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The Tea-Bagging Cracker at the Post Office

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As much as I hate to, there are some days when I have to go to the post office. I avoid the place like I would avoid pestilence and plague. It is my least favorite place to be. My reluctance might have to do with a little post-traumatic stress syndrome from my days working there, or it could have more to do with the fact that parking is treacherous (few spots, lots of ticket-writing parking gestapo), the construction is horrific (road and new Sonic drive-in going up right across the street) or the fact that even in the middle of summer, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, the line stretches out the door like it’s the Monday before Christmas and the clerks are slower than a parade of slugs traveling single file down the garden path.

It is, of course, the Royal Oak Post Office. Royal Oak – as in classically trendy – not fabulously fashionable like neighboring über-liberal Ferndale, but a haven nonetheless for smug yuppie puppies. The Royal Oak Post Office was once the setting for an employee who happened to go postal there, shooting the place up one morning just before 9. (Don’t worry; they never shoot at customers, just at each other.) The front of the building attracts a myriad of humanity – neighbors, union workers, Santa Claus, politicians, petition passers, and Salvation Army bell ringers. That’s because this post office – being the only one in town – is the hub of the community.

I usually ignore those imploring a signature here or there. I’m ashamed to say I have turned away from the homeless woman who sleeps in the lobby at night. I don’t want to talk to union members or local politicians. I just want to get in, get out, and quickly put as much distance between that putrid yellow brick building and me as I can without getting pulled over for a speeding ticket.

Yesterday, I needed to drop off an Express Mail envelope before 5 p.m. I should have left earlier, but I am a world-class procrastinator and there is no good time to go. Standing at the end of a very long line (two clerks, must have been shift change), I heard a commotion behind me. A younger man (meaning younger than me) was yelling about wanting to see the postmaster. “That’s just not right. They shouldn’t be allowed to stand outside.” Someone was trying to calm him down. Eventually, he took his place a few bodies in line behind me, still grousing loudly.

I’m no busybody; I was on a mission, praying that the window clerks had amphetamines chased with Red Bull for break. However, when the man said, “Can you believe those tea-bagging crackers? They wanted me to sign a petition! No way am I signing that. They should call the cops.” There were other words spouted: “racist,” “Nazis,” “white supremists.” But it was the "tea-bagging cracker" moniker that really caught my attention.

I was going to turn around, if not to say something, at least to give him a stern look. No, I'm not for the Tea Party as an institution, but I get it. I also get Democrats and Republicans. All politicians give me a stomach ache, no matter the label. Either way, the cut of the cloth is still the same.

Angry Young Liberal Man (I’ve often wondered why liberals are so angry, especially since they have been in power now for the last four years, longer in the Mitten State – but that’s for another post) decided to take his business elsewhere and exited the line and the building. It could have been the 15 people ahead of him, most of us sleepy and uninterested in his show of indignant righteousness, or maybe he wanted to hit up the cracker-less facilities in Berkley or Clawson. I hear the lines are a lot shorter there.

Twenty-five minutes later, my errand complete, on my way out, I decided to investigate this tea-bagging cracker and what the hell he/she was doing in front of the post office annoying left-wing zealots.

Turns out the “tea-bagging cracker” was a little, old Black lady with a petition. It was a few minutes before five, and she looked worn out. “Want to sign this petition?” she says. “It’s to put having an official Tea Party on the ballot.”

“Tea Party, huh. Isn’t that taking your life into your own hands? Did you hear that angry guy complaining about you?” Like people the next block over could hear.

Petition Lady says, “I can stand on the sidewalk. It’s my right. Sidewalk don’t belong to the post office, it belongs to the city. They know that in there.” She points up to the building. “They know what’s going on. You’ve seen me here before. I get paid to get petitions signed. I’m here all the time.”

Ah, ha. No wonder she looked familiar. Petition Lady has a job standing outside of the post office. She doesn’t care about the ballot initiatives or the causes. I could tell she was a simple woman. This job was a job. She didn’t care one whit about the Tea Party either way, but her comment to me was, “If the people don’t get it on the ballot, how will they know if they want it or not?”

How, indeed?

Even though I firmly believe the two parties we have are a party and a half too many, I signed the petition.

Take that, Angry Liberal Man.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.
  • Jordan Richardson

    I’ve often wondered why liberals are so angry

    I’ve often wondered why conservatives are so stupid and why housewives are such losers, but that’s just me.

    Oh wait, stereotypes are dumb.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    If the window clerks had been on amphetamines and Red Bull, I seriously doubt you would have gone through the line quicker.

    “liberals…have been in power now for the last four years”

    Do you actually believe this Angry Young Liberal (you left off black although I know it’s implied) Man is in power?

    What strikes me even odder is “cracker” and “white supremists” (did he make up that word or you?) are usually used in relation to white people, but in your story the man used it in relation to a black woman. Is that right? You also quoted him saying “They wanted me to sign a petition!” so not only can’t he tell skin number but he can’t count. If you say so.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Actually, a very well written piece, Joanne, in my opinion one of your best.

    But I can understand Jordan’s point. Why this need to refer to people in terms of rather useless if not obsolete political terms? Why a liberal?

    Understandably, people are angry on both sides of the political divide, and there are good many reasons why they ought to be. Things are going right for the country and the world at large. Along with economic crisis, we’re experiencing a moral crisis, both as individuals and as a people. The old values are shattered for many, they see no viable replacement, most are at a loss, feeling as though the ground is disappearing from under their feet.

    That’s the human story, Joanne, the kind of tack you could have taken, rather than trying to narrow it down to scoring political point. The BC Politics section is full of hacks on both sides of the isle. After a while, it’s not only boring but pointless.

    So yes, I’m rooting for a refreshing view on things, one that would accommodate all of us as people, rather than the usual and stale finger-pointing. We’ve had enough of that, and given the present times, we need a more comprehensive outlook.

    I know you can do it.

  • Clavos

    “skin number???”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Kind of gradation, I suppose, on a scale from one to ten.

  • zingzing

    i was waiting for someone to hop on the “skin number” thing. it’s like raping a drunk girl. too damn easy. of course, clavos, you can figure out what he means, yes? and you can see how it happened, right?

    did figure you to be the one who’d point out the obvious, but then again…

  • zingzing

    overall, this piece strikes me as a bit odd… a “liberal” crazy enough to make a scene in the post office, complete with made-up words and black “crackers” outside and how “they,” who happen to be singular in number (and “little” and “old”), “take [their life into [their] own hands” by daring to disagree with the “so angry” typical leftist who will “grouse” on in front of a bunch of people they don’t know about political shit…

    seriously, you saw something strange. a crazy person who was disagreeing with another person who didn’t give a shit about what she was hocking. if you want to draw conclusions, go right ahead. it would just be typical. and it would also be meaningless. neither of those people represent what you’re trying to make them represent.

