maybe you could provide an example or two where unions have actually helped their companies remain or become more competitive in this every increasing global world?


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jun 6, 2011 at 8:08 am

With the advent of email, the US postal system is and has been facing huge changes in the volume of letters and first class mail. I don't know how else the postal system is going to deal with it other than cutting back on the number of post offices and restricting mail delivery (e.g., no more Saturday delivery) so that they can cut back on the number of employees.

I only know of and use two Pleasanton post offices: The main one on Black Avenue, and the one in northern Pleasanton near the Hacienda business park. Perhaps this smaller office will eventually be closed. I would hate to see that happen since the main office can get really crowded sometimes.


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 10:16 am

The point of a union is to increase bargaining power with business owners. The problem with GOVERNMENT unions is that the "owner" doesn't even have a seat at the bargaining table. Private sector unions offer choice to the consumer in a free market. GOVERNMENT unions are monopolies where both sides of the "bargaining table" benefit from the union position. It's a huge problem, and if it is not confronted at all levels soon, we are sunk.


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Posted by Anne
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jun 6, 2011 at 10:56 am

Mary is sooooooo right. We are sunk. We who elected govt officials don't have any say, except that we elected them, but what does THAT mean? We are owners of the postal workers, and our democratically elected officials won't let us treat postal workers as our own private property. Talking about UNfair! What kind of a system is this anyhow? Would they have allowed that in 1930s Germany? C'mon PEOPLE. Just like Sarah Palin said, the unions are coming to strip us of our right to treat others like our private property. Get ready for the BIG WAVE! We are sunk.
Recommendation for Mary: Return to high school and earn high school diploma. Ask about taking a high school civics course. Read a book.


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 11:32 am

Well Anne, besides the line about being "sunk", which is admittedly an opinion, can you dispute any of the rest of my position? Or would you just prefer to continue to hurl insults?

Like it or not, promising far more than is deliverable is a real and long term problem. And it threatens us all (you too). It will be addressed. It's really not a matter of choice. But I understand your desire to shoot the messenger. But this is a subject that will not go away without resolution.


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Posted by Another example
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 11:38 am

So Mary - Is it OK to have a gamed system where elected politicians don't have a backbone and continue to promise things to government employee unions so that they can get re-elected? Is it OK to continue to have a grossly inefficient government organization that only knows how to spend borrowed money? Is it OK that the non-government portion of the population will be working longer and retiring later to pay the taxes so that government employees can get what was ill-promised?

Maybe you should go back and study history to understand how most failed countries/empires did so due economic reasons (ran out of borrowed money).


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 11:54 am

None of those things are acceptable. But it would be naive to take the position that the unions have not at least an equally contributed to the problem.

Frankly I wouldn't care if the US Postal service closed today. It's an inefficient model that could probably be repaired, but the restraints of being backed, but not run by the government AND the long standing traditions of the model make it highly problematic. The reason I DO care is that, like many other government positions, when it comes time to pay the bill the burden will fall back on the public in the form of unsustainable taxes or even greater reduction of necessary services (and the PO is not one of those). And where does that eventually lead? Refer to your own post for the answer to that one.


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Posted by Another example
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 11:55 am

My previous comment was directed to Anne not Mary


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Posted by Another example
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

Sorry about that mix up in names.

Mary - I too am growing very tired of the typical "shoot the messenger" approach by those who refuse to face the reality of the severity of our financial situation and refuse to look at the necessary tough choices we can make now by choice or will be forced to do so in the future (aka Greece).


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I was wondering about that. I read it and thought that it doesn't seem like our positions are different --- except the first poster obviously works at or directly benefits from a government job.


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Posted by leland
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jun 6, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Mary is right. All unions have ever done is take money out of the pockets of the heroes who hire them out of the goodness of their hearts. We have to somehow crush them. Workers need to once again learn to become submissive to the owners who own them and treat them like property. If the spineless pols won't do it, then wE ThE pEOple have to do it for them. Tear down the laws that supposably give politicians the right to act on our behalf. Tear down the laws. Tear down the institutions. Bring back the good old days when robber barons could act like robber barons without having to deal with the irresponsible and unaccountable unions.

Before doing that, though, we have to get rid of medicare and social security and public liberies and post offices and unemployment compensation and other bankrupt systems. All the unfunded liabilities are making us work harder and longer. Look around you FOLKS. We're going to be owned by the Chinese once that big wave hits our shoreline.


