By the year 2020, when we're all using ubiquitous organic touchscreens, augmented reality social networks, and ultra-powerful computers to communicate, will we still be using the mail? A group of technology evangelists and postal advocates will gather this summer to talk about that, and what the U.S. Postal Service can do to make sure the answer is yes.
The PostalVision 2020 conference will highlight how social networks and electronic communications continue to reshape the role of mail. Participants include Vint Cerf, Google's "chief Internet evangelist," and Jeff Jarvis, a blogger and journalism educator who has asked whether the Postal Service is even necessary anymore. Plenty of postal advocates will also be on hand, including members of a panel who have suggested post offices start selling gift cards and other retail items.
The goal is to discuss how snail mail might be saved, through dramatic structural changes or methods like privatization.
The USPS is on track to lose about $7 billion during the current fiscal year, the Washington Post reports. With that hemorrhaging unlikely to stop anytime soon, it's unlikely any investors would want to buy it.
John Callan, a mailing industry consultant who is organizing the meeting, told the Washington Post that the USPS is already working to address its current problems, but outsiders might have some useful ideas for its long-term future.
Eventually, postal services may be more useful for a much broader purpose than delivering coupons and J. Crew catalogs. The mail's unparalleled ability to reach everyone, everywhere could be useful for a host of services — delivering drugs in case of a disease outbreak or bioterrorism, for instance. Or monitoring air quality and traffic in neighborhoods. Or playing a role in the delivery and maintenance of nationwide broadband services ... the list goes on. For those reasons, at least, it could be well worth saving.
The USPS is an antique organization,akin to the pony express,that employs a huge,unionized,over-paid staff whose services could be replaced by privatized delivery.Sure,it can reach everybody everywhere,but so can Fedex. For the few times a physical letter/parcel has to be delivered, the govt could subsidize Fedex to do the job,and still save money.As the article points out,most correspondence can be scanned to PDF,and delivered electronically.
What if my girlfriend wants to spray her letter to me with perfume? Can they scan that into a PDF? Maybe they can just add a note to the bottom of the letter that says "this letter smelled sexy when we scanned it."
Do people realize that sending an email is akin to the security of a postcard.
When you send an email, it exists on at least four different computers, pretty much permanently.
People will continue to find value in sending a physical letter which cannot be duplicated so easily.
USPS, automate your systems like all other businesses. Don't be the typical government agency; slow to respond to technological advances.
Sorry, fire many of your employees and start making pipeline systems to deliver mail.
Imitate the world wide web in a sense.
-It would make delivery consistently far faster than by rail or truck.
Surely it would be very expensive to make the initial transition, but its possible to calculate how soon they would get a Return on Investment.
USPS its your call. Innovate or die.
If the post office stopped paying outrageous salaries to union idiots doing no more than what a Pizza delivery man is doing for 1/4th the pay, then they would be very profitable.
I have 2 good friends husband and wife in their lower-mid thirties, where one is a postmaster of a tiny little office location (like a manager) and the other is a common carrier and their combined income is over $400k!!! They are guaranteed MASSIVE pensions when they retire and get MANDATORY raises every year regardless of the economy, performance, etc. THEY are a prime example of what is wrong with the post office...
F' them. I have to struggle to make a fraction of what they do in the REAL world (non-govt)... Fire these idiots making $100k+ to put a few letters in mailboxes ... and stop the managers (postmasters) from making UP TO $500k each (that I know of, who knows, can be more!).
STOP THE STUPIDITY!
With online shopping what it is. The business of shipping stuff around is not going away until we invent the replicator.
two things the USPS could do to be better: Hire me, job title: REGULATOR; Stop stealing my packages, you're a Federal employee for fuxsake, and you have to steal the gifts I send to my family? Then, to make matters worse, you can't do sh!t about it because you'll lose even more money trying to fight for what's right. How in the hell do you hire thieves to work for a Federal institution, ie: USPS? sure, UPS and FedEx steal things too, but a Federally / Government - run operation such as the United States Postal Service? don't you at least drug screen these douchenozzles?
80% of the mail seems to be spam/advertising anyway these days. It would be more efficient for the post office to just put it in the trash and save the shipping cost.
Seriously, could they design a snail-mail spam filter?
Don't know where all of the salary info comes from, but I'm not sure that it's accurate.
Just looked it up, carriers go from 43k to 55k. And, I'm sure that they get a pension. Good, but not necessarily unreasonable. And there wage increases have some basis in cost of living.
PO has been at least a break even org for a while now. When they switched over to a non funded org some time ago, they also changed the wage scale for new hires. (prior to that it was a better job).
And it's not just 'a few letters'. I think that they work reasonably hard. Requires a lot of sorting walking and memory to deliver the mail. Fedex and UPS aren't really any better -- or cheaper.
The problem is, of course, email and the like. Volumes are dropping, and a service as massive as the PO is bound to struggle.
Problem is, there are some things that should be delivered via the mail. Providing a reasonable delivery with vastly reduced volume is not easy. Best solution might be that WE travel to the PO to het mail.
For less than 50 cents I can mail something to someone and with what...99.99% probability it will arrive. Do mistakes happen sure but not that much. In fact I can mail something to the USVI and have it arrive for the SAME PRICE as mailing it to Pittsburgh.
Spoke to the mail person yesterday and we discussed the challenges the PO has these days. She (like many others) keeps repeating the same thing - management comes in and changes things not knowing a single thing about how to deliver the mail. This is just like the military - ask the grunts doing the work what works and what doesn't. One more pencil neck gets into the mix and here we go with another 100 million dollar fighter jet.
