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Weekend Open Thread
by Karl Bode 09:25AM Saturday Dec 21 2013
The weekend has arrived! Carefully place something interesting into the comment section below.

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Cordova, TN

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reply to elray

Re: Total of 12+ hours trying to reach the USPS

Dissing the postal system in favor of other delivery carriers ignores the fact that in a lot of ways these other carriers only exist (profitably) because of the postal system, which paved the way for them and created a lot of the infrastructure which allows them to function. I'm talking here about everything from all the post roads which have been built over the past few hundred years (a lot of the main roads and highways and such out there were originally built as post roads) to things like zip codes and address standardization (the whole concept of a street address originates with the postal system, and they made rules for creating new addresses in a logical and consistent manner).

Also, it isn't widely known but these other carriers get a significant portion of their profits from juicy contracts with the postal system, where they act as middlemen for mail and parcel delivery. So a package originally sent via USPS may have traveled cross-country on one of these other carriers, then gotten handed back to USPS for final delivery. From what I know of such contracts they are very profitable for these carriers, and as such account for a fair share of the postage you pay, and perhaps explain why postal rates have kept increasing like they have been, as more of the post started traveling this way.

And while it's true that the USPS hasn't automated itself as slickly lately as some of these other carriers, historically they haven't really been slackers in this area, either. It's been a couple of decades now, but I've seen some of this firsthand, and quite a bit of it was cutting-edge at the time - advanced sorting technology, OCR technology, bar-coding, labeling standards, and so on. A lot of these other carriers learned what they could from this stuff and used it and improved upon it. But all of that automation costs money, plus USPS (by law) still has to handle a lot of stuff by hand (things which can't easily be automated), plus their overall volume of individual items (everything from post cards to packages) probably dramatically exceeds all the other carriers combined, so there is a limit to how much automation they can do with the volumes they do and still keep postal rates as low as they do.

Lastly, while I agree that pension funds should be properly funded in advance, it turns out that there is a downside to this. Namely, that having such a large pool of funds out there which needs to be "managed" and "invested" somewhere tends to draw in the worst of Wall Street types (and others) looking to get their hands on that money one way or another. And in doing so huge portions of it tend to just up and disappear. I speak from a "been there, done that" perspective here. The last I read concerning the situation which I'm personally familiar with, liquidating the organization which received that $15+ billion dollars of public pension fund money MIGHT yield something like 30 cents on the dollar if they are lucky; probably returning closer to zero cents on the dollar back to the pension fund when all is said and done. Meanwhile, the folks who "invested" that money there and "managed" that organization to the brink of bankruptcy like they have continue to profit handsomely from this arrangement.

PS: This web page speaks to some of the technical challenges that USPS has to deal these days: »consumerist.com/2012/11/21/insid ··· errible/

Iowa native
Springfield, MA
·Verizon Broadban..

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reply to Happydude32

Re: When is the day when our telecommunications are being regulated?

Or let local cities and towns wire themselves where private companies are unwilling to deploy infrastructure. I'm talking rural areas where the big telcos/cablecos lobby for laws restricting municipal broadband yet refuse to deploy their own facilities to unserved areas.

Wiring rural areas is costly, cablecos/telcos want 8 customers on one pole, not one customer every 2-3 miles.


Santa Monica, CA
·Time Warner Cable

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reply to ClassWar

Re: SanFran protestors hate rich Google/Apple commuters

Whether Apple and Google employees "contribute to society" is a matter of opinion.

That said, these goons who would deny anyone they disagree with the right to go to work, are the first to cry out for government funding of their pet social causes -- and while Google is known for paying little to no corporate taxes, how many of these bus riders are paying California's 12.30% income tax, including ex-post-facto taxes on paper gains from 2012?