June 19, 2007

Obsolete post office

The United States Postal Service now charges more for less -- more postage for slower mail. Throughout history the post office has been sped up by faster forms of transportation and automation, but lately it has taken a step backward. Fortunately, a lot of its functions are now obsolete, and I'm making changes to take advantage of electronic communication. I'm trying to stop all my paper bills and bank statements because I can get them through the Internet anyway. I often have the bills paid electronically before the paper copy even arrives at my home. I hope that our government utilities will start accepting electronic payments without surcharges one day, too.

Federal law gives the Postal Service a monopoly on first class mail, so there is no alternative choice for that exact kind of service. I take care of bills through the Internet, and I try to communicate through e-mail and fax, so those are the best substitutes. But maybe the post office will run more efficiently if we can reduce the volume of mail we put through it. One strange idea I have read is that the Postal Service is actually hurt by decreased demand resulting from electronic communication, but if that's true then the rising postage rates defy the logic of supply and demand.

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