When I was mailing millions of direct mail pieces every month back in the 1980’s it was kind of like the equivalent of the web in the late 1990’s, hot! Now it has been almost a couple of decades and the USPS is taking their lumps. They too have a business to run. They do a great job. We all complain about them but in reality they are an amazing organization, I’d even say that they are the crown jewel of the Federal Government even though they are a powerful private corporation or quasi-governmental agency who signed the UPU Parcel Post Treaty in 1880 with Bern Switzerland and the UPU (Universal Postal Union). They really report to Switzerland.
Changing gears, look at the adoption of Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and Gmail over the last decade plus. As of August 2011 Wikipedia reports that Hotmail has 364 million users worldwide and Yahoo Mail has 280 Million and Gmail has 191 Million users. Obviously there probably is a high percentage of these mail accounts that are dormant, I know I have a few. But still there is a lot of business being taken away from the good ole United States Postal Service.
Just yesterday the New York Times reported that the USPS might shut down if they don’t make some drastic changes or get a bail out they will just plain run out of money. With everything else going on in the world today in the shock news genre it seems like no one actually cares. But wait! Do you think they won’t care if that Social Security Check doesn’t arrive in the mail? I know they won’t worry about my little postcard mailings.
Here’s a look at the data:
While first class mail has dropped significantly over the years the USPS is still stuck with all of the infrastructure and labor, and oh by the way the Postal Workers have a union contract that says they cannot be laid off, how is that for a deal in these tumultuous times? They might not get laid off but they all might just not get paid!
What amazes me at this point is the silence is deafening and I have not heard or seen much online or in the newspapers about the travails of the USPS. Just wait a few more weeks and month when the next big multibillion dollar payments are due from the USPS and if delivery is disrupted we just may hear more than a little noise, we could hear the natives getting restless.
As an end note what about the artwork in the post offices that was created during the depression era? What is that value and how will the assets be divided if they are dissolved or sold?