  • Clavos

    [edited for being beyond the pale]

    did figure you to be the one who’d point out the obvious

    I do that just for you, zing — just so you can get your rocks off.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Pedant. Although the question marks should go outside the quotation marks if you want to get technical, which I know you do.

  • STM

    What’s wrong with tea and crackers?

  • STM

    Rog: “So yes, I’m rooting for a refreshing view on things”.

    We’re all rooting for that, Rog.

  • http://www.joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    Clarification Station: Angry Liberal Man – Definitely uber WHITE.

    Congress for the last four years – Definitely DEMOCRAT.

    I thought it ironic that the Angry Young Liberal Man called this little, old African-American grandmother a tea-bagging cracker, which is why I wrote this piece.

  • http://www.joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    Oh, and another clarification for Jordan:

    I am NOT a conservative, nor am I a HOUSEWIFE.

  • http://www.joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    Oh, yes, and El Bicho, ALL of those words quoted were his words, not mine.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Joanne: I don’t know why you reject the ‘conservative’ description. But I have never known you to write a liberal or even centrist word on this site, so it’s understandable how some of us would come to that conclusion.

  • Clavos

    @#9:

    Props, EB! You out-pedanted even me…

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I wouldn’t say the Post Office is the most horrible place on Earth.

    There’s the INS, for example, which admittedly most here won’t have had experience of. But, if you have a hankering to wait in line for hours just to get through the office door and then be treated like a criminal, I highly recommend it. I suppose you could always renounce your citizenship and then reapply…

    But at least at the INS they treat you like a criminal politely. For the absolute grungiest experience, the DMV can’t be beat. Especially because it seems to have a semi-permanent, shall we say… distinctively coiffured… population.

    (Shit, that reminds me. My driver’s license is up for renewal in a month or two. Where’s that whiskey zing was talking about?)

  • Arch Conservative

    “I wouldn’t say the Post Office is the most horrible place on Earth.”

    Nor would I dreadful. If I had to guess, although I’ve never been there I’d say the most horrible palce one earth would be our current Secretary of State’s boudoir after she’s kicked back a couple of mai tai’s and has begun to feel particularly randy.

    Yep, most horrible place on earth, either that or New Jersey.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Do you have anything against mai tais, Archie?

    And what’s wrong with a disorderly boudoir? After all, you can always turn off the lights.

    I don’t think, besides, that Hillary is as unattractive as you make her out to be, in spite of her ankles. She’s got a head on her shoulders – more so than Sister Sarah, I daresay – and I find this attractive in women. After all, Archie, isn’t the mind the greatest sex organ?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Yep, most horrible place on earth, either that or New Jersey.

    Or a Raiders home game.

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    I agree that Secretary Clinton is relatively attractive.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I suspected a dig and you didn’t disappoint me.

  • Clavos

    Poor Helen!

    Besides being a liberal, she’s ugly…

    OTOH, the handsome president DOES have his arm around her…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Ugly as sin,” you should have said, Clavos; but you couldn’t venture that far in misrepresenting yourself as a cracker.

    Again, all the signs of a “closet intellectual.”

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Is her schnozz really that big?

    And why is Barack hogging all the cakes?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I happen to think it’s a montage.

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Good grief, Clav. Surely, you are not adopting anti-relativistic notions of good and bad, true and false, pretty and ugly! That Secretary Clinton is “relatively” attractive compared to Helen Thomas does not mean that Ms. Thomas is “ugly.” Perish the thought; she is simply differently endowed.

    As to President Obama, he is my hero. Just compare this with the water landing for which the nation was fawning with praise over Captain Chesley Sullenberger just a short while ago.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Doc, re #25, And why is Barack hogging all the cakes?

    It is simple kindness on his part, sacrificing himself lest others become obese; we have come to expect no less.

    The more important question, however, is how did they get into the White House in the first place?

    Now that I have thought about it some more, perhaps the icing is made of tofu. That probably explains their presence.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    All told, it’s an ugly group, I wouldn’t have any of them at my party.

    So you’re right, DM. Their presence in the White House doesn’t bode well for the present occupant.

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    Ah well, at least Ms. Thomas knows how to make a sincere apology.

    It’s rare to see that in one so spiritually lovely.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    I must admit that, even as an Agnostic, this brought tears to my eyes.

    Dan(Miller)

  • OG

    Are the intentional omissions part of the thrill?

    Your ‘beloved’ Post Office may get even worse due to an upper management willing to destroy service in the name of “cost reductions.” You obviously tied up the Royal Oak tragedy with a sarcasm that is prejudicial and stereotypical. There are many postal workers who don’t deserve to be interpreted as slugs, such I am sure there are many liberal politicians who do more than keeping a seat warm.

    After all democracy just works: You actually ended up participating in the process. Not bad for someone who used to think anarchy is a better solution.

    Besides that, a good piece!

    For the record: I am white, a Democrat and a voter.

    oh yeah, and a postal worker.

    Have a nice day,
    OG

  • cleansweep

    And why do you think the little lady wants to get the Tea Party on the ticket???

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OG –

    It’s interesting how a few conservatives here rag on the USPS, how oh-so-bad the service is and how lazy the postal workers are. They hold up UPS and FedEx as ‘proof’ of how terrible the USPS is. “Privatize all mail” is their rallying cry.

    But they really have no idea what they’re talking about, do they? I’ve yet heard a workable plan on how they’d ensure letter delivery Mon-Sat (soon to be Mon-Fri) to nearly every address in the nation…for that is the mandate of the Post Office. It’s like a lot of other things they do – griping and whining but providing NO workable solution…

    …except for what they think is the one cure for all that ails us: tax cuts! Especially for the wealthy!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Hey, Glenn, you missed a good one.

    I didn’t know “a sailor boy” was your moniker.

  • OG

    Glenn,

    I agree that a large number of those advocating the privatization of all mail have no clue of the universal service obligation and how difficult it is for any organization to deliver to every mailbox. The most likely scenario would see a rush of private companies providing delivery to the most profitable zones, while leaving out the ‘undesirable’ areas. Some of those who need it most would be deprived of mail delivery … unless of course they pay a higher price.

    Instead of focusing on the $5+ billion/year unfair retirement pre-funding, or the $75 billion they are owed due to overpayment to Congress … upper management chose to advocate saving $2.5 billion by reducing the delivery days to the American people.

    The USPS is one of the most efficient and least expensive postal service in the world despite its vast geography and monumental challenges. It processes 40% of the world’s mail volume (24 million mail pieces processed every hour) while adding about 1 million new delivery points every year. UPS and FedEx are constantly used in comparison to the the “inefficient government slugs” that some would like to label postal employees. The truth is postal workers deserve higher wages.

    Glenn, one thing that strikes me mostly from conservatives is when their rallying cry still claims that the Postal Service is funded by taxpayers’ money.