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Posted by Another example
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Leland - We are out of money on so many fronts. What would you do at this point?

Even if we went back to the Clinton tax rates (which I reluctantly support), it wouldn't solve the financial crisis we are in. How much longer to you think the rest of the world will continue to loan us $1.5 trillion/year?

What would you do?


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I find it interesting that the government service unions work so diligently to associate their position with the private sector unions. It's a great strategy, but a highly flawed comparison.

Let's take the pipe trades. You can hire a company that uses union fitters or plumbers. And you get an increased likelihood of some standard of performance from that path. Or you can hire a non-union company. And the cost and quality of work may or may not be superior. Neither path is a guarantee, but the consumer has a choice. And that choice allows labor, ownership/management, and the consumer a path to find an equitable balance.

However none of those scenarios successfully play out when it comes to government services and government service employee unions. The "customer" doesn't have a seat at the bargaining table. And the manager and employee have the same objective and agenda. It's a receipt for disaster that has played out over and over until the monopoly game that has been funding the last decade finally spilled on to the floor and revealed that the bank was dry.

It will be addressed. It's not a matter of choice.


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Posted by leland
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jun 6, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Another Example,

Gads!!! Didn't you read my above post? The Chinese are coming on the crest of the giant tsunami!!! We need a strong leader who is not spineless but is courageous enough to tear down the laws and institutions that have mollycawdled all the entitlement unfundeds over the years at great burden to all of us.

When you say 'we are out of money' I'm not sure what you mean. Do you have fleas? Cuz my hunch is that you are not out of money at all. My hunch is that you have plenty of money but lose sleep at night thinking about having more. My hunch is that you verge on wetting yourself at the thought of having as much money as the Donald. I have a lot of money too. I am not out of money by any stretch. I can have even more if we eliminate unions and all the other parasites.


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Don't bother answering trolls.


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Posted by Another example
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Leland - Way to pen a cogent response.

I sense that if people like you were in charge, we'd continue to spend and spend until we ended up in a similar situation as countries like Greece and Portugal.

Good thing people like you will never be in charge in this country.


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Posted by Another example
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm

BTW - The only time I have an issue with unions is when they stand in the way of necessary changes for improvement and that intransigence forces costs on others. Rather than dealing with the obvious inefficiencies in their organizations, most government employee unions want to raise taxes on the rest of us. Doesn't seem right.


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Posted by leland
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jun 6, 2011 at 1:03 pm

"Good thing people like you will never be in charge in this country."

Ha! Anybody but Obambi ... and Leland, eh? Instead of hurling names at me, why don't you face the facts and respond to the argument? What did I say about unions that you disagree with? Were my hunches wrong? I didn't think so?

You don't think a tsunami is coming in the face of unions who only have the ambition to tax the rich? Way to avoid the subject!


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm

With the exception of government stuff, my postal traffic is either electronic or by private delivery service. I only deal with the PO when I need to renew my passport, and inefficient and depressing process that takes place in what is basically a cramped, dreary hallway between the counters and the restrooms.

Given the option, I always prefer to deal with businesses that value customer satisfaction and compete for my patronage.


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Posted by Another example
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Wow Leland - I'm going to stay clear of you.

Not sure what name calling you are referring to. All I see are unanswered questions I posed to you and a lot of assumptions, categorizations and pejorative statements by you.

Interesting tactic on your part, but I'm not sure it is strengthening your credibility.


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Posted by Blossom
a resident of Stoneridge Orchards
on Jun 6, 2011 at 6:23 pm

The Post Office crisis is just the tip of the iceberg that the tsunami is bringing in. Its like the canary in the mines of Chile or the albatross around our neck. We're riding the Titanic with Obama as the witless captain of the ship of state, its got a big whole in the bottom and Obama keeps boring it bigger. I give him credit for having the dignity to go down with his ship. Our unsustainables are mounting, our debt burden inching closer like a tsunanic iceberg, and irresponsible and unaccountable and rude unionized postal carriers and clerks are leading the parade of unfunded liabilities. Mark my words, if this keeps up their going to raise the price of a stamp by another penny. Theyll have to wrench it from my cold dead hand.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jun 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I'm getting confused. Is the iceberg making the hole in the ship of state or is it Obama? Also, how does a "tsunamic iceberg" differ from an ordinary iceberg? Which one has the Post Office on its tip, and can we mail canaries to Chile from it or only albatrosses?


