The Royal Scam

By GREG MAFFETT
Published: April 14, 2011

In Great Britain they just passed a series of laws to ensure that the Royal Mail is the sole provider of universal service for the next 10 years. Over here in the US we have the saying that "The only true way to achieve eternal life is to become a government program". Because once a program is established, it becomes all but impossible to disestablish them, even long after there is a use for them.

Long term, they become a jobs program for the employees. That seemed to be the consensus of the British populace to the news. I should say, I'm not here to trash the posties. I like what they do and I think they do it well. Its more a question of whether life support makes any sense now that most of their reason to exist has faded into history.

One of the comments to the article I read about the Royal Mail was on point. "In my mail yesterday I got 7 pieces, all were ads. It must be frustrating for the mailman to know he is simply toting around rubbish that is bound for the recycler."

That comment applies to about 95% of what comes and goes in my mail. If it were not for netflix, I'd say 99% of what comes in my mail box goes immediately into the recycler. Added to that are the local businesses that don't use the mail and simply drop flyer's on my stoop. This is shotgun marketing. Get a lot of shot in the air and hope you hit something. Calling it a waste of trees is an understatement.

Like Public Libraries, the Post Office was at one time a great idea. It was critical to the success of developing nations. But just like the horses that went the way of the auto, the physical mail is going the way of the electronic version.

But Libraries are also becoming the dinosaurs of the Kindle age. My 75 year old mother is now a huge Kindle fan. She pretty much can't even get to a physical Library. It makes sense that Libraries are also a dieing breed. However San Diego is spending almost $200 Million in this day to build a new central library. How puzzling is that? Probably no more puzzling than the mail service.

Yes, "stuff" still needs to go from place to place. If the stuff in question is moving in volume, it goes via big rig or rail or ship. The stuff that moves on a piece basis is what is left. That small stuff going point to point, person to person is what is left to fight over between the Post Office and the overnight carriers. Because the Post Office also delivers all the marketing flyer's, they are in a good place to move mail from the grand-kids to grandma and the like. They aren't completely obsolete.

But legislative efforts to keep a dinosaur on life support can't be the answer. None the less, the legislators will try and keep the patient alive for no other reason than because it is still breathing.

The simple solution, looking at this as an outsider, is the 50% delivery cut. Instead of 6 days a week, you get mail 3 days a week. My guess is that keeps the PO alive for another 10 years while at the same time letting 30-40 % of the workers go off and doing something besides moving rubbish around.

I suspect that the folks inside know even better solutions. But I also suspect, no one is listening to them. Hence, the Royal Scam.

Any Comments?


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