Want to change how the mail works? Charge MORE for junk mail and for catalogs...much more. Charge MORE for packaging. Charge less for printed labels - more for handwritten addresses. Get rid of Saturday delivery - nope, if it's a check you are waiting for, you can't cash it anyway until Monday so we don't need it. Make US Postage a tax deductible expense. Why not - it's government funded. Change obsolete vehicles to electric. There's little need for a postal truck to have a normal gas engine. Use bikes versus those stupid vans. Use mopeds even. But don't junk what you have now - roll them in over time.
7 Billion...FedEx and UPS do as well as they do because they charge 30 bucks for overnight. How can the USPS compete? Better marketing to large scale companies. I'll GLADLY get my internet shipments via USPS.
And why would you ever pay someone to drive around a neighborhood to check your meter, to map streets, to photograph streets, to survey road conditions, to check for gas leaks, to check in on seniors, to monitor security...the USPS person can do all of these things without even a blip to their current tasks. Talk about outsourcing to a qualified and probably willing population.
I'm definately all for the postal service for a few reasons. First off, yes, it can be catagorized as an antiquated organization. However, so is the government and the internal combustion engine. The idea of just scrapping it is quite stupid. Lots of people losing their jobs if that happens. Yes they get paid a lot but it's a government setup, they get federal benefits. I do think that it should be re-vamped to work more efficiently. Maybe try to get some of those people from fedex and UPS in at some of the higher management. Like it's been said above, the security value of being able to physically send a package or letter from one place to another and know it's got a 99% chance of getting there for as low a price as the post office offers is good, really good. Companies that do it charge more. Modernizing the postal service as well as adding all the various means of information gathering to the fleet of vehicles it has could dramatically improve the value of the postal service. Also, for all the military personnel overseas and deployed guess how they get their mail? The post office delivers when the civilian counterparts don't make it there.
Yes,but any email client can be set up to encrypt mail.
At one time it was believed that the government both federal and city state should employ people at proper wages and therefor force the public sector to pay similar wages. It only takes a few seconds to look at California. People working at fast food places making $30K/year trying to buy $500K homes. This is the unjustness. Are the homes too over priced or are the vast majority of working class Americans being paid too low? Sure $50K at the PO is OK if you live in Arkansas or North Dakota. You can't live in Hawaii or Florida at those wages.
Part of the problem is automation. People send all sorts of stuff in an envelope. All that stuff can not be in an automated machine. PO won't spend a dime to tell people to stop that. Pencils, usb flash drives, chunks of metal, tea, too many folded papers, and the list goes on. When that junk gets stuck it takes the machines a few seconds to stop. Then 20 letters are in the jam. The worst may be bills that have open holes in the sides. So, 20 people are upset.
Same thing with parcels and flats. They too are automated. When junky packaging gets stuck a few more good packages get crammed in. Then 10 people are upset.
Sad part is people will willingly pay $15 for fedex and complain about $4 Post Office.
I agree that the USPS is mired in bulk mail.
The USPS and other agency's should have learned from the oil embargo and done everything in their power to protect the public from rising fuel costs. They could have had a huge fleet of electric or NG vehicles. They still have some natural gas ones but they have never been maintained and have not been used to it's potential.
The worst part of the PO is managements' bonus's. Management will never set a goal of the right mail to the right house at the right time. Their goals never include quality of the basic service to the public. In fact their goals tend to delay the mail and reduce the quality of service to the public.
The postal service needs to make money by doing a service, but times have changed and so have those services. Companies don’t want to do bill by paper mailings any more, and people are sick of being spammed to death. The mail service can solve both and make more money doing it.
First, simply allow companies to email directly to print billings at the local post office or even in the delivery van. This will allow companies to deliver their paper mail more quickly and with confirmation.
Next, allow customers to go the post office and get an official encrypted email just like getting a passport. A, simple flash drive with optional fingerprint reader allows your computer with your password to access your post office email. The post office simply charges for email deliveries: a penny for regular email delivery and twenty cents for spam email delivery. If you mark it spam than the post office makes more money, and you will receive less spam. An email delivery from you would also be low level proof of identity and citizenship to prospective employers, and would save the cost of a thousand miles of border fence.
The postal service means delivering the mail and serving the needs of the people. Our needs have changed and so should the postal service.
Please tell me where those crazy salaries are..what office.what state...my husband has been a carrier for 20 years and barely makes 50k..he walks 13 miles everyday..bags can weigh up to 50 pounds.he does walk in rain, snow, sleet, heat- he doesnt sit in a air conditioned or heated office. He loves the people on his route and they love him..It is a shame that the human touch is going away..life will be very cold and boring..
I cant ever see the post office being removed. To everyone that says fedex could take over easily you are so very wrong. If tomorrow we were to stop all USPS functions and trasfer all the mail over to fedex they would implode. They currently process probably 20% of the mail and packages that USPS does. Every Day I recieve 5+ letters in the mail from places all over the country. I dont think they have the infastructure to hold the amount of mail the USPS sees. Fedex may be able to adapt but it wouldnt be easy.
I agree that the higer managerial positions need pay cuts. The do not do enough to desrve the pay they recieve. The carriers and mail sorters and people at windows deserve the money. They each have alot of crap to catch. Carriers have to deliver the mail every day under any circumstances. Mail Sorters have to work horible hours so that the mail is sorted and ready to be deliverd in the morning. And the people working windows have to deal with daily irate cusomers.
Package delivery will be needed for a very long time. Small buisnesses are still having a hard time fronting the money to convert all their paperwork to digital versions. I still get information from large corporations via snail mail. I cant see them dieing anytime in the near future.
With better technology and more automation the staff can decrease and effencincy can increase.