Monday, December 20, 2010

How I avoided the lines at the post office on Saturday

Saturday was insane at the post office!!! I took one look at the line that ran out the door and was 9 deep for the one automated machine and ran away. I went straight to my local Office Depot. I knew they shipped UPS, so I figured even if spent twice as much to mail my package the savings in time and sanity would be well worth it. I got into Office Depot and they had no line. They also provide the same service that my post office does, literally they ship USPS mail.

Declaring my victory over opportunity costs and monopoly I walked over to Starbucks for a celebratory coffee (which was free with purchase of 1lb of whole beans).

Now to convince Office Depot to perform other government services.

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poet~lover~rebel~spy said...

Seth, even better (as I just discovered for my Secret Santa gift) is Click-N-Ship, with scheduled carrier pickup from the USPS direct. Even SAVES you money on the postage. Awesome!

Bob Gitter said...

A good post, especially since I just finished grading my Public Finance finals yesterday.

So, what is the market failure that justifies a government run monopoloy of the Post Office? The only one I can really see is the fact that there is the so-called "last-mile" problem. It probably costs more than 44 cents to deliver a letter from my house in Ohio to someone on the frontier in Alaska, Hawaii or Tucumcari, New Mexico. But, for the good of the country, perhaps the externality of a unified people or to stimulate the economy, we subsidize thid and delivery service six days a week. Frankly, though, if people want to live out there, it is to some extent their choice and if it costs more to deliver their mail, they should pay for it. I would end the monopoly the post office has on first class mail delivery and let the competition begin.

Now, the question becomes, though, what other services would you privatize? Sell toll roads? I discuss this in class and the students think I am crazy, but Indiana did this. But, there are far fewer things we could privatize than most people think. (Please note this Gov. Elect Kasich of Ohio.) Seth's Mom works for the Ohio Department of Mental Health which provides funding to local boards who provide funding to local agencies. How would you privatize this? Low income people can't afford the full price of services. I imagine we could privatize K-12 education to a larger extent as well as higher education (says the person teaching at a private university), toll roads and a few other things, but defense, social security (the transition problem from public to private is too big a problem to solve), health care, etc. probably can't be.

Bob Gitter (Seth's Dad)

Jenny said...

I never have understood how people can complain about the price of postage. Sending a letter 3000 miles for .44. You can't beat it.

That said, it would be an interesting change to fundraising models to privatize the USPS. I've managed to stop most mail, but the fundraising pitches keep coming.

Jenny Greenleaf (Seth's aunt)