Post offices, like libraries, aren’t as lively as they once were. So it’s like a ride in a time machine to see the past grandiosity of these institutions.
I had concerns about the Main Branch of the Post Office being one of Saigon’s top 10 sights on TripAdvisor. I mean, what’s it say about a city whose post office is a tourist destination? (A field trip for ten-year olds, maybe, but a must-see tourist destination?) However, both the post office and Saigon wowed me.
I heard on the news yesterday that the US Postal Service was backtracking on its plan to stop Saturday mail service. It turns out that they need approval from Congress to make such a change. Of course, it’s hard to get Congress to agree on anything, but–adding to the challenge–Congress is not really familiar with the concept that one must have money in order to spend money. When the Postmaster General testified before the House that the Post Office could not keep operating as is because they weren’t taking in as much money as they were spending, the entire chamber was seen to simultaneously tilt their heads like the RCA dog. The House’s best and brightest was heard to inquire, “Why don’t you just use other people’s money?”
At any rate, I have a solution for the Postal Service. Instead of offering junk mailers a bulk rate discount, don’t. Here me out. I know what you’re thinking, if it wasn’t for junk mail there’d be no mail. Instead of charging Ida Mae Bludgeonsworth–an octogenarian from Beaver Springs, Montana who is the last remaining sender of private letters–half a dollar and charging Citibank ten cents, you flip it. Yes, it’s true that if one increases the cost to the credit card companies to spam us to, say, $3 then revenues won’t increase (remember discussion of Laffer Curves from Macroeconomics? I didn’t think so. The idea is that as you raise tax rates eventually you will reach a point where revenues decline because people will not feel an incentive to work anymore. There is great controversy about where we are on the Laffer curve at any moment, but that such a tipping point exists is undeniable–i.e. how many hours a week would you work if you paid zero income taxes? How many, if you paid 100% of income to taxes?) So revenues would likely decline (or your interest rate would shoot up), but if one cut out junk mail, the Post Office would only have to deliver to my house once a week–a substantial savings.
I know it’s always hard to see a career field go the way of the dodo. We have great sympathy for the typewriter repairmen and personal travel agents of this world, but it may be better to rip the bandage off swiftly.
You may wonder why I harbor ill-will towards the makers of junk mail? The person I particularly hate is the evil genius who decided to start putting plastic mock credit cards in each piece of credit card junk mail. Up until then, I didn’t even need to bother with opening envelopes, I could simply drop the junk mail into the shredder whole. Now I have to be bothered with either a.) opening the letter and extracting the shredder-killing blockage, b.) purchasing an industrial strength chipper-shredder. I think I should be able to charge junk mailers for my time for making it such a pain to discard their “pre-approved” offer–which has to be shredded because it is half filled out with information they shouldn’t even have and is thus a case of fraud waiting to happen.