Friday, July 15, 2011

Your tax dollars at work

A few weeks back, I wrote about the gradually failing business that is the US Postal Service. Of course, I'm fairly certain that at some point in the near future, we as taxpayers will be asked to bail out this dinosaur, presumably in the name of saving jobs (seeing as an absolutely ridiculous 80% of USPS expenses go toward salary and benefits).

For when that day comes, I think it's useful to bear in mind what, exactly, we'd be bailing out. Courtesy of a close friend comes this amazing tracking information on a package sent from New York City... to New York City.

Note how many times that package has been sorted (4 so far), and how far it's gotten (like, nowhere) in the full business week that has passed since it was sent. At this rate, who in their right mind would even bother sending something via USPS?

Recall that this package was sent WITHIN THE SAME CITY. At this rate, you could hire a bum off the street, pay him a couple bucks, and have the package delivered to your doorstep several days sooner than via USPS. In fact, I'll tell you what, USPS--next time I have a package sent to me, just give me a call when the package gets to your sorting facility. I'll come over and pick it up, and you can fire all the people who do the sorting and delivering for you. We'll save everyone a whole lot of time and money.

The problem, of course, is that the more people who shun USPS in favor of UPS or FedEx or DHL or carrier pigeon or my newly-patented bum-off-the-street method, the more money USPS loses, the more likely it becomes that we'll all be asked to use our tax money to bail USPS out. So we can't win. Either we subsidize this kind of idiocy now by continuing to use USPS... or we subsidize it later in a more indirect fashion. Yay "capitalism".

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