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Posted by Leland
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jun 6, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Let me speak for the majority of posters here. If unionized postal workers succeed in getting raises at the expense of the taxpayer, I'm against it. Period. I have the money, but I don't want to give it to some pot-smoking, bermuda-clad, disoriented rude postal counter person who can't ever get my mail to me on time unless its govt tax forms.

I know, I know, he or she may have a family. Life sucks sometimes doesn't it? What does this have to do with me not wanting to pay yet another penny for a postage stamp? You make money by holding on to it and not giving it away. I bet most of the homeless people we see are there because they were taxed into destitution. That's the postal service for you.


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Posted by Jason
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm

If the USPS went to a 4 day work week (4/10's) and Congress simply let the Postmaster General close numerous severely unprofitable post offices the problem would be solved. This would also reduce US oil consumption with the largest vehicle fleet in the US going largely unused 2 more days a week.

Public employee unions are a huge issue but so are constituents who whine to elected officials about the need for mail delivery 6 days a week. To those defending paying public employees at above market wages(which is factually the case in CA and for the USPS) is the purpose of a public organization to serve the public or its employees?


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Posted by Communist Ferdy
a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Jun 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Better idea. Jack up stamp price by a dime. Convert entire postal fleet to hybrids.


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Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2011 at 9:44 am


Hmmm... let's see. For just 44 cents, I can put an envelope in a blue box on a street corner, or even hand it to my mail carrier right at my front door, and within a couple of days it is delivered right to the door of absolutely any address anywhere within the entire United States. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

The post office is running on a serious deficit at least partly because of its handling of third class mail, all that junk mail you find in your mailbox several days in the week. It is the most inefficient aspect of the service, and gives a huge break to massive mailings, 99% of which we toss into the garbage without even reading. If the USPS charged first class rates for this mail, they'd be solvent.

But, it appears that this poster is using the Postal Service as just another excuse to attack unions. While unions could learn to be more flexible in their negotiations, partnering with business to keep business afloat while still preserving the benefits that union workers can negotiate for, they are not the primary cause of all the financial trouble in this country.

Next time you complain about all the perks unions have won in their contract negotiations, ask yourself if you are bitter about their success not because they're getting things that they don't deserve, but rather because so many very wealthy corporations (those that are not unionized) do not provide similar benefits for their workers (and instead rake in profits that today are greater than before the recession).


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 7, 2011 at 10:05 am

I like my Post Office in North Pleasanton (Hacienda area).

The employees are very friendly and helpful


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2011 at 10:44 am

Some responses to John's well thought out and articulate post:

<<< Hmmm... let's see. For just 44 cents, I can put an envelope in a blue box on a street corner, or even hand it to my mail carrier right at my front door, and within a couple of days it is delivered right to the door of absolutely any address anywhere within the entire United States. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. >>>

You're right. It's too good a deal. It's also a service that is very quickly becoming obsolete. Basic economics states that as the market shrinks, the business model must adapt. Choices are basically reduced service, reduced overhead, and/or increased market share.

<<<The post office is running on a serious deficit at least partly because of its handling of third class mail, all that junk mail you find in your mailbox several days in the week. It is the most inefficient aspect of the service, and gives a huge break to massive mailings, 99% of which we toss into the garbage without even reading. If the USPS charged first class rates for this mail, they'd be solvent. >>>

I'm not going to claim to be an expert in this field, but the limited research I have done indicates that the opposite is true. Junk mail is the primary reason the Postal service still exists. And it has been the path to profitability at postal services in other countries. The cost of this service is probably out of whack however.

<<<But, it appears that this poster is using the Postal Service as just another excuse to attack unions. While unions could learn to be more flexible in their negotiations, partnering with business to keep business afloat while still preserving the benefits that union workers can negotiate for, they are not the primary cause of all the financial trouble in this country.>>>

I mostly agree with you here, however it is important to separate private industry unions from public service unions (please see my posts above). They are not comparable situations.

<<<Next time you complain about all the perks unions have won in their contract negotiations, ask yourself if you are bitter about their success not because they're getting things that they don't deserve, but rather because so many very wealthy corporations (those that are not unionized) do not provide similar benefits for their workers (and instead rake in profits that today are greater than before the recession). >>>

Not much argument here, EXCEPT that the pay and benefit packages of government workers must be reflective of the marketplace. And it's not even close.

My solution?