    OG

  • Clavos

    The USPS is one of the most efficient and least expensive postal service in the world…

    Bwahahahaha!!

    The truth is postal workers deserve higher wages.

    Another laugher. They’re grossly overpaid for the amount of work they do, and were back when I was a letter carrier in the 60s and could finish delivering a route that was supposed to take eight hours in four, but was told by my supervisor on several occasions NOT to return to the SCF until my shift was up. NALC for decades has fought management’s attempts to increase the number of stops per route, and other postal unions have successfully imposed a myriad of featherbedding rules over the years. Postal jobs are cushy, overpaid, over-benefitted sinecures from which it is almost impossible to be fired.

    Glenn, one thing that strikes me mostly from conservatives is when their rallying cry still claims that the Postal Service is funded by taxpayers’ money.

    Their deficits ($7 Billion this year) are.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    All public service agencies operate at a deficit and are funded by taxpayers’ money.

    Public transportation is a perfect example. Those are the facts, Jack.

    Whether it is good, bad, or indifferent – that’s a horse of another color.

  • http://etierphotography.blogspot.com/ FCEtier

    I “dugg” your article for you. It would be nice if some of the other commenters did, too.

  • OG

    “The USPS is one of the most efficient and least expensive postal service in the world.”

    Clavos: Laugh all you want … but that’s the truth. Do some homework on that when you have time.

    Carriers’ routes have been consolidated and expanded to a point of daily physical and mental exhaustion. I don’t know how it was back in the 60s, but the current employees are under extensive duress and harsh conditions. According to CareerCast.com Mail Carrier is the 10th worst job in 2010. The majority of people who want to destroy the Postal Service have either a financial interest in mind or they are just a little envious that the USPS provides decent wages to working Americans and a tad more job security than private counterparts.

    As I stated earlier, postal workers deserve higher wages.

    In regards to the deficits ($7 billion in 2010), you are wrong: the Postal Service has been financially self-sufficient (without taxpayers’ money) and paid their own debt since “since the early 80s.”

    Here is a little quote from USPS Strategic Planning (2006 – 2010) :

    The Postal Service is a self-sufficient agency deriving its revenues almost entirely from postage and fees paid by mailers. Postal operations are not supported by tax dollars. Revenue must completely cover the cost of operations, including growth of the universal delivery network, investments in future improvements, and numerous public service functions. The Postal Service must set prices to cover costs.

    Roger, the Postal Service is independent of taxpayers’ money. And that’s a fact, Jack.

    Have a nice day,
    OG

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Then where does the deficit come from, Jack?

    Just a propaganda? It seems you have a vested interest in your position. I couldn’t care less. Don’t use USPS anyway. In the computer age, it’s obsolete.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    “a sailor boy” – huh? Enlighten me, please.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    So how about YOU take a crack at solving the problem that no conservative can solve? Tell us how YOU think letter mail could be delivered Mon-Fri to nearly every address in the nation at a profit.

    It can be done, you know – by raising the prices not only of first-class mail by a few hundred percent, but also the prices of all that junk mail that you and I hate so much…but which is, in the eyes of business, so very crucial to the operations of much of the business world. Remember – you’re conservative, so you’re supposed to protect Big Business!

    What the USPS deficit essentially is, Clavos, is a taxpayer-funded subsidy…but this particular subsidy benefits not only big corporations, but SMALL business, too.

    Go ask your local small businesses which use bulk mail and ask them if they’d still be able to advertise in the mail if the price went up a few hundred percent.

    Do you understand the benefit now? Yeah, the USPS runs a deficit – but the REAL beneficiary is BUSINESS…which benefit, in accordance to conservative dogma, extends to all Americans. Including YOU.

    Oh, and one more thing, on your bit about the faked hours. I’ve seen the same thing done in the military and in the civilian world. Your error lay in that you are ASSUMING that it was the same way throughout much of the Postal Service. As in the military and most of the rest of American work, what you saw was the EXCEPTION to the rule – and you’d know that if you’d worked with me sweating your butt off day after day in the back of the building that the customers never see.

    But I’m still looking forward to see your solution…because I strongly doubt you’ll be able to come up with a workable proposal.

  • OG

    Jack, you’re missing the point. The Postal Service can inquire a set amount of debt depending on fluctuating economic conditions. So far, USPS has not used one red penny of taxpayers’ money “since the early 80s.” No, it is not propaganda; it is a fact, Jack.

    If you don’t care why are you such a vehement postal hater?

    I assume you don’t receive mail deliveries to your residence or business!

    OG

  • OG

    Correction of previous post misspelling (for those trigger happy jacks):

    “The Postal Service can aquire a set amount of debt depending on fluctuating economic conditions.”

    OG

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t need them. Everything is electronic.

    I don’t see why you’re objecting for a public service to operate at a deficit. I haven’t objected to the idea, nor have I argued that the postal workers job is easy – except for the usual bureaucracy. Obviously, you have an axe to grind.

  • OG

    Roger, I am only trying to set the record straight: the Postal Service is independent of taxpayers’ money. And that’s a fact.

    “I don’t see why you’re objecting for a public service to operate at a deficit.”

    I did not.

    “Obviously, you have an axe to grind.”

    Not exactly. I just don’t really appreciate narrow misconceptions and false generalizations being perpetuated about the Postal Service and postal workers.

    I still assume you receive no mail delivery … EVER.

    OG

  • http://hubpages.com/profile/Bob+Etier Miss Bob Etier

    Wow! Do people split hairs much around here? Sheeeesh! I guess Joanne should have written “I’ve often wondered why SOME liberals seem so angry,” which would please SOME liberals, I guess, but wouldn’t work as well stylistically. Joanne, I thought this was a delightful piece, I especially enjoyed the imagery–and the reminder of why living in the country is so wonderful–the lines at the post office are usually short (or non-existent).

    What’s with the anti-conservative guff, people? I’d hate to be a conservative on BC, I’d have to stay closeted so my “friends” and “colleagues” wouldn’t despise me. Being apolitical, I prefer to be despised for my writing. (And before anyone accuses me of being middle-of-the-road, let me say that I am definitely NOT on that road.)

    #18. WHAT’S WRONG WITH NEW JERSEY???!!!??? I guess you’ve never gotten lost in Washington, DC–now there’s a horror!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, mostly junk mail, still the greatest component of USPS revenues.

    You still haven’t explained. If deficits occur, whether it is 7 billion or not, how are they covered?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The people are angry, BE, not just the liberals. And they have every right to be.

    So yes, it could have worked very well, stylistically, to address the mood of the nation. Scoring political points only detracts from the message.

  • OG

    Roger, the Postal Service has a cap that it can borrow and must repay back at market rate – in case they incur a deficit. Sorry I wasn’t very clear, but the Postal Service is independent of taxpayers’ money. I hope that answers your question.

    OG

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That’s all I wanted to know, OG.

