The Post Office: Doing All the Wrong Things in All the Wrong Ways
The Pony Express 2.0
Government is awful at doing…just about everything.
In no small part because of the rigid, unyielding dictates of human nature. Government, of course, being populated by humans - is not immune to these dictates.
Because of government’s susceptibility - there is the Yellow Pages Rule.
“What’s ‘Yellow Pages?’” I hear the Millennials ask. Fair enough:
Since the advent of the Internet, an increasing number of people no longer know what a phone book is. Thick, heavy tomes periodically updated and delivered to your residence – full of listings of people (White Pages) and businesses (Yellow Pages), their addresses and phone numbers.
Back in the Cretaceous Period - this was how you found contact information.
So - The Yellow Pages Rule:
If you can find it in the Yellow Pages - the government shouldn’t do it. Government should not open up shop and compete with private businesses.
For a whole host of human nature-induced reasons.
One of them - is our Wallet Rule. Which we just revisited on Monday:
“If you go out on a Friday night with your wallet, and you go out the following Friday night with my wallet – on which Friday night are you going to have more fun? Obviously, you’re going to have a whole lot more fun with my wallet – because you don’t care what my wallet looks like at the end of the evening.
“Well, government is always on other peoples’ wallets – ours. In gambling parlance – they’re playing with house money. Government will never spend money as wisely or well as the people who earned it – from whom government takes it.”
Government also shouldn’t do private sector things - because as government they have all sorts of built-in self-mandated advantages.
Which fail to raise up the government endeavors - because human nature. But instead succeed in bringing down their private sector competitors:
“Government – taxes and regulates their private competitors.
“Every penny for government broadband – comes from taxes on us. Private companies are paying the government - to create competitors to their companies.
“That certainly seems fair.
"And government – gets to regulate the competitors to its government businesses.
“That’s like a baseball umpire – pitching for one of the teams.”
Think that won’t skew the calls?
All of the above - and oh so much more - absolutely applies to the government Post Office (USPS). An ongoing, rolling, unmitigated disaster - because…it’s government. So it breaks all of the immutable rules.
Let us view the Post Office in two halves, Twix-style - the snail mail side, and the package delivery side.
The snail mail side possesses a distinct, authoritarian advantage. They have mandated themselves a monopoly. If a private sector business tries to go into the snail mail delivery business - they will instead go directly to jail.
Having outlawed any competitors - the government Post Office is under no pressure to do things…very well at all. Because where else you got to go?
And they can jack their prices whenever they want - with impunity. Because where else you got to go? They just jacked them again on Sunday. What are you going to do about it?
Of course mandating themselves a monopoly - doesn’t render them immune from all market forces. As government stagnates - the free market innovates.
The government’s snail mail monopoly business volume plummeted - with the advent of email. Rather than government adjusting to the market - it reflexively tries to force the market to adjust to it.
No, thank you.
And even with their self-mandated stranglehold….
Well done, Bureaucrats.
I’m sure one of the reasons the government mandated themselves a snail mail monopoly - is because they knew how poorly they would fare in a competitive marketplace.
To wit: The package delivery business.
In which private companies like FedEx and UPS - routinely eat the government Post Office’s lunch.
So the government Post Office engages in all sorts of accounting atrocities - that private companies like FedEx and UPS can not.
Government money - is fungible. Government pays for government package delivery - out of the same general revenue it pays for everything else. Which means they can fudge the numbers on one end - by stealing money from another end.
Imagine government as a huge pair of pants - with a thousand pockets. No cash in the package delivery pocket? No problem - just pick the snail mail delivery pocket.
And if both of those pockets are empty? Just run up massive deficit after massive deficit - and then pick the general revenue pocket to make up the difference.
Give the government Post Office credit for consistency. Just don’t extend them any credit for anything remotely resembling money.
Can a private business like FedEx or UPS lose $5-billion-per-year for more than a decade (and even more going backwards) - and continue to be in business?
Of course not. No private lender would continue to lend them money to continue to prop up their ongoing, rolling train wreck.
But government will - for government. Over, and over, and over again.
Because that’s just how stupid government is.
Really, really stupid.
And government gets its money - from us.
Aren’t we the lucky ones.
This first appeared in Red State.