Sell the postal service to private industry. Take the proceeds and make a one time, all cash contribution to an annuity fund for current employees. Make the sale and contribution contingent upon acceptance that the deal is final and the payment constitutes full payment of all obligations. If a deal cannot be struck on all sides in one year, close the doors and auction the equipment. Done.


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Posted by Right On
a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks
on Jun 7, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Mary, as per usual, has a brilliant idea. Sell the US postal system to private industry and allow them to monopolize the industry. Perhaps some of Enron's former bigwigs might want in. I mean, with nearly 9 out of 10 businesses failing after two years, I'm sure many would be more than eager to give it a go.

Of course another option would be, as John suggests, to raise the price of mailings for the corps that cut down timber to send us junk that ends up in the trash. But that would keep the postal service in business, something Mary, because of ideological blindness + idiocy, cannot sanction.


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2011 at 12:11 am

Who said anything about a monopoly? I said make it competitive and part of the free enterprise system. I said it is a dying model, regardless of what you charge for delivery.

By the way -- UPS, FedEx and others who are not bound by the burden of public employee unions are in the package delivery business also, in case you haven't noticed. And doing well.

Letters? When was the last time you sent one? In fact, when was the last decade you sent one? There is little left to monopolize. The monopolized "industry" of the US Postal Service must reinvent itself or fail. Raising the price of a stamp (to any amount you want) won't do it, and you know that.

So, do you have any solutions besides another taxpayer funded handout to delay the inevitable?


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Posted by No solutions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2011 at 7:15 am

Progressive who have very little sense for how business and well functioning markets run have no solution other than to continue to demonize capitalism, refuse to understand the differences between true capitalism and our current system of crony capitalism, and continue to spend borrowed money hoping to tax the rich in the future to pay for the bill.

Their approach for the post office would be to allow it to continue its money-losing ways, allow unions/employees to extract wages/benefits it can't afford to pay, let it add to the national debt, then let that debt to default and/or raise taxes.


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Posted by Progressive
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Harking -- or in most cases, honking -- back to unregulated capitalism offers no solution but only reveals one's inability to grasp the logic of capital ... which is to eat up all competitors until one has established a monopoly.

Nothing free about free enterprise. No difference between 'free' enterprise and so-called 'croney capitalism' -- which seems to be aptly named 'No Solution's' -- cowardly way of distinguishing anything democratically sponsored (people sponsored) from his own deluded, warped, dystopian understanding of how things should be. And what is that? 1890's here we come! No? 1920's here we come! A little bit of education on these pages would be nice.


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Posted by Progressive?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Hey smarty pants if you are so educated, how would you solve the post office situation?

I think we can all agree (hopefully) that the two extremes - robber baron era and communism are not the way to go.

The Post Office (without another bailout) is going bankrupt due to a bloated cost structure and inability to keep up with the times unlike other national post offices (read the article).

What would be the progressive solution to this problem?


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Posted by Another example
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2011 at 12:09 pm

The red ink continues ... thank you all you future tax payers will will be bailing out gross government inefficiencies and allowing your elders to retire in comfort with packages you will never see.

Thanks for being slaves to our debt. Much appreciated. See below:


Send this one back where it came from

Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night stays the U.S. Postal Service from its appointed rounds, as long as it gets a giant bailout. Largely reduced to a delivery service for subsidized junk mail, crippled by sweetheart deals with its labor unions, the Postal Service is a good candidate for the dead-letter box. Instead, its managers are frantically lobbying for a federal bailout nearly twice the size of the one General Motors got.

Make that two bailouts. The Postal Service is not only trying to sneak a direct $75 billion payment out of the government without congressional approval, it's also asking to be let off the hook for a $5.5 billion payment into a trust fund to guarantee the absurdly generous pension benefits it has promised its retirees. When the Postal Service can't pay those benefits a few years down the line, who do you think will get the bill? Hint: Look in the mirror.

Adding $75 billion (plus who knows how much later when the Postal Service pensions implode) to the federal deficit at a time when federal debt is already bigger than half the entire output of the U.S. economy is a bad enough idea on its own terms.

Web Link


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 17, 2011 at 2:19 am

I used to work for the PO until a few years ago. One of the silly ideas USPS wants to do is add more cluster boxes and migrate away from the mailboxes on customer's houses.


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Posted by Another example
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 7:38 am

Only with government agencies like the Post office do you get the worst of both worlds - higher costs and reduced services. This is what happens when you run organizations for the benefit of employees rather than customers.


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