  • Baronius

    Oooooh, it’s about RACE, I tells ya! Joanne’s writing in RACIST CODE! She should be ashamed of herself!

  • zingzing

    where’d that come from, baronius? why you always gotta bring it up, eh?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Yes, that was bizarre.

  • doug m

    In a comment Joanne said it was the race of the individuals that inspired her to write, so not really sure what your point is, Baronius, although it does seem odd she didn’t mention it in regards to the man having the outburst. Would have better helped the imagery and the irony of the situation.

    It appears every side gets anti guff on BC, so I don’t see what Bob thinks the problem is. Plus, it’s very tame compared to many political sites

  • doug m

    In a comment Joanne said it was the race of the individuals that inspired her to write, so not really sure what your point is, Baronius, although it does seem odd she didn’t mention it in regards to the man having the outburst. Would have better helped the imagery and the irony of the situation.

    It appears every side gets anti guff on BC, so I don’t see what Bob thinks the problem is. Plus, it’s very tame compared to many political sites

  • OG

    Joanne also claims she is not a conservative, but she does project an anti-liberal (or is Democrats?) view. ‘Perhaps’ it is Joanne who is (also) angry.

    The Royal Oak Post office tragedy of 1991 was not neither appropriate or funny – to me. (And Joe also saw a problem with that.)

    OG

  • Baronius

    Gosh, I didn’t think I was being too subtle. I was making fun of El Bicho projecting that weird race thing onto the article, and indirectly making fun of everyone around here who obsesses on race.

  • OG

    Baronius, then allow me to say that you should work on your ‘ironic imagery’ presentation – ’cause you had everyone else fooled around here ;-)

    OG

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Herr Baron, I think you also have a tendency to obsess on race – just in a different way.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Perhaps it’s time to come to terms with it.

  • zingzing

    yeah, thanks baronius… and here we are back on race. great.

    we’re not even really talking about race. we’re talking about talking about race. and now we’re talking about talking about talking about race.

    again, many thanks. your services are no longer necessary in this capacity. for the love of god, don’t bring it up again.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    should have said “required.”

    It carries the sting of dismissal.

  • zingzing

    heh. only joshin’ with him. but he’s ridiculously bad about bringing that shit up all the time. it’s like a pet project of his. irony in action.

  • OG

    And all this time I thought we were talking about politics and (mis)conceptions …

    OG

  • OG

    BTW, I’m 43 years old.

    OG

  • Clavos

    Here’s what the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) had to say about USPS finances:

    Given the growing gap between revenues and expenses, USPS’s business model and its ability to remain self-financing may be in jeopardy. Action is needed to streamline costs in two difficult areas: (1) compensation and benefits, which generate close to 80 percent of costs and (2) mail processing and retail networks, which have growing excess capacity. Closing postal facilities is controversial, but necessary, because the declining mail volume and growing deficits indicate that USPS cannot afford to maintain such an extensive network. Information will be critical to determine what other actions are needed, including options to cut costs as well as their impact on mail volume and mail users. It is also imperative to review mail use, what future postal services will be needed, and what options are available in many areas, including universal service, workforce costs, retail services, mail processing, delivery, transportation, and USPS’s business model. (Emphasis added)

  • OG

    And here is what the Office of Inspector General (OIG)study had to say about the $75 billion retirement overcharge that USPS unfairly paid:

    “… the current system of funding the Postal Service’s Civil Service Retirement System pension responsibility is inequitable and has resulted in the Postal Service overpaying $75 billion to the pension fund. The OIG estimates that if the overcharge was used to prepay the Postal Service’s health benefits fund, it would fully meet all of the Postal Service’s accrued retiree health care liabilities and eliminate the need for the required annual payments of more than $5 billion. Also, the health benefits fund could immediately start meeting its intended purpose — paying the annual payment for current retirees, which was $2 billion in 2009. This marks the third time the Postal Service has been overcharged. In 2002 it was determined the Postal Service would overfund CSRS by $78 billion. Legislation in 2003 corrected this overfunding. Then it was determined the Postal Service was overcharged $27 billion for CSRS military service credits. In 2006 these funds were returned to the Postal Service by Congress, and the surplus was used to fund retiree health care liabilities.”

    Oh, glad somebody is trying to do their homework, Clavos.

    OG

  • OG
  • Clavos

    Overpaid, underworked, nearly impossible to fire whiners.

    Close it down.

  • OG

    Clavos, exactly what I expected from you: Prejudicial and stereotypical.

    I’m still open!

    OG

  • Clavos

    Prejudicial and stereotypical.

    Nope.

    Derived from personal observation and experience during several years employment with the USPS in three different cities in two states.

    The Truth.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    On the ‘excess capacity’, that is true. Like ANY corporation where demand goes down, the USPS has excess capacity. That’s why two of my three local post offices have been put up for sale.

    The point is, Clavos, that ‘excess capacity’ isn’t necessarily an indicator of fraud, waste, or mismanagement. In the case of the USPS, you KNOW it is a case of the ‘e-mail effect’…and anyone who knows something of history would know that very large corporations are not agile, not nimble, and take too long to adjust to new market conditions. Want a shining example? Look at Microsoft….

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Derived from personal observation and experience during several years employment with the USPS in three different cities in two states.

    Forty years ago…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    But what expect that things have improved, Dreadful? Given the usual trajectory of most bureaucracies, they rarely do.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    why expect . . .

  • zingzing

    doc: “Forty years ago…”

    don’t tell that to a baby boomer. 40 years ago, everything was better, and everything was the same. “the truth.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Roger, show me one large organisation which is run the same way today as it was 40 years ago.

    I’m not saying the modern Post Office is a bastion of efficiency, but Clav’s basing all that resentment on ancient history.

    It’s like assessing the Patriots’ Superbowl chances this year based on their record from the 1970 season. Makes no sense.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    No doubt, Dreadful. In fact, I’d argue against Clavos’s experience here, namely that the workers are worse off, and so are the working conditions.

    Doesn’t “going postal” count for something here?

    So Clavos’s “resentment” has another basis, in short, in a situation and set of circumstances which no longer obtain. I understand that perfectly.

  • zingzing

    wait, clavos was COMPLAINING about being over-payed and getting away with murder? sounds like the dream to me. well, a dream. it’s all wet.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    To his credit, zing, his criticism wasn’t self-serving.

  • Clavos

    but Clav’s basing all that resentment on ancient history.

    Ancient as to my personal experience, Doc, but also ongoing; NALC continues to fight fiercely (and successfully) to limit the number of stops on delivery routes.

    For proof, find the coffeshop or diner in Fresno with a parking lot in the back, out of sight of the highway. Drive in any afternoon beginning about 2PM, and see how many USPS trucks are parked there, and how long they remain.

  • Clavos

    Oh, and zing, once again you make an unwarranted assumption about me: I am not a boomer.

