By Michael Gold
Have you ever had a wonderful friend for scores of years, who is extremely reliable, then goes completely off the rails and you never hear from him again? Or hard whiskey that suddenly stops getting you drunk?
That’s the way I feel about the U.S. Postal Service.
The Postal Service used to be one of those things you never had to think about.
Remember that old phrase, “the check is in the mail?” That meant you were going to see your letter in a reasonable and predictable amount of time, no matter what. You didn’t need to worry. The post office was as reliable as day coming after night.
Not anymore. The U. S. Postal Service is damaged. On Mar. 14, I sent a check in the mail to Stamford, Conn., 25 miles away. As of Mar. 25, it had not arrived. That’s not a very long way to go nowhere fast.
I now have to think about where the letter is, which I never had to do before, ever.
Is the letter enjoying a martini in the Cayman Islands? Or meeting the British prime minister to discuss the future of NATO? Maybe the letter is hitchhiking to the Arctic Circle to watch the Aurora Borealis.
I may never find out.
People in general don’t send letters anymore and now they have even more reason not to. I still send letters. It feels more human to me than e-mail. But now, I have to wonder, is my letter ever going to arrive where I want it to go?
People now often receive their pharmaceuticals in the mail. Also, important financial information is delivered by mail, from the IRS, banks, insurance companies and brokerage houses. We need the Postal Service to work extremely efficiently.
But now, the post office has become as unreliable as a television wrestler asked to teach kindergarten.
The Pony Express worked far better.
What to do?
We could recruit the world’s fastest land animal, the cheetah, to run with the mail to our needed destinations.
Cheetahs can run 70 miles an hour, but only for about 30 seconds a shot. So, they’d have to work in a relay system to deliver the mail. Of course, training them could take some time and you’d need body armor to do it.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has proposed expanding the amount of time needed to deliver a first-class letter, raising prices and cutting costs. He also wants to cut the number of hours local post offices are open.
Wait a minute. You want me to pay more for worse service? Are you serious, Mr. DeJoy? (Was there ever a man more misnamed?)
If you lengthen delivery times, you will make the Postal Service even more unreliable (and it’s pretty shaky right now). Fewer people will want to mail things. Higher prices will also help cut down your customer base.
People who can afford to will turn to alternative, private methods. The postal service will be forced to cut services and lengthen delivery times and increase prices as its customer base deteriorates.
Which may be the postmaster general’s goal.
This is the same guy who threw out hundreds of postal sorting machines last year, before millions of people were sending in their absentee ballots during the Presidential election. He also forbade late or extra trips by carriers to deliver the mail. He removed some mail collection boxes from the streets.
DeJoy’s former employer, New Breed Logistics, may have overbilled the Postal Sservice $53 million for contracting services, such as delivering the mail, according to the Postal Times.
DeJoy owns stock in XPO Logistics, which bought New Breed. He has shares worth anywhere from $30 million to $75 million in this company, which has current contracts with the Postal Service to deliver mail in the U.S.
The USPS has paid $286 million to XPO since 2013, according to The New York Times. XPO’s revenue from the Postal Service increased $14 million in just 10 weeks last fall, about three to four months after DeJoy became the postmaster general.
XPO is paying DeJoy about $2 million a year for office space he owns in North Carolina, through 2025.
This all adds up to a T-Rex-sized conflict of interest, does it not?
DeJoy’s tenure doesn’t even begin to pass the smell test. He has skunk smell all over him.
As far as my lost letter, I may wander off in search of the little runaway.
I’ll start with Las Vegas. You can always count on a slot machine to take your money without giving anything in return. I don’t need the Postal Service to do it.
Pleasantville resident Michael Gold has written op-ed articles for the New York Daily News, the Albany Times-Union and other newspapers.