Discussion in 'The Sanctum Santorum' started by brettmcd, Nov 15, 2012.
People have tried, but he's completely uninterested.
I think I missed the part where it was explained why multiple utilities sending people to houses every month was more efficient.
Every developed country has a postal system in some format or another; they're all subsidized.
The best number I can find right now is 2.9 million. 2.9 million people live in sparsely-populated rural areas with post offices that were slated for closure. That may be "miniscule" to you, but oddly enough those people are still citizens. Invariably, the people hardest hit by closing rural post offices are the people who rely on the post office the most. Bill paying, medications, all sorts of things like livestock auction notices that aren't online and most people don't care about. There are still people for whom mail is important, and not just something you toss in the recycle bin (as I do with most of mine). You might be able to come up with a new system of debit cards and utility providers travelling hundreds of miles to go door-to-door swiping cards (haha), but what about the rest? And what's the point?
From this Washington Post story.
That's the solution? Save 0.4% of Post Office expenses, set up whole new systems to replace them, and still leave millions of people in the lurch?
Nobody seems to bring up the issue of redundancy, either. The Postman may have been a horrible fucking movie, but there will always be a need to be able to physically send or receive something and for-profit cannot satisfy those needs in a BrettMCDipshit fantasy world where citizens get screwed by privatization and are told to go move somewhere else.
So to summarize: closing post offices to solve the USPS's budget issue is like defunding PBS to solve our deficit. Meaningless ceremony with real impact on quality of life concerns.
Kind of like Brett's posting on BrokenForums.
So Brett's solution to the USPS' financial problems is to eliminate their presence where it is arguably the most useful. That is just brilliant.
At least in Canada, private couriers will not deliver in many rural locations as it is incredibly unprofitable. Those same locations terms to also be least-served by telecommunications companies. Removing postal service from those areas would leave those communities pretty stuck.
Six day service is kinda unnecessary though. We haven't had six-day service in decades and it makes no difference really. But I don't know whether its a big money saver.
No one is talking about removing postal service from anyone, mail will still be delivered, just like it is now.
There are two components to the postal service. Delivery is just one of them.
Many people live a distance from a post office, no one says they have had their postal service eliminated.
Yeah, just made really, really out of reach. Just drive an hour or two, assholes.
Also, some people don't have mailboxes. So if you take away the post office, mail most certainly will not be "delivered, just like it is now."
It must be nice to live in a world of fictional superlatives.
What people are saying is that the rural DELIVERY costs us a lot of money. Having an office with a dude in it is actually pretty cheap. If you're concerned about the budget, the latter isn't really worth cutting if it provides a service. If I wish to send a package or larger than normal letter via USPS, I need that office to be nearby.
Again: Rural post offices have a function. Redundant urban post offices are what should be on the chopping block if they were really costing us too much money. But overall, closing every underutilized post office.. won't fix the budget illusion.
LIKED for actually using BATED correctly!
By sending it on many small trucks from a further away post office rather than sending it in one load to the existing post office and THEN distributing it locally.
/looking forward to the super efficient single Post Office for the whole country USPS of the future
Where I grew up, we didn't have mail delivery, only a post office, and everyone in town had to have a PO box, or "general delivery" and pick up their mail that way. As far as I know this is still how it is. So, eliminating the PO (which afaik, had 2 employees) would leave the entire town totally screwed.
We also didn't have delivery service where I grew up in northern Idaho. There was a post office a that serviced a town of just a couple hundred people. Most folks had a PO Box and drove down to pick up their mail every day or two.
If that office closed, the next closest would have been about 20 miles away, which would be tremendously wasteful to have everybody drive an extra 30 miles 4-5 times each week to pick up their mail, as opposed to a single delivery truck that brought the mail to the local office and a single postal worker who sorted it each day, put it into the correct PO Boxes, and handled the day-to-day operations for sending and receiving larger packages.
Saving a minuscule amount for the Post Office and offloading that cost (and potentially increasing the net expenditure of all parties involved) onto private citizens makes no goddamn sense as a solution.
Wrong as always troll.
do you even amazon?
Do you? I often get stuff delivered from them via USPS.
I also don't know if you've shipped anything lately, but I needed to send something to my parents not long ago, and the price at UPS was twice that it was at the post office. Not everyone can afford to pay UPS's premium fees.
M-PESA solved this problem through a magical technology known as the "SMS."
Are you telling me we can't possibly arrange for text message bill pay in a country where almost everyone has a mobile phone? Or that utilities wouldn't find it more convenient to bill when they send someone around to check the meter rather than once a month for the astonishingly small fraction of the population that has no mobile, no internet, no computer and is intensely distant from mail?
Honestly we could just buy those fucking people a cell phone and subsidize their plan.