  • OG

    The Postal Service is definitely not what it was 40 years ago. In the last few years there were over 200,000 positions eliminated and yes, there are very rigorous standards and tight schedules. Recently, USPS went through a very intense cost-cutting program and is currently replacing regular positions with Transitional Employees and P/T Flexibles (lower wages and reduced benefits).

    The only overcapacity claimed by management is in the mail processing operations due to the decline in mail volume. Employees are being displaced and in some cases re-assigned hundreds of miles away from their community.

    There is a general misconception that the majority of postal employees are lazy bums, overpaid and impossible to fire. Not true.

    As I said earlier: “The USPS is the most efficient and least expensive postal service in the world.”

    OG

  • Clavos

    is currently replacing regular positions with Transitional Employees and P/T Flexibles (lower wages and reduced benefits).

    Kudos to USPS management!

    As I said earlier: “As I said earlier: “The USPS is the most efficient and least expensive postal service in the world.”

    Crap. The Brits, Japanese, all the Scandinavians, Aussies, Kiwis and the Germans, to name just a few, all do it better and more efficiently.

  • OG

    Clavos, NALC has just signed the third agreement for route adjustments. Trust me, routes have been much-expanded in the last few years. There is a general misconception that mail carrying is a walk in the park. (Maybe it was in the 60s).

    OG

  • zingzing

    once again clavos, you assume i was talking to you… maybe i was making a generalization? alright, alright, you caught me. you just look so young. you must admit your age (as well as background) does seem to change quite frequently, depending upon the discussion at hand…

    and you’ve got yourself a record of unwarranted assumptions about me, so we’re par for the course, eh?

  • OG

    “Crap. The Brits, Japanese, all the Scandinavians, Aussies, Kiwis and the Germans, to name just a few, all do it better and more efficiently.”

    I see you didn’t finish your homework.

    OG

  • OG

    “So Clavos’s “resentment” has another basis, in short, in a situation and set of circumstances which no longer obtain. I understand that perfectly.”

    Roger, if you can explain Clavos’s “resentment” – maybe I’ll begin to understand.

    OG

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com roger nowosielski

    Well, perhaps there was inefficiency way back, and Clavos was speaking from that vantage point – in terms of the efficiency of the operations.

  • OG

    Perhaps Clavos should volunteer to walk a route for one day at his local post office – when he has time of course – and then refresh us with his new experience. He may be happy to know that they are hiring Transitional Employees now.

    OG

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com roger nowosielski

    I didn’t know that.

    Imagine, getting paid while walking for your health. It’s a dream job as far as I am concerned. No need to pay for a personal trainer.

  • OG

    There are reasons why mail carrier is ranked as one of the worst jobs in 2010. Imagine, walking 7+ hours through any weather conditions, chased and bitten by dogs, harassed by your supervisor (who is harassed by his supervisor), sprained ankles and tired bones and a higher risk to injuries and accidents.

    But there are also some positives.

    OG

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    …a higher risk to [sic] injuries and accidents.

    My brother was a postie from when he left school at 16 until he was about 23 or 24. The job destroyed his back and he’s never fully recovered, even after major surgery to remove some ruptured discs.

    And Clav, while I’m on the subject, I agree that the Royal Mail probably is more effective and efficient than the USPS. There are some not altogether apocryphal stories of letters addressed along the lines of “Grandma Mary, The House with the Red Door, Cheshire” being successfully delivered; whereas I once had a letter addressed to Target – you know, that big box store which does business in buildings the size of aircraft hangars – returned by the USPS because the building number was off by one digit.

    But as for cheaper: no. Mail in the UK is certainly among the cheapest in Europe, but it’s still more expensive than in the US. According to the latest tariff (after running the prices through the XE currency converter), a first-class domestic letter costs about $0.60 and a small package costs $2.02, versus $0.44 and $1.22 with the USPS.

    Moreover, someone mailing a letter from San Diego to Boston, which is about 3000 miles, will still only pay 44 cents. The furthest you can send a letter within the UK is about 600 miles.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Usually, walking conditions you, but you’ve got to take in stride. It takes time.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The postie’s carrier bag, however, presents the problem. The weight is not evenly distributed. The newspaper carrier’s bag is much more functional and better equipped for the purpose.

    You must have seen them carriers, Dreadful, now and then. I myself was sent to Fresno for a three-day stretch with a crew to cover the entire city door-to-door, with Milens Jewelers’ fliers, I believe – for Mother’s Day.

    It was an experience.

  • OG

    Dr Dreadful, thanks for pointing that out.

    As far as Royal Mail probably being more “effective and efficient” than USPS, I am not so sure. Here is a breakdown comparison from a study completed in 2008.

    US/ EU comparative scale of postal operators (2006 – Mail Pieces per Full Time Employee):

    – US = 289,000
    – Sweden = 157,000
    – UK = 131,000
    – Germany = 129,000
    EU average = 115,000
    – Netherlands = 113,000
    – France = 92,000
    – Italy = 75,000

    Granted, one must be careful when analyzing this topic. The study does come with a warning on this: “This study shows that it is challenging to make one-to-one comparisons of the various liberalized or liberalizing developed countries. Each country is in a unique situation and uses specific measures to address challenges and opportunities. This analysis shows the US to be no exception.”

    USPS is one of the most efficient and least expensive postal service in the world.
    OG

    PS – A nice chart is located on page 18 of Postal Universal Service Obligation (USO) International Comparison International Postal Liberalization – Comparative Study of US and Key Countries.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Looks like you’ve done your homework, OG.

  • Clavos

    Imagine, walking 7+ hours through any weather conditions, chased and bitten by dogs

    Oh puleeze. Only a small minority of letter carriers walk their routes. The vast majority drive.

    But as for cheaper: no. Mail in the UK is certainly among the cheapest in Europe, but it’s still more expensive than in the US

    Well, Doc, with $7 billion deficits, perhaps the USPS should learn from their obviously smarter Brit cousins and start charging more.

  • OG

    “… whereas I once had a letter addressed to Target – you know, that big box store which does business in buildings the size of aircraft hangars – returned by the USPS because the building number was off by one digit.”

    USPS is using more substitutes to fill-in regular positions. A good carrier would most likely try to deliver misaddressed items, even though every second counts against them. The un-familiarity with the route and customers is the most likely reason misaddressed mail gets sent back to the original sender.

    Clavos, maybe you should try to explain your “resentment” so I can try to understand.

    OG

  • OG
  • Clavos

    The USPS itself admits they are hemorrhaging money, and will continue to do so without surcease well into the future:

    Our FY 2010 financial plan estimates a revenue decline of roughly $2 billion and a net loss of approximately $7 billion. These projections assume there will be no changes this year in the number of mail delivery days per week or in the current retiree health benefits prefunding schedule. If we were not to react and simply move forward with business as usual, the Postal Service is likely to have a cumulative loss of $238 billion by 2020.

