Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 2: Headed to the Hill

Hey! How ya doing? Long time no see.

The good news is I made it through my first day on the new job without any major difficulties. There really is no bad news, although I do have a lot to learn especially when it comes to my new co-workers and how things are done.

My first major task is kinda-sorta covering a briefing by an assistant SecDef. Should be interesting. Also got assigned to do an interview with our new incoming deputy director when she gets here in a month or so.

All in all, not too bad.

On to some other random things I’ve been meaning to write about, but haven’t gotten around to during the recent unrest.

I read this article last week about the troubles the U.S. Postal Service finds itself in these days. The Post Office lost almost $3 billion last year and is facing even bigger losses in the future.

One idea Post Office leaders have floated is cutting mail delivery from six-days-a-week to five, but congressional leaders have reportedly been cool to this plan.

To Hell with that, I say. Five-day-a-week mail delivery? Who the Hell needs or wants that?

There is nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, arriving in my mailbox today (and yours as well, I’m guessing) I couldn’t wait until tomorrow to get. In fact, most of the crap in my mailbox today, tomorrow, yesterday, last week and last year need not have been there at all. Do your or I really need another unsolicited flyer from the local supermarket telling us about the weekly specials? I think not.

I actually feel bad sometimes picking up my mail while the carrier is still there (my building gets its mail at the end of the day) and I end up throwing most of it away right in front of him. He took the time to haul it from the Post Office to his truck, his truck used fuel to bring it to my building, he then schlepped it from the truck to my mailbox and then took the time to slot it along with everyone else’s.

And then I throw it away, right in front of him. Seems kinda rude.

But, seriously, why should I haul the junk up to my apartment to toss it when it’s so much easier to just chuck it in the can five feet from my mailbox?

I say cutting back from six to five days isn’t nearly enough. Residential delivery should be cut to three days a week (businesses can keep getting their mail on all the week days, though). If you need something to get somewhere tomorrow or Saturday, you can pay the extra cost for express delivery from either the USPS or FedEx or UPS.

When a business stops making money or, in the case of the USPS, stops breaking even, it needs to reexamine how it does business.

The Post Office, like many businesses of the previous century, has been killed of late by the Internet. People don’t send letters and cards and such any more. They send emails, IMs, txts and such. (Note: I'm a bit old fashion, I still like to write the occasional letter. Despite checking our email 53 times a day, we all still get excited by a letter in the mailbox.)

According to its annual report, the Post Office delivered 201 billion (give or take) pieces of mail in 2008. This was off from 210.6 billion in 2007 and 211.5 billion in 2006. The article I mentioned above said the USPS expects a further drop of 10 billion to 15 billion this year.

If my business lost 10 or so percent of its work in a three-year period, I'd say it's time for some serious changes.

Like Lawrence Garfield explained to the workers in the factory he was trying to buy in “Other People’s Money” (a good early 1990s film, I recommend), there was a time when there were many companies making buggy whips. Eventually, there was only one company left making them and they were probably really good buggy whips, but who really cared now that everyone was driving cars?

I don’t know exactly what the Post Office needs to do to keep doing business, but I do know one thing: Like many other companies providing a vital 20th century service that became bloated by the end of that era, it needs to quickly figure out how to operate in a new millennia or it’ll die like the buggy whip manufacturers of the 19th century. (If you care, it's called "Creative Destruction".)

Who’s Your Boss?
Has anyone else seen that ESPN ad ending with the woman wearing a “Who’s Your Boss?” t-shirt and saying “Sweeeet” after she apparently completes a fantasy baseball trade? I must have seen that ad a hundred times in the past couple of weeks, but it wasn’t until this morning it hit me: Is that Alyssa Milano?

I know she’s a serious baseball fan, so this ad would make sense, but I just need another voice to tell me it’s true. Or I will go mad.

Mojitos Anyone?
This just in from the Senate: Some one of these days soon, you and I my fellow Americans, may just have a right our brothers and sisters to the north are lucky enough to enjoy. For a view of what could await us, visit this
lovely lady pirate’s place and read about her recent adventures in the land of rum and cigars 90 miles from Florida.

Wending its way through our lovely legislative process is the
Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act. Should this bill pass the Senate and the House and be signed by the president, we too will be allowed to visit and enjoy the sunny beaches of our Commie southern neighbor. Supposedly, we can’t go there now because of the repressive nature of the ruling regime and the political clout of a couple of aging Cuban ex-pats in South Florida.

Can someone explain to me why it’s wrong to go to Cuba, but it’s OK to do HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS in business with China, Vietnam and Russia? If those same ex-pats in South Florida really hated the Castros, they should have been trying to get as many Americans and American businesses to Cuba as possible over the years.

Nothing, and I mean nothing in the world, will bring a vicious dictator to his knees faster (they're usually men) than a green wave of tourist and business dollars.

That’s all for today, gotta get up to the Hill.


lacochran said...

Ooo, Cuba! Sign me up! I hear the beaches are gorgeous!

FoggyDew said...

ella - They are indeed, at least the ones I spent some time on at Gitmo way back in the day.

Fearless in Toronto said...

Don't worry, once those beautiful beaches are opened up to millions of extra tourists...they'll be dirty in no time. Yay free market economy!

LiLu said...

"But, seriously, why should I haul the junk up to my apartment to toss it when it’s so much easier to just chuck it in the can five feet from my mailbox?"

You're right. But I do it anyway... I can't help it. I'm a softie.

Ella said...

it's a hassle to check my mail - i generally avoid it, checking it twice a month at the most. unless i'm expecting something (which is rare - i'll have important stuff sent to the office), the mail is filled with junk and paper copies of things i've already seen online anyway. i wish there was a way you could opt-out of junk mail - anything addressed "dear occupant" or similar salutations.

JoLee said...

i check my mail MAYBE 1x week unless I know I have a package coming. Then I check it every day and hope in vain for the little brown and yellow UPS slip.

You make some great postal points here.

FoggyDew said...

Fearless - Well, they've been open to millions of tourists already, just not Yankees.

LiLu - Soft, just like a snuggie.

Ella - Another great idea. Personally I'd object to anything that didn't have my name on it.

JoLee - We all wait for those slips, December is an especially fun time.