Max likes the mailman

Hello and welcome back to the disappearing world of the Dogpound.  You remember the old song with the catchy phrase…”Na, Na, Hey, Hey, kiss him goodbye” by the Steam; well, you can apply that to our Saturday Post Office delivery in a few months. Oh wait…don’t kiss the mailman too soon because the Post Office still has to get Congressional approval before they can do anything.  With that being said you can easily guess that outcome; our government who has not had a budget in years, is ringing up deficit dollars like there is no tomorrow, and they are going to give financial guidance to the Post Office??  Hmmmm??  Anyway, we in the Dogpound understand why the Post Office has to take these steps; they face continued pressure from Email, Facebook, and companies like FedEx and UPS.  

The old models will not work today.  I know everyone rags on the Post Office, but they have provided a vital service to this country.  At one time they were the foundation for many small towns; they connected us not only to the outside world, but they were often the focal point of the local community.  I grew up in a small town of less than 100 people…but we had a post office that also served as the gas station, with a car repair shop, and a rental apartment on the second floor.  I would get the mail every day when I got off the school bus, or mom would send me up to the store to get a two-cent post card, and you would always meet someone from the neighborhood.  A neighbor would be getting gas, picking up mail, delivering letters/packages to be mailed, waiting for their car or tire to be repaired, and/or just standing around shooting the breeze about the weather and the farm crops.  I am not so sure our small town would have been the same without the post office and its ability to deliver the world to our doorstep.  Despite the Internet world of immediate access I really do not think it is better than the old letters.  I agree they are great for immediate sharing of pictures etc, but letters were not written in less than 140 characters...letters were not written while standing in line at the grocery store or waiting for your food at the fast food drive-in.  No, it took time to write a letter…it took time to read the letters you received…it took time to put down your thoughts…there was more time to really communicate  what is  on your mind, which takes more than 60 seconds of LOL and BBF’s.  

I understand the Post Office is standing against a tide that it cannot fight unless it makes a dramatic change, but I still think it is a good thing to remember that we need to communicate…really communicate.  Put down the iPads, the iPhones, pull out the ear plugs on your MP3, turn off the TV; sit down and look at each other.  Take time to express how you feel, take time to actually listen, take time to ask questions, take time to really understanding what is being said, learn again how to communicate outside the boundaries of a tweet.  Try it…you might like it.

That is a wrap for now.  As always be good, play safe, and remember it is always nice to get a card or hand-written letter in the mail.  

JR and Max


Postal Service Needs Flexibility Now

If only all post offices were in locations that could offer all of the simultaneous services you mention then perhaps they might survive. Except for a small percentage of locations nearly all post offices are single purpose facilities and generally in leased locations. Given that most Americans these day receive and pay all of their bills online, communicate via email and text, and received parcels through FedEx and UPS there's little need for a complex network of postal facilities scattered across the land.

Indeed, go into any post office this week and look around: the first thing you'll notice is how few customers are there and how few staff are at the counter. My experience has been in a purely unscientific visual survey that more than 50% of people walking in are headed to the PO boxes and then back out again. The others tend to fall into a couple categories: people picking up packages that require signature and they weren't at home at the time (the PO forgets that despite our "recovery" roughly 60% are at work during the day), older folks who have not converted to online (and I'm not being disparaging), and foreigners arguing with the postal clerk as to why its so expensive to mail their box of items purchased at Wal Mart to some unknown village in their third world country.

Do we really need the 35,000 postal facilities that the postal service reported in 2012 that were in operation? Compare that to 1971 with 42,000 facilities in an age of NO email, NO direct debit for bills, NO FedEx or UPS. Other than delivering a few bills, some junk mail, and political ads every two years (or every year for Virginians) the postal service has been relieved of much of its responsilibities, at least in terms of volume.

Where I live there are at least six post offices within a 15 minute drive. These are full retail offices. There's really no need for this many.

You look at how many of the postal services in socialized Europe have privatized and now run at a profit as they have found unique ways to run their business (first of all, they think like a business not a government program). For example, so are combined with convenience stores and small shops. Some offer products, like banking, other than traditional postal services. And some, pray tell, even close down unprofitable locations.

It's time to face reality and adjust to changes in our society and economy. It's time to allow the postal service to remain viable by stopping Saturday delivery, raising postage rates, laying off workers, and closing unprofitable branch locations...all without Congressional interference.

The idea of the small town post office as the center of community life where neighbors who actually know each other exchange news and get hand written letters from distant friends is quaint. But it belongs more to a Norman Rockwell romantic view of American rather than today's flat-broke postal service used as a jobs program for people who cannot tuck in their shirts.

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