    The Postal Service ended FY 2009 with a net loss of $3.8 billion, despite cost-cutting efforts that yielded more than $6 billion in cost savings and a $4 billion reduction in the required 2009 payment to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund (PSRHBF)…

    Of course, USPS management blames everything under the sun save their own ineptitude and the rapaciousness of their employees’ unions for their troubles

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, I was running crews of newspaper carriers during most brutal conditions, including El Nino. It’s no fun.

  • OG

    Clavos, USPS does not claim they are “hemorrhaging money.” They have released a study of the worst possible scenario if nothing is done. USPS upper management has used a private report in order to push an agenda that is aimed at reducing Service to the American people.

    Check out this rebuttal: “Subcommittee Chairman Stephen Lynch (D-MA), full committee Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA), subcommittee Ranking Member Jason Chaffettz, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and several other members raised many questions about the validity of the Postmaster General’s projection of a $238 billion shortfall over the next 10 years, the USPS’s claim that the elimination of Saturday delivery is essential to its future viability, and whether the GAO’s study has true value if the assumptions it used are now being called into question.”

    OG

    PS – Still don’t understand your “resentment”.

  • STM

    Clav might be basing at least part of his view about Australia Post on me sending him an express envelope containing a hat in a box from Sydney to Miami a few years ago.

    I was able to track it on the internet as it went.

    Because it was Australia Post, I thought it might end up going in circles via Outer Mongolia, but no, it went Sydney; Honolulu; LA; Miami … and in quick time.

    Miracle.

    I only say that because I once got a letter delivered by Australia Post that had been sent about four months earlier.

    I suppose the upside of that is that if it was actually lost in transit as appears, they at least managed to track it down and finally forward it on.

    Still.

  • STM

    Also, the local Australia Post postie(s) (they use small motorbikes here for the bigger routes that aren’t walked), insists on riding the bike across my front lawn, which cuts it up in wet weather and now means I have a track leading from the neighbour’s post box on one side, to mine, and then on to the neighbour’s post box on the other side.

    I’ve asked them to come up with a different strategy in the wet, but it’s made no difference.

    I suppose if everyone made them get off their bikes to deliver mail, they’d never get it done. It IS annoying though.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    USPS is using more substitutes to fill-in regular positions. A good carrier would most likely try to deliver misaddressed items, even though every second counts against them. The un-familiarity with the route and customers is the most likely reason misaddressed mail gets sent back to the original sender.

    Possibly, OG, but the impression given is of a mail carrier standing in front of a big building on Main St with a prominent ‘Target’ sign and the number 5150 on the side, and holding a letter addressed to Target at 5140 Main St in his hand – and being unable to figure it out.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Stan (#107):

    That’s vandalism, pure and simple. Sue ‘em.

  • Clavos

    Clavos, USPS does not claim they are “hemorrhaging money.”

    Didn’t say that. Said they admitted it. Did you read my link? They admit they lost (not “projecting”) $3.8 Billion last year, and will lose $7B this year, plus they lost 13% volume of mail in 2009 compared to 2008 — all of these are admissions of failure.

    Still don’t understand your “resentment”.

    What resentment? That’s someone else’s characterization, not mine. I resent nothing, just think that the evidence shows that the USPS is inefficient and a heavy money loser, so it should be closed.

  • OG

    Of course they admit they have lost $3.8 billion last year and are projecting a $7 billion loss this year. And of course they admit there was a drop in volume.

    What you said was USPS itself admits they are hemorrhaging money – I read your link and did not see anything like that. So, your claim is false.

    Clavos, did you know that since 2006 USPS is the only federal agency that has to pay $5.4 billion per year to prefund future retirement? If it wasn’t for this unfair payment, USPS would’ve pretty much come out even despite the economic recession and drop in mail volume.

    Your resentment may be obvious to others.

    OG

  • Dan


    “did you know that since 2006 USPS is the only federal agency that has to pay $5.4 billion per year to prefund future retirement?”—OG

    That is correct OG. That was because they became too profitable. They are not supposed to make money. They had to stash the extra money somewhere, or else cut their rates which have only risen about 2% a year since 1990.

    This has all been explained to Clavos before. He chooses obtuseness.

  • OG

    Thank you for your observations, Dan.

    USPS has already accumulated over $30 billion in the retirement fund before the 2006 $5 billion levy. That demand (heavily influenced by a Bush-government) has obviously placed the USPS at a disadvantage especially going through an economic recession. It is the only agency that is required by law to do so, which I can only deduce that they proved to be an efficient organization.

    Either way, postal headquarters have a plan to increase postage rates in January 2011. That is very sad! (And they are furiously advocating reducing delivery days to save $2.5 billion). The solution, in my opinion, would be to tackle the unfair ‘workshare’ discounts given to large mailers and reduce the cost of First Class mail.

    Oh, and Clavos has a right to remain obtuse – if he so chooses.

    OG

  • Clavos

    What you said was USPS itself admits they are hemorrhaging money – I read your link and did not see anything like that. So, your claim is false.

    So back-to-back losses of $3.8B and $7B (which are noted in my link) aren’t “hemorrhaging money”? What is, then?

    Clavos, did you know that since 2006 USPS is the only federal agency that has to pay $5.4 billion per year to prefund future retirement?

    Yes I did, and thanks for reinforcing my point. If the unions didn’t have such a stranglehold on that hapless agency, and if the USPS were well run, the government wouldn’t have to take such drastic measures to protect itself from the hemorrhaging.

    The USPS is a losing proposition; it is hemorrhaging money, it’s service is deteriorating at an accelerated pace, it is losing business at alarming rates, and it is saddled with an overpaid workforce. It would do well to send out a RFP, pick the best proposal, and turn the whole thing over to people who know how to operate in the real world.

  • OG

    “So back-to-back losses of $3.8B and $7B (which are noted in my link) aren’t hemorrhaging money? What is, then?”

    It is simply referred to as a financial loss. Just as GM, Ford and Citigroup lost a combined $73 billion in 2009, for example.

    Clavos, now I can see clearer your (and Joanne’s) resentment as ex-postal employees, but I still can’t understand your vendetta against all posters workers who still have to go to work everyday. One would think that you should have a better understanding of USPS since you both worked there in the past. Your misconceptions and false accusations are perhaps deeply rooted in grudge and envy. Perhaps!

    OG

  • Clavos

    Semantics.

    “Hemorrhaging money” or “financial loss,” the end result is the same: money is being wasted — reason enough to close not only the USPS, but GM and Citi as well.

    Ford (the only American auto company to refuse the bailout with taxpayers’ money), on the other hand, ended 2009 with $2.7 Billion in profit, NOT a “financial loss.”

    You don’t even get your facts right.

  • OG

    “Hemorrhaging money” or “financial loss,” the end result is the same: money is being wasted

    I don’t think so: a financial loss can occur without money being wasted. (different meanings, Clavos)

    Granted, Ford lost $14.7 billion in 2008. That doesn’t take away from my overall argument and the points I’ve made.