Oh you are? Well, fuck, you're right.
Amazon made me hate UPS and FedEx, both of whom only deliver Monday to Friday, 9 to 7. I am practically never home between those hours because like most people I have a job. I work in a high-security building and I can't have packages shipped to work. So I have to take a 40 minute train ride across town then walk 10 minutes through an industrial wasteland to the shipping facility to pick up in person. By contrast, if I'm not home when Canada Post comes by they leave my package at a nearby post office kiosk, where I can pick it up hassle free.
Aeon, god love you man, but when is the last time you didn't live in an urban environment? It's not quite as straightforward as you think to get the utilities, let alone local government agencies, to all just start supporting new billing methods. And that's not even getting to the point of adoption by the endusers.
But I digress, because doing any of that would only have a point if we presuppose that closing down rural post offices is the secret sauce to solve the USPS's budget problems (it's not) and that the only significant service these post offices are needed for is transferring money via check (it's not).
Seriously. Amazon boxes be droppin' all day, erry day on my doorstep. Haven't had one fail to make it.
Ordered something UPS, come home, stupid door sticker. Next day, another stupid door sticker, had to wait for my neighbor to be home/up so I could get it from him.
I have door people, they collect my packages for me. Aww yiss dat urban life.
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH maybe not since I lived in South Carolina, and possibly never. It's always been suburbia near a city center, or more recently straight up inside the city center. Fuck nature!
I don't think M-PESA style payment would be a huge burden on utilities because it'd operate the same way as a bank transfer. The hard part would be getting the government or banks to accept text based banking as a thing (they slowly are).
I agree that closing down rural post offices isn't a huge cost saver (it's in the evidence, yo) but it's absolutely not impossible to imagine a world without a government postal service.
You know what IS weird? No private postal routes, mail is an explicit government monopoly. I don't mind a public option, but there really ought to be at least the possibility for a private one that delivers for the price of the same stamp. Would anyone here mind if convenience and grocery stores could open mail service kiosks?
I didn't want to be the one to say it, but I'm suspecting never. Also, add "ultra dense" in front of urban - NYC is in a whole other class all of its own.
Rural utilities are increasingly looking towards automated reading systems to cut down on the largest controllable expenditure - personnel costs. For electric companies this means smart meters; for water companies this means meters transmitting the reading by radio (I assume being energized via water pressure).
Rural utilities no longer mailing out bills and instead moving to a horrifically inefficient in-person billing system is one of the most ludicrous cost-saving proposals I have ever read. It wouldn't benefit the USPS in any tangible way and would likely act as a net negative (less utility mailings) and would burden utilities with massive overhead costs for no reason whatsoever.
And that isn't even addressing the SMS proposal. Lord, dude. You're proposing that we have CELL CARRIERS act as third party payers on our behalf? Do you even realize what kind of a clusterfuck that would end up being if you had a dispute? And that isn't even taking into consideration whether or not the rural population is of the right age and aptitude to work out such a system - big printed bills and written checks are just plain easier to manage, it's why ePay systems have replicated the experience.
It's difficult to say what the relative utility of ideas like SMS banking are in places that are building on a diverse set of existing infrastructures in a complex economy versus providing first entry into an ad hoc infrastructure in less complex economies. Certainly you could make a case for why the installed base in lower income communities might provide a rationale for a closely regulated means of banking along those lines, especially if it were tied to low rate microloans.
Cell carriers might have to be turned into dumb pipes first, though, which is impossible to envision.
They already do to some extent; the QFC nearby my house has a desk that handles the less esoteric forms of mail shipping.
Even if you back out of the obvious stuff like bills there's still an irreducible set of things like "mail someone a letter" that sometimes can't be satisfied electronically. If you remeve the post office way of doing this - charge everyone the same to do it, no matter how hard it is to serve them - then you're going to see the cost of that skyrocket in rural areas.
Private agencies have successfully honed in on the high margin express delivery business, but nobody wants to take on the "deliver a letter anywhere for X" business because it's inherently unprofitable. UPS often dumps the last mile delivery of packages on the postal system.
Oh that'd be trivial. Just stop auctioning bandwidth and declare it all open access. You know, the thing we should have done at the start.
Competition from new entrants would drive prices down enormously.
Haters gonna hate, plenty of other countries do it. And FDIC insurance for retail banking by private institutions led to a massive decline in core equity ratios (I can ref that with a study, btw), meaning riskier banking. I think it'd be great, especially if the central bank got its head out of its ass and stopped letting banks affect the money supply.
Well, I mean prior to Fedex nobody did parcels either. It's a moot point because the barriers to entry in the mail business are legal and can't be circumvented. I don't have any problem with explicit Federal subsidies for rural mail delivery btw.
