Not Sustainable…


A few days ago, it was widely reported that a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined that the U.S Postal Service was operating under a Non-Sustainable business model.

Imagine that.

Many reasons were given including lopsided union-backed pension and benefit arrangements, outdated collective bargaining contracts, limited use of outsourcing options, and plummeting volume due to technology factors such as digital and mobile communications.

Let me add one experience that may shed additional light on the demise.


Last week, as we have done often over the past fifteen years, we went to our local Post Office with a package of gifts and goodies for dear friends in Germany.

We arrived more than twenty minutes before closing, began filling out pages and pages of customs forms, much of which (like all the contact info) was redundant because there are only several content items allowed per page.

Friday afternoon… long line… two postal workers on duty… only one of whom was servicing customers.

All of the handwritten information was then retyped by a very frustrated clerk who admitted she “HATED” doing “these things”, and who then offered us the advice that, “if you want anything other than a postage stamp, you shouldn’t show up at five minutes to closing.”

“I’m sorry, my apologies…”, I said. It wasn’t worth getting riled about.

But here is the thing…

That package cost over $58, and the employee would have rather had me buy… a single postage stamp. Even if we HAD shown up at five minutes to closing (which we hadn’t), what other private business owner would not welcome a $58 dollar purchase (as opposed to a 44 cent purchase) just before closing up for the day?

It wasn’t always this way, of course. It slid, over time, into an attitude of non-ownership… non-service… entitlement… just like many other government-run programs and agencies.

And it is behind the concern that many have over the expanded roles of federal oversight that are on the horizon today.


I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Photo Credit:

Pink Sherbet