Perception in policy

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A few of you have e-mailed me about the latest list of post office closures, released on Friday. I think there’s an interesting gap between how the public perceives the closures and how the Postal Service perceives them.

The closures are getting a huge amount of attention. Newspapers across the country are running stories about them; Congress has called hearings about them; even Andy Rooney threw in his two cents.

To the Postal Service, though, these closures are a pretty minor item. I don’t mean they’re not taking them seriously. But the closures represent a tiny fraction of the agency’s budget/network problems. The latest list of possible closures includes just 371 post offices — about 1 percent of the Postal Service’s 37,000+ facilities. And closing them all will save, at most, $100 million per year, or 1.5 percent of the Postal Service’s $7 billion budget deficit.

John Potter, in his speech at the National Press Club on Thursday, basically asked everyone to stop focusing so much on the closures and turn to bigger issues, like 5-day delivery and new lines of business for the Postal Service.

That gap in perception obviously makes it harder for the Postal Service to implement what it believes are the best policies. Members of Congress are going to react to public outcry over post office closures, regardless of whether the Postal Service says they’re necessary.

But I guess it’s also an encouraging sign for the Postal Service, no? It’d be a bad sign if people weren’t attached to their neighborhood post offices.

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  1. The public is fickle. On one hand, they cry out over facility closures and the job losses those closures create. Don’t get me wrong…job losses aren’t trivial and I agree with “the public” that these jobs should be saved, if possible.

    On the other hand, the public is outraged at the news that “resource rooms” full of idle employees exist within the Postal Service because although 1st class volumes have dropped to levels that warrant reductions in staff, “no layoff” clauses in the wording of Union contracts prevent logical right-sizing. I’d also like to say that I believe unions had their place in our country/society, especially in times and industries where workers needed advocates to ensure safe/fair working conditions. Now…fast forward to 21st century America. What are Unions buying us? In the case of the Postal Service…the inability to foster an appropriately motivated workforce and/or one whose headcount matches the needs the business.

    So what’s the answer? Well, how ’bout the obvious? If the root cause of the USPS’s financial woes is that individuals and companies have reduced their usage of stamps and other mailing products, then how ’bout laying off of online banking/billing OR man up and take responsibility for the job losses and closures that going “paper free” is causing?

  2. The public is misinformed and ignorant they only here one side, managements. The few people who will gain the most monetarily is tada -management. Through incentive bonuses they themselves put in place. By doing this they get to weaken the unions , worsen working conditions, cost mail carrier relief workers their jobs, while lining their pockets. Great idea! From the same guy who said they didn’t have the money to offer retirement incentives then months later offered money. From the same guy when asked why he deserved more pay then the President responded well the president of Fedex makes a lot more money than me. What do you expect from someone appointed by Bush appointees with a long time antilabor history! Kudos. People need to comment on things they actually know something about.

  3. There are many private businesses that are fulfilling the need for a local post office. These businesses: UPS Stores, PostNet, and many other independent and small franchise, are business that employ thousands. $7 billion is just this year alone. Speaking as a small business owner if I lost that percentage of my annual budget, I would be out of business along time ago. Granted there is a need for the Post Office but it should be run efficently.

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