Over the course of the last 3 decades, I’ve respected the service of the USPS,† sort of the exception to the rule that a business run by government must be a flop. Looking at its bottom line over the last five years, it pretty well breaks even: some years it’s in the red for a few billion, some years in the black. Generally within the 2–5 billion dollar range.
This year, however, the USPS posted a loss of $8.4 billion. And its budget over the next decade (as announced toward the start of this year) shows no pendulum: a $238 billion deficit over the next ten years.
The agency’s demands for “more flexibility in setting delivery schedules, price increases and labor costs” suggest that the root of its insolvency lies in government strictures.* However, I wonder if it’s just incompetence. Here’s the ‘Track & Confirm’ report for a parcel that was shipped to me last month.‡ Read the ‘Detailed Results’ from the bottom up, and see if you can spot what’s wrong.
Here’s what’s wrong: A parcel coming to California from Wisconsin went through Hawaii? I’m familiar with the practice of sending planes to hubs not directly along their path, but this is not the same thing! Can someone explain this?
†Remeber when Doc Brown made that crack about the unreliability of the postal service in Back to the Future II? I stood by the USPS even then. (You know, right after they arrive in the future, and the weather service stops the rain right on time.)
* (I have no difficulty believing that the cost of labour is problem for them, as retirement benefits for state and federal employees tend to be exorbitant.)
‡ It was Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire (1998). Now I’m stuck after the second Rite of Rulership. Am I supposed to be looking for the assassin or trying to reach the Hydra?