    So, according to you any company who posts a loss should be closed down. That makes no sense, Clavos.

    OG

  • Clavos

    Depending on the size of the losses and if the corporation is unable to recover on its own, without government assistance, yes. This was the case for both GM and Citi. Why should GM receive public money when Ford was able to make it back on its own? That is unfair to both the taxpayers and Ford, and worse, perpetuates and rewards a poorly run organization and those responsible for its financial ill health.

    As for your “overall argument” and the “points [you’ve] made,” you have presented your opinion, which is your right as a citizen, and mine as well, and I have also done so.

    I stand by my contention that the USPS has long since outlived its usefulness to the nation as a whole, and is no longer viable nor effective. The government should divest itself of this inefficient, archaic money loser, I will continue to advocate for that.

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    How would you see mail being delivered to areas that commercial enterprises wouldn’t cover on economic grounds, Clavos?

    As a secondary issue, I would also contend that too much efficiency is a bad thing. If any organisation is highly efficient, it has no wiggle room for when systemic shocks occur. Fat is where it’s at, on an economic level at least!

  • Dan

    The confusion is from not understanding what non profit organizational goals are.

    Fords goal is to make a profit. USPS’ is to have exactly 0 profit, 0 loss. a loss of 2 billion is more compatible with their goal than a 3 billion surplus.

    USPS’ competitors and other detractors–sometimes it’s postal management seeking advantage for contract negotiations–take advantage of the publics ignorance to propagandize the losing years as if those years indicated failure.

  • Clavos

    USPS’ competitors and other detractors–sometimes it’s postal management seeking advantage for contract negotiations–take advantage of the publics ignorance to propagandize the losing years as if those years indicated failure.

    It IS failure when it becomes constant and systemic…

    Chris Rose:

    There’s no reason not to stipulate to private carriers that the contract will include such deliveries.

    The real problem is that the bulk mailers are driving USPS pricing policy and have for years. If everyone, for sentimental or other reasons, wants to preserve this archaic mess of an agency, then let’s raise the rates (especially of the “standard” mail) to levels that restore the USPS’s viability, while simultaneously breaking the postal unions’ stranglehold on work rules and compensation/benefits, the way Reagan did with the FAA controllers unions.

    Then maybe, we’d have a postal service that actually worked and was truly non profit ON ITS OWN — without government loans or other assistance or indebtedness.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    So, if I understand your argument correctly, Clavos, you want commercial businesses to be able to run profitable services as they see fit but you also want to stipulate that they have to run loss making services at the same time?

    Of course bulk mailers should be made to pay higher rates, that way there’d hopefully be less junk mail, less trees turned into useless paper and the USPS would be able to be more balanced economically.

    We should also bear in mind that one of the reasons government runs various services is precisely because the private sector can’t or won’t on economic grounds.

  • zingzing

    ok clavos. we also need an armed forces that can fund itself and function as an incubator for baby soldiers. otherwise, we just throw money and lives at them and they just keep on hemorrhaging money and lives all over the place (well, all over the middle east). if the armed forces can’t support itself, it’s just a drag on the nation. chop it off! it’s outlives its usefulness to this nation.

  • Dan

    The armed forces is a worthwhile tax payer subsidized institution because it protects our freedom to engage in the voluntary free market enterprise system that has been so prosperous for us that it both affords us the luxury of and requires soldiers to protect it.

    On the other hand, the USPS is not tax payer subsidised. You don’t have to buy their products, and if you want, you can arrange for them to stop free delivery of mail to you.

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    because it protects our freedom to engage in the voluntary free market enterprise system

    a. we don’t really have a free market system
    b. at nearly 700 dollars a year, only a fraction of that has anything to do with protecting anything except defense contractor jobs

  • zingzing

    forgot a “billion” or $699,999,999,300.00.

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    yikes. 700, 700 billion…what’s the diff?!! ;-)

  • Clavos

    So, if I understand your argument correctly, Clavos, you want commercial businesses to be able to run profitable services as they see fit but you also want to stipulate that they have to run loss making services at the same time?

    When for the public good and provided they are permitted to price their high demand product/service to subsidize the public interest losses, yes.

    We should also bear in mind that one of the reasons government runs various services is precisely because the private sector can’t or won’t on economic grounds.

    Despite all the references to “free” markets bandied about these days, we already regulate any number of industries (my career field of commercial aviation is a prime example), so I see no problem with implementing and enforcing regulation that would benefit the public while allowing enterprise to make a profit providing a service or product.

    @#123:

    OK by me, zing. Since its principal function in recent years seems to be to enforce US imperialism, anyway.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s an odd thing for a conservative to say.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Not sure I can see this idealized fusion of capitalism and social subsidy working out, particularly in the USA, but good luck with your ideas, Clavos.

    As to your second point, there is a vast difference between regulating an industry and laying down terms that force it to deliver uneconomic services but, again, good luck with that!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Interesting idea, though.

  • zingzing

    clavos: “OK by me, zing. Since its principal function in recent years seems to be to enforce US imperialism, anyway.”

    you’re not getting any argument from me. my point was more “pick your targets.” see? conservatives and liberals can agree on things. unfortunately, shutting down the military or the usps is but a pipe dream. fortunately, pipe dreams can be blown up by pipe bombs. domestic terrorism! that’s the answer!

  • OG

    Clavos, I’m lost in your ideas.

    Allowing private enterprises to set their own prices while mandating universal service obligation to ‘unprofitable areas’ would be a disaster to the public – in terms of service and pricing. There is also the issue of multiple carriers and different price structures.

    “Then maybe, we’d have a postal service that actually worked and was truly non profit ON ITS OWN — without government loans or other assistance or indebtedness.”

    Clavos, once again, the current USPS is independent of taxpayer’s money.

    OG

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Silence speaks louder than words.

  • Clavos

    Clavos, once again, the current USPS is independent of taxpayer’s money.

    So they say. Who’s paying those staggering deficits?

  • OG
  • Clavos

    Fired from the USPS? Yeah, right. Nobody who hasn’t assumed room temperature is ever fired from there, thanks to those unions. If you’re breathing, you keep your job.

    I left for a much more interesting and lucrative career-track position in the commercial aviation industry, a career that I enjoyed for over thirty years.

    Carrying the mail was boring, offered no challenge and was serious under-employment, with no future of interest to me.

    I left of my own volition at my first opportunity.

    And I have the records to prove it.

  • Clavos

    Resorting to ad hominem attacks — the last refuge of a weak argument.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    BTW, #140 wasn’t meant to cast doubt.

  • OG

    Clavos, when you hurl insults at all postal workers as “overpaid, underworked, nearly impossible to fire whiners” (based on your experience from the 60s) – I guess you call that a strong intelligent argument.

    OG

  • Clavos

    That’s a description, not an argument, and it’s accurate.

