Monday, March 30, 2009

Going Postal

In 1965-66 while bobbing around the North Atlantic and Mediterranean aboard the USS Casa Grande, LSD-13, mail service was, as you would expect, a little slow. Four decades later things have not improved, even without the handicap of being in the middle of some ocean. Turning a first class letter over to the gentle ministrations of both the USPS and Canada Post is a bit like tossing the letter in the ocean and hoping the tides will eventually get it to its destination. It can take ten days to get a letter from Seattle to Whistler, about the same amount of time you would require to walk it up there yourself. You can imagine what kind of problems this creates when you are trying to pay a bill to a US company.

Postage rates go up every year while the service gets worse. In 1975 the cost of a first class stamp was $.10. By 1981 it had doubled to $.20 and then between 1985 and 2008 had doubled again to $.44. Despite these increases and the USPS monopoly position, this government owned corporation manages to lose money nearly every year and require a government “bailout”. This year the USPS expects to lose $2.9 billion and anticipates even bigger losses next year. They are proposing cutting delivery to five days to save money.

The USPS is the 8th largest corporate entity in the US with over 900,000 employees. Make that government union employees, meaning no Democrat in his right mind would ever vote to privatize this turkey. And, despite running this hopelessly inefficient and money losing operation, the USPS awarded its executives $197 million in bonuses last year. After demonizing every bank and corporate executive in recent weeks about pay and bonuses you’d think someone in the media might have brought this up. Not likely. And, I doubt the class warrior foot soldiers at ACORN will be sending any busloads of protesters out to the homes of USPS execs to chant and wave signs or threaten them with hanging.

The problem with the USPS is the same as with any monopoly: the lack of competition and the absence of any real motive for profit or efficiency. Even where the USPS competes with private companies like UPS or FedX they get their asses kicked and that’s even with the various restrictions the USPS places on them. You can read more at:

The whole post office thing bubbled to the surface of the fevered swamp of my brain as I listened to President Obama explain today how the government was going to take over and fix the auto industry. In other words, turn it into another post office. You may have noticed that the stock market responded to this news by dropping 254 points today.

The first step in this program was the firing of GM CEO Rick Wagoner. Does GM have a Board of Directors? Of course. But, the nameless wizards appointed by Obama to “oversee” the automobile business have decided that ol’ Rick must go or the administration will shut off the bail out money. If the board had a lick of sense or courage they should have said, “Screw you” and immediately filed for Chapter 11.

Silly me. I thought we had settled this debate about free enterprise and government micromanaged economies long ago.

Have we forgotten about the collapse of the former USSR? Or, the perfect comparison of the success of West Germany over East Germany? Or North Korea vs. South Korea? So, with these real world examples fresh in our mind we now think that the Obama Team with the combined business experience of the average high school senior can effectively run the auto industry? Absurd.

I have suggested in previous posts that I believe that the unions and various government mandates imposed on the auto companies (CAFÉ mileage standards) have contributed significantly to the difficulties at the Big Three. Can you imagine what the politicians will do to these firms when they have complete license to meddle in the day-to-day business decisions? You should be able to easily picture these anti-business, environmentally besotted types demanding that the auto boys produce cars that meet the “green” standards but that no one wants to buy. Do you believe that the Democrats who have the unions in their pockets are going to play hardball with them? Get real. Like the post office, the auto companies will need a bailout every year.

Obama had all the CEOs of the nation’s largest banks over to the White House for lunch this past week. I’ll bet they got a spanking from BHO and left with a silent vow to send the TARP money back as soon as humanly possible. That is, if they can. Mr. Geitner plans to subject them to a “stress test” that may require them to take more TARP funds whether they want it or not, keeping them under the thumb of the politicians and bureaucrats.

The Obama team is moving swiftly to take over as much of private industry as possible before the honeymoon ends: First the auto companies, then the banks, health insurers and perhaps the oil companies. When all major American industries are run by the government and managed with the cheerful efficiency of the US Postal Service the “Change We Can Believe In” will have truly arrived. Welcome to East Berlin.

1 comment:

Heidi said...

AMEN AMEN!!! I worked for the auto union for 6 short months and they are so LAZY they have NO IDEA how to work. My uncle works for the post office, he is on light duty from a car accident and sits in the break room ALL DAY watching tv and being paid to sit there, just for showing up.... RE DICK U LUS!! LOL