Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Mail Man You Know

An editorial in today's WSJ on the declining need for the US Postal Service:

Whatever possessed President Obama to mention the travails of the post office while discussing health care the other day, his timing was certainly apt. The Postal Service is headed toward a loss of $7 billion this year and another $7 billion in 2010. Naturally, Congress is planning another bailout rather than the kind of reform that would recognize how technology has transformed modern communications.

Most mail today is delivered electronically via email. Traditional postal mail volume has fallen by nearly 20% since 2000, and the average household gets one-third fewer letters than a decade ago. But this is only the first stage of the decline. The transition to Internet communications means that the Postal Service's core business--from paying bills, to sending birthday greetings, to delivering magazine--is slowly vanishing. This is on top of the package business that has already been transformed by Federal Express and UPS.

Seinfeld episode #161 which originally aired in October 1997 called The Junk Mail:

Postal Employee: "May I help you?"

Kramer: "Yeah, I'd like to cancel my mail."

Postal Employee: "Certainly. How long would you like us to hold it?"

Kramer: "Oh, no, no. I don't think you get me. I want out, permanently."

Newman: "I'll handle this, Violet. Why don't you take your three hour break? Oh, calm down, everyone. No one's cancelling any mail."

Kramer: "Oh, yes, I am."

Newman: "What about your bills?"

Kramer: "The bank can pay 'em."

Newman: "The bank. What about your cards and letters?"

Kramer: "E-mail, telephones, fax machines. Fedex, telex, telegrams, holograms."

Newman: "All right, it's true! Of course nobody needs mail. What do you think, you're so clever for figuring that out? But you don't know the half of what goes on here. So just walk away, Kramer. I beg of you."

Supervisor: "Is everything all right here, Postal Employee Newman?"

Newman: "Yes, sir, I believe everything is all squared away. Isn't it, Mr. Kramer?"

Kramer: "Oh, yeah. As long as I stop getting mail!"

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