    When the total compensation package of wages and benefits is counted, you are better paid than most private enterprise employees in similar jobs — this is true of nearly ALL federal employees, with the notable exception of the president, although he does get some impressive side benefits as well.

    Your union work rules ensure that no postal employee need fear being overworked, and most are decidedly under-worked. Again, for proof today, find a coffee shop or restaurant near you with secluded parking, and you will see USPS trucks there for long periods of time every afternoon.

    As for your being whiners: check out the entire comments thread on this article.

  • OG

    Clavos, first of all I’ve read your writing and the comments that followed. With the exception of the historical overview, it only proved to me that you clearly have a flawed view of postal affairs. You constantly contradicted yourself and are under a false impression that your taxes are paying my salary (or the USPS deficit). FYI, there are many dedicated postal employees who work extra hard and are highly dedicated to the service they are providing. I’m not sure what happened in the 60s during your brief period at USPS, but I can assure you that your view is heavily biased. Most of the people I work with are quite dedicated and often overworked. (yes, there are some exceptions but they’re few in between as I assume there are in any other organization).

    In my area you won’t see many postal trucks hanging out behind restaurants or coffee shops. Some carriers are being sent out to deliver mail well into late evening hours and a lot of them actually skip their own lunch and urinate in a cup in the back of the truck because they are under tremendous time restraints and pressure. Some do not even report their injuries for fear of retaliation. If you get bitten by a dog, or a container smashes your foot – it is alleged that it is the worker’s fault as USPS has a credo that “ALL accidents can be prevented.”

    If you try to keep an open-mind I believe that you can realize some of your false accusations and constant generalizations are based on false assumptions. Keep in mind that the USPS is not supposed to make a profit, can incur a deficit due to fluctuating economic conditions, has not received taxpayer subsidies since 1982 (NOT ONE CENT), provides decent wages and benefits to working people, does deliver non-profitable UPS and FedEX packages (LAST MILE), is burdened by a $5 billion yearly payment to prefund its retiree benefits and has over-payed $75 billion to the government. I guarantee you that USPS will survive these economic times and engage in alternative revenue generating efforts and still be the most trusted government agency.

    And it is one of the most efficient and least expensive postal services in the world – independent of tax-payers’ money.

    OG

  • Dan

    “a. we don’t really have a free market system
    b. at nearly 700 dollars a year, only a fraction of that has anything to do with protecting anything except defense contractor jobs”—Mark Saleski

    Purity of free markets, and efficiency of defense spending are different arguments Mark. Although judging from historical

  • Dan

    …results, I don’t have many complaints.

  • OG

    [OG, I’ve already edited your comment. You don’t need to keep reposting the correction.

    Cheers,
    Dr Dreadful
    Assistant Comments Editor]

  • OG

    Thanks Dr Dreadful – could you please also rectify the $5+ billion I’ve mentioned earlier. That is much appreciated.

    Have a nice day.

    OG

  • Clavos

    You…are under a false impression that your taxes are paying my salary (or the USPS deficit).

    As I pointed out repeatedly to all the tiresome and repetitive USPS employees who tried and failed to refute my article last fall, according to its own financial statements, the USPS receives billions of dollars in “capital contributions” from the federal government. The government has no money of its own (it is, in fact, a HUGE, parasitical drag on our economy), ALL its revenue is contributed by we, the taxpayers, ergo ALL the monies the government “contributes” to the USPS is taxes paid by taxpayers.

    It’s all there in the article, annotated, linked, and supported, including by the USPS’ own financial statements.

    You understandably want to protect your own sinecure, but I, equally understandably, don’t want to pay for it.

  • Mark

    Although the U.S. government remains responsible for the liabilities attributable to operations of the Post Offi ce Department (POD), the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 transferred the liability for POD workers’ compensation costs to us. USPS 2009 Annual Report p.66

    So, while looking at it in this way is something of a shell game, the capital contributions were for vehicles, property, etc.

    You can both be right.

  • Dan

    in Clavos’ article last fall, he claimed the USPS was on track to lose 7 billion in 2009. They only lost 3. As I pointed out at the time, Nearly the entire loss was due to the funding of future retirement health costs–something that was legislated in 2006 because the USPS was making too much profit for several years prior.

    As I predicted then, the board of governors cut the mandated funding for 2009 from 5.4 to 1.4 billion.

    The “capital contributions” column in the financial statement comes from the federal governments imposition of things like accelerated salary and retirement schedules for veterans. Also the federal government is a huge customer. Census forms, welfare and social security checks, some political mailings, free matter for the blind etc.

    The excesses of postal workers from Clavos’ day have been over for a long time now.

  • OG

    Thanks Mark, we’ll call it a tie ;-)

    Clavos, the $3 billion you claim as proof that you are paying my salary for my “sinecure” job was for the most part a financial transfer of assets from the USPOD (constituting the initial investment capital) to the USPS in 1971 ($1.7 billion) plus annual payments for public service costs between 1972-1982 ($1.3 billion). It is repeated on every yearly financial statement. The link to the USPS 2009 Annual Report you provided explains this (p. 68). Personally, I truly hope that USPS will return this money when it regains its financial viability, not because it has to, but only to protect itself and its employees from perpetual false misconceptions and crude/illegitimate insinuations.

    However, this transfer of capital is a legitimate act since USPS is a public service branch of government which “shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress and supported by the people.” [39 U. S. C. & 101 (a)]

    Besides, the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 entitles the USPS to receive $460 million per year from the federal government as reimbursements to its public service costs (a small fraction of the total incurred cost). Since 1982 USPS chose not to request this payment – thereby saving the taxpayers $12.5+ billion dollars this far, while continuing to operate self-sufficiently and independently of taxpayers’ money ever since. For more info on this visit USPS SP Ch. 3 Sect. D, p. 64

    Obviously, your attack on the Postal Service (and postal workers) revolves on the idea that you rather have no legal government and pay no taxes. But we do (and we will) Clavos (and perhaps Joanne too). Not only is the $3 billion transfer a legitimate act, but it also does not lead to the claim that you are paying my salary through your tax obligations nor does it imply that the USPS is “hemorrhaging [your] money“. The deficit is borrowed and repaid by USPS – thereby giving it economic flexibility bringing it closer to its goal of breaking-even over time, while also maintaining universal service and offering less expensive postage rates to the American people.

    But who knows Clavos?! One day you may overthrow the Government and become vvery rich. ‘Perhaps’ your first thing on the agenda will be to fire me (or @ me, depending on your ultimate political views at that time). Until then, I’ll continue to (also) work sincerely for my salary and benefits without your direct financial contribution. Just like you do, right Clavos?

    You have thus been re-refuted, sir! (… and ma’am!)

    OG

  • OG

    Dan, what do you think the chances are to revert the mandated $5.4 retirement funding back to a pay-as-you go system?

    OG