The US Postal Service has a long and meritorious record.
The Continental Congress named Benjamin Franklin as the first
Postmaster-General in 1775. Since that auspicious beginning,
the USPS has achieved remarkable success as one of the most
efficient postal services in the world.
The USPS utilizes the most up-to-date technology to deliver
hundreds of millions of pieces of mailamong them, packages
and envelopes of staggering varietyto a population of
250 million US citizens at home and abroad. Innovations like
the Pony Express, home delivery, automated handling and routing,
and the multitude of other advances and technologies unnamed,
has served to keep the USPS well ahead of the game, even though
demand increases exponentially. There are dark and uncertain
times ahead, regardless of all this, though.
The recent USPS budget projection is a rather foreboding one.
In spite of recent price increases, the Postal Service is awash
in debt, and sees no prospect for profitability in the future.
What has led to this turn of fortune for the Postal Service?
The answer, in a word, is email.
The success of the marketing of home computers, added to the
universal, inexpensive access to the Internet in North America,
both in the USA and Canada, has set the scene for the USPS'
worst nightmare. Email is free. It is relatively reliable. Very
few communications require a hard document, so it is quite suitable
for typical communication.
And it's fast. Even at its slowest, it beats postal delivery
in the majority of cases. I used to marvel at the increase in
productive exchange that results from email. Now I take it for
granted and depend on it. Productivity is enhanced in ways the
USPS did not anticipate. They are trying to include themselves
in the new technology, but the fact is they are completely unnecessary.
The trouble extends to the other USPS income source: parcel
delivery. The competition from United Parcel Service has forced
USPS into a business alliance with their fiercest competitor.
The fact is they cannot compete, even though on-line retail
sales have tripled the demand for parcel delivery.
Ernest Hemingway's famous line "Ask not for whom the bell tolls..."
could be taken as a warning by the illustrious and premier mail
service of the world. They are asking the US Congress for a
lifting of the rules by which they are allowed to increase rates.
The bell tolls: this is not a solution when your chief competitor
charges $5 to $20 per month for unlimited transactions. And
the Internet only gets faster and more dependable.
USPS: the bell tolls for thee, no matter how unfair it may seem.
Copyright © 2001 Robert Marcom. All Rights
Robert Marcom is a regular contributor