The mailman has a bag full of bad news with offices closing, stamp prices rising, and services cut as the U.S. Postal Service desperately seeks a way to survive in our modern age. Many wouldn’t care if the post office became an ancient relic of the past, but recently I’ve also read many new proposals for saving this service. I’ll mail in my own.
Email and more instant messaging may be replacing snail mail, but nobody’s figured out a way to shove a package into their cellphone and text it across the country just yet. Ecommerce is exploding with planes and truckloads full of shipments traversing the world daily. Sure there are many private sector delivery options to choose from, but it’s a business that the USPS powered by Uncle Sam should be flexing their muscles and crushing the competition.
With all our technical advances, planes and trucks haven’t really gotten much faster compared to the drastically increased speed of modern life. You can shop online and buy anything with the click of a mouse in seconds, but it’s still going to take some time for it to arrive from thousands of miles away. Technology has enhanced our lives in so many ways, but we are still transporting physical boxes to each other in old fashioned ways.
It seems to me that the government could change all that with so many amazing benefits for most everyone.
I’m no engineer, but I’ve seen my luggage being moved from terminal to terminal via some advanced underground transportation system. I’ve seen high-speed trains and even those vacuum tubes at the bank drive through.
Why can’t there be an amazing package transportation network built that directly connects the post offices in all major cities and delivers our boxes at life-changing speeds fit for this instant gratification generation?
Probably because it sounds like it would cost a lot and require so much labor. If only we had some kind of massive stimulus funds to jump start the economy and a vast workforce to fill the jobs it would take to built it!
If Obama isn’t re-elected, as most presidents aren’t when times are bad, I think the failure of the stimulus to turn around the economy — or even give a symbol of hope for that — will be a prime reason. There was nearly a blank check written to try to change people’s lives, but it didn’t. I’d argue that some kind of inspiring national project with the aim of improving all our lives in the long-run (with the added bonus of short-term economic rejuvenation) might have changed that. Like Kennedy, he needed to shoot for the moon. [ 2012 UPDATE: Re-election no longer an issue, but as economic times are still tough you get the idea that more could still be done to turn things around ]
There are lots of ideas for small changes for the USPS to merely survive, but developing a new nationwide delivery infrastructure and fundamentally changing how we transport goods to each other is a game-changer that only the government could probably deliver on this unprecedented scale.