I don't think it's mechanically difficult. I think it's impossible to envision it happening given the trends in telecommunications in the US over the last half century.
This last bit is key. Aeon's SMS proposal isn't outlandish except that it adds yet another middleman layer, one with even less accountability than credit card companies had when they were first entering retail banking. The entire idea of forcing rural users to swallow new and untested payment methods long before there is a mass consumer call for a sea change just comes across as repeating all of the worst mistakes of the ATM -> debit card transition.
We're obviously going to reach a point where all of our payments, at least all of the ones that matter, are electronic. Instead of having ten different ways to make and manage those payments we are going to need a fairly unified system that is consumer-centric. Whether the method is via cell phone or not I have no idea, but the providers ultimately need to be dumb terminals/pipes whose sole purpose is to facilitate highly regulated internet wire transfers instead of loosely regulated extensive money grifting operations whose sole purpose is to lease or sell you the machines that enable you to take payments and then charge you set fees and percentages on top of that.
When consumers make that call and we're ready for a highly regulated, virtually exclusively electronic society, sign me up, but not before.
Why yes I believe I may have made a thread to that effect. Please be sure to bother your CongReps about common carrier and ending frequency monopolies. It's a long shot but if enough people get all shouty in favor of logic, why, we might get to stop paying astronomical per meg rates on all forms of communication!
Bryce you don't need any sort of regulation on the carriers. That's not how M-Pesa works. They're the bank, they handle everything. Carriers can probably snoop the message but a) all carriers everywhere can do that b) encryption and c) it worked in africa so it's clearly viable even in places where corruption is endemic (as opposed to places like the us where corruption is relatively rare).
And I'm not sure why you think sms bill payment and banking are foreign concepts. sms banking is offered by several us banks, including bofa. sms billpay is regularly used by charities in the us (red cross, text xxxx to donate to sandy etc). So (shocker) tech exists and is in us already. Utilities dont use it because they are the physical manifestation of a whittalink.
Wouldn't you need to regulate the carriers as banks then?
I'm not entirely certain that what you're describing with the "text xxxx to donate to sandy" and what a service like M-PESA provides are actually the same thing in terms of the backend technology and infrastructure in play.
AFAIK, SMS payments such as charity donations, ringtone purchases, infomercial purchases, basically anything that requires you to text one of those short numbers, are simply billed to your carrier and they pass the bill to you. These are incredibly controversial and for good reason, not the least of which is the fact that disputing charges is damned near impossible due to non-existent regulation. If you want to fight it, you're going to court, and most likely losing cell service along the way. Do you think that is a good idea to turn into full service banking with no oversight? Edit: For what it's worth, Aeon, it isn't, again, so much that I disagree with M-Pesa (which looks cool!) or that I want to prevent us from stepping forward in payment tech (NFC is pretty neat); I simply believe that, given the opportunity, sea changes that are the will of business often end up fucking the consumer rather than enriching their lives.
Banking by SMS is something else entirely. I can bank by SMS if I want. I'm fairly sure I can perform bill payments by SMS and I use a fairly backwater local bank from Fort Worth because they'll throw low interest loans my way through the magic of nepotism. The point is, if they offer it, I'm sure Wells Fargo does. The other point is that it still requires you to 1) have a bank, 2) have online banking, 3) setup bill pay (which some banks charge for) between your bank and whoever you are paying, 4) have a cell phone, 5) receive billing updates (usually just acct #, biller's name and amt) via SMS, and 6) be allowed to respond to those billing updates via SMS. Carriers charge for those SMSes, depending. You still have to receive the bills somewhere, as well. If a single link in that entire chain breaks, the entire chain fails. Therefore, payments made through a traditional bank authorized via SMS are not the same thing as paying by SMS anymore than paying with a Visa debit card is the same thing as paying with a PayPal debit card that automatically debits your bank account. Close, but not quite.
Not to get into this discussion, just describing how thing CAN be done.
Here in Norway virtually all mail is now handled through small instore desks in supermarkets. They receive and send packages, sell stamps, you can make withdrawals from you postal bank account (yes we have one of those) etc. It actually works really well, with the added benefit that your nearest post office now is also where you do your grocery shopping. And it does not seem to be a big burden on the store employees, they handle it pretty well.
Of course, the postal service still deliver the actual packages and mail in your mailbox, but the postal service have closed almost all regular post offices in Norway now, I believe that from next year we will have something like 4 post offices in the whole of Oslo (the capital with about 500.000 citizens).
Yeah but sometimes haters have a point. I cut out the FDIC bit in my quote because I think it has merit (for what it's worth, IMO the data shows that a move to limited liability corps had much larger negative consequences on bank management than anything else but federal insurance is in the top three for "second place"), and was only responding to the postal savings thing. No please to postal savings bank.
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