Time To Get Realistic About The Postal Service

Let’s face it — the Postal Service, as we know it, is doomed.  How many people write letters anymore?  How many people under the age of 30 have ever even received a handwritten letter?

The U.S. Postal Service lost $2.2 billion in the first quarter of this year$2.2 billion!  Why?  There are at least three reasons.  First, usage has declined dramatically.  More people now communicate primarily by text or email.  The post is used largely for commercial mail, and even that usage has declined in the face of the recession and the decided economic advantages of relying on electronic rather than paper-and-stamp missives.  Second, postal delivery is highly labor-intensive, and gas-intensive, when electronic mail is neither.  And there isn’t much the Postal Service, in its current form, can do to change that fact.  You can only squeeze so much efficiency out of an approach that requires a guy on a truck to physically deliver junk mail to every stop on his route.  And third, the Postal Service is blessed with congressional oversight, which makes closing unprofitable outposts in small towns a political tug-of-war and has kept the Postal Service from achieving savings by eliminating unprofitable Saturday delivery.

The Postal Service has long been a dinosaur; now it has become a fossil.  Any rational person knows this.  If Congress and the President are serious about getting rid of deficit spending, our subsidies of the Postal Service seem like a good place to start.  Let’s stop them, and let the Postal Service do what it thinks it must to be competitive.  If it fails, so be it.  If we can’t sacrifice Saturday delivery of junk mail and bills in order to get our “fiscal house in order,” we’ll never be serious about cutting spending and balancing the budget.

Where Must Boeing Build Its Dreamliner?

At the oft-ignored intersection of politics and labor law, an interesting tussle is brewing.  At issue is whether a federal administrative agency can tell Boeing where it must build its 787 Dreamliner.

On April 20, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Boeing Co.  The NLRB contends that Boeing’s decision to put its Dreamliner assembly line in South Carolina, rather than in Washington with other Boeing production facilities, constituted unlawful retaliation against unions that have struck Boeing facilities on several occasions over the last 25 years.  As a remedy, the Board asserts that Boeing should be required to move Dreamliner production from South Carolina to Washington.  The NLRB’s action is seen as an outrageous power grab by politicians in South Carolina — which is a right-to-work state — and Congress will hold hearings on the matter.  Boeing, which has sunk lots of money into its nearly completed factory in South Carolina, says its decision on where to locate the plant wasn’t retaliatory.

We don’t yet know what really motivated Boeing’s decision to put its production line in South Carolina and whether retaliatory animus played a part.  However, an administrative agency asserting that it has the power to order a company to move an entire production line from one state to another is a breath-taking exercise of federal authority — one that should give us all pause.  Should unelected administrative agencies be empowered to second-guess where companies decide to do business?  And if moving production facilities from one part of America to another can be characterized as anti-union retaliation, couldn’t the NLRB also claim that moving production facilities overseas to low-wage, non-unionized countries is retaliation as well?

The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

This is my favorite time of year, by far.  Not because it is spring, either.  No, it is because when you go outside the smells are just amazing.  And it is because of this stuff that seems to be turning up everywhere.

What is this stuff, anyway?  It’s like every animal in the world has tramped through these wood chips and left their markers on them.  The smells are maddening!  Is that a slight scent of bovine dung that I detect?  Do I sense a subtle whiff of deer, or buffalo?  My God, could it possibly be elephant?!?  Why can’t I figure it out?

The smells are intoxicating.  I could stand there for hours, trying to distinguish between the various piquant fragrances that are wafting on the breeze.  Unfortunately, the old boring guy can’t be patient while I sniff my fill.  He’s always pulling me along.  What a philistine!  What is his problem, anyway?  Doesn’t he understand this is the best time of year?