Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mail Fraud

The U.S. Postal Service announced today that it would cease all Saturday mail delivery.  Somewhere in the distance, a Newman cries out.  The organization has been drowning in red ink for years, and this move was widely anticipated.  Critics fear this development will lead to slow deliveries and long lines at Post Office branches across the country.  

No wait, we already have those conditions.  Critics really fear this development because they fear idle postal workers.  That sounds legitimate.  I prefer my post office workers to be busy. 
The reduction in service days begins in August.  We should thank our lucky stars that the 237 year old business is just now slowing down.  Most of us start thinking about a reduced schedule in our 60s and 70s.  At 237, the mail service of America could use some rest.  It’s been a good ride, but it is time to scale down the workload, old man.  

While ending Saturday deliveries is the headline news from the agency, there were several other cost cutting measures announced with less fanfare, each proposal deserves a passing mention:

To save travel time for the letter carriers, mail for all residents of a given street will have deliveries left in a pile in a central location on a curb for neighbors to “self-sort”.

Undocumented workers can speed the path to citizenship by volunteering to make a 2 year commitment to the Postal Service.  Wages from these unskilled postal employees will be garnished to repay accumulated immigration fines and back taxes.  The Postal Service describes this plan as a “win-win” for immigrants.

Mail carriers will no longer be allowed to work expensive overtime hours through wind, rain, sleet or dark of night.  Mail will only be delivered on sunny, clear days (a postal spokesperson did not explain how this new initiative would impact Seattle, home of only a few good weather days each year).

To control labor costs, a new recruiting campaign will be launched encourage high school drop outs to consider a rewarding, secure and low-wage career in the Postal Service.  The marketing will focus on the ways a Postal career can lift someone out of poverty over the long term.  The campaign is tentatively being called “Goin’ Postal – It’s the Only Way Out”.

To save uniform expenses, the list of acceptable postal uniforms will be expanded to include Boy Scout leader outfits or a worker’s favorite sports team jersey.  These new options will provide flexibility, affordability, and breathability.  It will also give the worker a chance to express themselves in the workplace, something that Gen Y entrants into the workforce demand.

To speed letter processing, stamps will be standardized to a single image so postal workers can stop being slowed by asking their co-workers in the sorting line, “Hey, does this look like a real stamp to you?”  The productivity gain is estimated at 87%.

The Postal Service also announced plans to reduce the volume of mail as part of their cost cutting proposals:

Beginning in December 2013, letters to Santa will result in a fine to the sender of $10 and the offending letter writer will be added to the National Naughty Registry, viewable online.

Mother’s Day will be removed from the list of nationally recognized holidays, thus reducing the month of May mail volume by 96%.

The Postal Service is recommending a Hallmark tax to reduce usage.  According to their press release, if every Hallmark card carries a $5 surcharge, private consumption of these cards can be discouraged by “government mandated market forces”.

Finally, the Post Office will finance the wiring of every home in America for free Internet access at no cost to the homeowner, thus completely eliminating the need for catalogs, promotional postcards, new credit card offers and photos from out of town family members.  Within 5 years of completion, the need for a post office will no longer exist, and this wiring plan is cheaper to the nation than subsidizing the current Post Office.

We grew up thinking the postman only rings twice.  Before we know it, he may stop ringing the bell completely.

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