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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Postal Service Plans Thousands Of Closures

(Flickr/bryanpearson)

(Flickr/bryanpearson)

From Fork, South Carolina, to Holmes Mill, Kentucky, Americans are waiting to see the fate of their local post office. Last month the cash-strapped USPS announced they’ll close as many as 2,000 facilities around the country.

Professor Richard Geddes shares his ideas for how the post office can move forward. He’s associate professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University, he also served on the Council of Economic Advisors under George W. Bush, and he’s author of “Saving the Mail: How to Solve the Problems of the U.S. Postal Service.”


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  • Live_and_let_live

    Robin, of all people who could say something useful about the Post Office dilemma, why do you have to talk to Richard Geddes (and nobody else who could balance his views)?

    Why is Geddes a guru on this issue? I am outraged by his insinuation that the USPS is outliving his usefulness.

    This is just another effort to privatize what used to be a very successful public enterprise — just so some bloodsucking “investors” can get rich on it, at the expense of everyone else. Geddes is just a spokesperson for this gravy train.

    You privatize the Post Office, and the cost of mailing/shipping everything will be out of control, just like healthcare.

    The only reason the Post Office is ailing is that the government allowed competition (Fedex and UPS) which took away profits from the Post Office.

    The USPS could be PROFITABLE for the taxpayers, if the right-wingers didn’t destroy its public business model.

    America never learns. We are constantly bamboozled by the “privatize everything” crowd. It’s pathetic.

    Robin, why don’t you ever challenge those faulty assumption that everything needs to be privately owned?

  • Sne42393

    Your guest is wrong in so many ways.

    The PO is OVER funding it’s pension fund and is FULLY funding retirees health benefits. Unlike every other company in America. This is why we are in financial trouble.

    If we could act like every other company in America, we would be billions of dollars in the black.

    He wants me to contribute more to my health insurance, when I am already contributing 65%. The PO’s contribution is maxed out at a certain dollar amount and the rest falls on me.

    Look it up. These are facts.

  • Denisokeefe

    Where is the balance in this report? Richard Geddes is a spokeperson for the conservative side of this argument, which inevitably ends in a public sector function being turned into private profit.
    Business interests took the profitable part of the postal service ( FEDEX and UPS) and left a system where pounds of junk mail get delivered for far less than your 85 year old South Dakota example pays for a single stamp.

    Then they have the gall to blame this on so called “overpaid government workers with unaffordable benefits”.

    The only surprise – and I must admit it was a big one – is that there was no hint of challenge to this right wing nonsense. There should have been. There also should have been full disclosure that the American Enterprise Institute is a conservative think tank that has yet to see a government function that cannot turn a profit for someone.
    As politics, business or journalism “this is pathetic” as the previous poster stated.
    I agree wholeheartedly with “Live and let live”, and respectfully suggest you revisit this story immediately in the interest of fairness.

  • Johnt

    I agree. Geddes and the American Enterprise Institute attempt to undermine government programs. Pensions and health care are not the problems. The information is out there. Anyone who can read, or watch films can be informed about what corporate America is trying to do. Go see the Inside Job – in theaters now. Seems like WBEZ has been leaning to the right more and more. I heard several years ago that Karl Rove and associates have been trying to move in on public radio/television for a long time – I can only assume that it’s come to fruition.

  • Hawkshollow

    I thought I would put in my 2 cents before I fire off a letter to R. Richard Geddes at 251 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall Cornell University
    Ithaca, NY 14853. What a closed minded interview I heard today on “Here & Now!” The trend at the top seems to be that there is no hope for the Postal Service, end the 6-day delivery week, close 2000 post offices, lay off 7000 postal workers, … How about we get some fresh faces at the top who know how to manage, brainstorm ways for the Postal Service to make money, trim salaries & benefits from the top AND FROM THE POLITICIANS, ….

    Every Rural Letter Carrier in country lost between $5000- $7000 in the 2002 contract agreements. We paid for the anthrax modifications to machinery/plants and all that the anthrax crisis cost us. And every contract since, we have taken a cut somewhere, somehow.

    I agree with the other conscious listeners who took the time to comment on the ridiculous interview we heard today. The Postal Service gave our business away to UPS & FedEx back in the 1970′s and someone got the bright idea we could afford to pay for the retirees’ benefits up front. The Postal Service cut off its own feet.

    Privatization is even more ridiculousness. My girlfriend sent a postcard to me from the Dominican Republic which cost her over $2.00 and took 3 weeks to get to Pennsylvania! The American people think they hate the Postal Service now!

    When my 2 cognizant Aunts heard about a post office off the coast of Maine who were going to be closed, these gals started buying all of their stamps from them! Now, that is the American way! Let’s start a trend by sending more letters and packages through the USPS and reverse the demise of a national treasure. Let us not stand by while these greedy politicians ruin another part of America like they did our railway system–which we now know was not the best idea.

  • Lauraj

    I agree with what other posters have said and would like to add that the Postal Service has not hired in over three years, and the productivity has gone up. The National Association of Letter Carriers worked with management on a route adjustment process, saving the USPS millions. It can’t be stressed enough that the Postal Service is the ONLY business, private or Govt that must prefund future employees retirement benefits, that right people who have not even been hired yet. If the Postal Service could adjust those pre-funding requirements, it would have been profitable in the last three of four years, even in the worst economy we’ve seen. We’re a “service” with a Congressional Mandate to provide universal service to every home in America. I urge you to interview anyone in the National Association of Letter Carriers, especially Fred Rolondo, our President to get another view. Privitizing isn’t always the answer.

    • Bruce Horton

      Right on Laura. The essences of the postal economic problem is the requirement that we fund in 10 years what other companies fund in 30 years. Rolondo needs to get this message out. KPBS should have had him on the show to enlighten Mr. Geddes.

  • Bruce D

    I’m disappointed that Robin Young did such a one sided interview on this topic. This man represents the views of the American Enterprise Institute, which has a very right wing slant. Those of us who continue to believe that the U.S. Postal Service continues to deliver a valuable service at a fair price— to ALL Americans, don’t believe that simply turning it over to corporate America will result in a better deal for its millions of customers. It hasn’t happened with other industries like health care, where high prices rule and service is often mediocre to terrible.
    Robin, please give us the other side to this story. There is one. Privatization is not the answer. Talk to leaders in the National Letter Carriers & the American Postal workers Unions. You might be surprised by some of their ideas & proposals. I would hope you’d do this in the interest of simple fairness.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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