Recently I was emailing with my friend Daisy, who is one of the smartest people I know, about trying to understand libertarian viewpoints. We noted that an argument we often hear is that the private sector could do everything better. Exhibit A: deliver mail. And to my surprise, this idea makes me feel…. protective of the postal service??? As if they’re talking about my great-aunt instead of a public sector institution. Even though I’ve complained that my great-aunt can be slow and cranky and sometimes forgets things.
Thank you, Ben Franklin.
Daisy was saying that yes, of course FedEx and UPS are great—especially if you’re shipping to a workplace—but she thinks people complain about the USPS more often than FedEX or UPS simply because they use the post office more.
You have no idea how validating this was for me to be aligned with Daisy. Fun fact: a few years ago, she came to my house for Thanksgiving, and my dad told me afterward that he was proud of me for choosing friends who are smarter than I am. I hadn’t realized that we weren’t, you know, on the same level, but when I thought about it, I saw his point. Hurray me.
Anyway, this inspired me to start a list of reasons why the post office is actually kind of neat (bringing new depth to the term “going postal.”) The next time you hear someone slam our beloved gift from Ben Franklin, consider:
1. USPS charges 44 cents to transport your letter. Have you tried sending a letter at those private places? It’s almost 100 times more expensive. It blows me away that i can write a letter to someone I love 3,000 miles away, spend 44 cents, drop it in a blue box, and 2-3 days later it will arrive at their door.
2. USPS forwards your mail when you move. Can you imagine asking FedEx to please send all your letters to your new home, for months, thanks so much? Well, I’ve asked the USPS to do this for two apartment moves in the past two years and they did.
3. The USPS has products that improve your life. Of course, I’m talking about their adorable stamps. If FedEx comes out with an Elvis Pak then we can talk. Also: You can apply for your passport with the USPS. They bring you closer to the world!
4. USPS delivers to your door. It’s kind of amazing that this service is provided
for freewhatever pittance of my tax dollars goes to the USPS operating budget wherever you live. Yeah, the private sector delivers to your door (IF YOU ARE HOME!) but they generally they give you a short window, and then if you’re not there, they send it home or make you go to a location far, far away. Daisy points out that the FedEx location for Upper Manhattan is located in the East Bronx, nowhere near any subways.
5. The USPS’ parent company subsidizes the roads that UPS and FedEx use. Eric points out that if private companies had to actually build the roads they use (for free!) their prices would go up even more.
***PS: If you are in NYC, you can see Daisy LIVE. She’s an awesome storyteller!**