Monday, June 11, 2012

In This Months Business Monthy

It was during a recent walk with Mama Wordbones that I began contemplating the fate of the poor mailbox. As we crossed through an established neighborhood in Ellicott City I noticed that many of the homeowners had landscaped around their mailboxes. Some had flowers and shrubs while others were a bit more elaborate.
“That’s something you won’t see in Columbia,” I said in reference to the planned communities cluster mailboxes.

She was a bit surprised to find out that even single family homes in Columbia are serviced by these communal mail receptacles.
“I don’t think I’d like that,” she said

It’s almost irrelevant anymore. The mailbox is not the conduit to the larger world that it once was. It’s place in our content delivery hierarchy has slipped to a lower tier. It is conceivable that, in my lifetime, I will witness the phasing out of regular delivery of mail by an agency of the federal government.

I’d be okay with that. Providing mail service to every single household in the United States is a very expensive proposition. The USPS has over 574,000 employees, operates 31,000 postal facilities, and owns over 218,000 vehicles. It last reported net revenue in 2006. Since then the losses have been in the billions.

The argument for keeping the USPS is that it reaches every single home in the country, urban, rural, rich, poor and everyone in between. Not everyone has broadband but everyone, except perhaps the homeless, has a mailing address.

Still, at the rate these USPS losses are accumulating, we might be better off giving everyone a 4G iPad.

You can read this month’s column here.

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