Years ago, when the post office started using ZIP CODES, they had a slogan, which went as follows: "Mail moves the country, and zip codes move the mail."
A few weeks ago, the United States Post Office raised its rates -- again. But this one was different. They snick in dozens of subtle changes which will greatly increase the cost of communication, especially for the small user -- for whom the post office was created.
If you've tried to mail a CD-ROM or DVD, you've probably noticed the rate went up. You are now charged because the mail piece is not bendable. If your package is not very rectangular, you are charged because it is squarish. If your package is more than a 1/4'' thick (and they won't squeeze bubble-pack through the slot for you) you are charged for that, as well. And you may well also be forced to declare the letter a "small package" and pay even more. And after 3 1/2 ounces, it's a small package, period.
So for example, what used to cost $0.53 to mail (which was already a rip-off) now costs at least $0.97 to $1.35, depending on which postal clerk you get. (They seem to be as unsure of the changes as the public is unaware of them.)
And it gets worse. Have you seen what's happened to Registered Mail and Certified Mail rates? They've gone through the roof! Increases of around 100% suddenly occurred in both cases! And these are just some of the changes. The "forever stamp" is a economic boondoggle, and the Postmaster General sounded like Alberto Gonzales trying to explain the firings of the U.S. Attorneys when asked about it.
The same day I discovered that most of my small software company's domestic mailing packaging was going to cost about double to mail, I received a CD-ROM from the post office itself, so I can set up a "post office at home." It cost the post office $0.17 to mail me that CD-ROM!
Are you getting the picture? Small businesses are PURPOSEFULLY being crushed. And the individual is being robbed. This is the very kind of HIGHWAY ROBBERY government was invented to STOP, not INSTITUTIONALIZE!
When I got home from the post office, Postmaster General John Potter was on CSPAN, speaking before the National Press Club. He made it clear that the post office considers the individual to be nothing but a destination for corporate junk mail. He also made it clear that to him, the "small business user" is a company that sends at least 20,000 pieces of mail at a time!
Are you a non-profit organization which does not want to use bulk mail, because of the inconvenience, or the cost of set-up, or the fact that you only have a few dozen subscribers to your newsletter? The post office doesn't want to serve you. Are you an individual, mailing letters of complaint to the government or to a corporation for a wrong you've been done? Expect it to cost you vastly more than it used to. Do you want to write to your Congressperson? Take out a bank loan.
But if you are a large postal user, the postmaster general has promised not just to keep your costs down, but to keep their increase in rates (for the bulk user) ZERO by increasing efficiency throughout the post office. That means, by charging an arm and a leg for the individual and small user.
But it gets even worse. The post office is also in the business of selling off parts of its business to other businesses because, well, they see it as good business. But it isn't good business for the post office's customers -- you and me.
Take registered mail, for example. Why did they raise the rates to $9.50, an exorbitant rip-off? Well, my guess is that they've lost a lot of that business, over the years, to Fed-Ex and other overnighters, because those company's two-day and three-day services are quite competitive and very safe. But they're not bonded, with federal liability for stealing or losing your mail, so really, how can those services compete with a service that has to deliver to everyone everyday anyway, for mailing important documents? The answer is: The post office HELPS Fed-Ex, UPS, and all the other carriers STEAL THE MOST EFFICIENT AND LUCRATIVE BUSINESS from the post office!
That leaves the post office holding the (registered mail) bag.
When postal rates are up for review, big business can send hundreds of lawyers to "prove" to the post office toadies that it costs vastly less to mail in bulk, and therefore, bulk mailers should only pay that "fair share." Never mind that the whole institution was built on the backs of the individual's penny-postcards. And the individual has NO opportunity to send even ONE lawyer in, to explain that BY LAW, it's NOT just the raw, calculated efficiency of mailing any specific piece that should determine the postal rate. You bet junk mail should pay for first class mail. Especially right now, when new robotic eyes and sorters are making it EASIER AND EASIER to sort what was previously impossible to sort except by hand.
The post office undoubtedly knows that new technology will make it quite irrelevant if the writing is upside down on a square envelope. Computer vision and robotic arms can straighten it out effortlessly and cheaply. But right now, the equipment they have isn't so good at that (because they didn't insist on better equipment from the equipment manufacturers) and so the rate structures are being set to reflect that, even though it's the post office's problem, and not the consumer's fault. CD-ROMs, for example, will NEVER efficiently pack into a rectangular envelope!
But it's even worse.
The post office is actively trying to get rid of its service as a tool of subversives. The post office was created as a TOOL OF SUBVERSIVES, so they could communicate without the fear of "big brother" (he wasn't called that, back then) watching them. That's why BIG BROTHER is STILL NOT ALLOWED to open your first class mail. But the Postmaster General considers the ideal situation to be where a bar code on every letter will tell where it came from, who it's going to, what service it's traveling by, when it entered the system, and so on. Total control, supposedly so they'll get IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK about lost or delayed mail.
But that way, they'll also know who your friends are.
Welcome to the biggest rip-off in history. The Post Office operates under fundamental principles set out by the founding fathers. With this latest postal increase, many of those principles are being trampled right before our eyes -- THIS generation will be the one when they'll say "the Internet destroyed the post office."
But it won't really be the Internet's fault at all. It will be Porter's. He should be fired, and the notification should be sent via email so it gets there quickly and cheaply!
PO Box 1936
Carlsbad, CA 92018