When Monopolies Fail

Postal Service Fails to Gain Federal Contracts

 

Let’s face it–monopolies are not supposed to fail.  By their very nature they have captured a market to the extent that they control the vast majority of business and are often, by hook or by crook, able to set prices and the terms and conditions of business.

The description sounds a bit like municipal fire and EMS departments who are interwoven into the community fabric to the extent that any alternative seems impossible, even outlandish.

Few institutions are more interwoven than the US Postal Service, the hidebound invention of the legendary Benjamin Franklin who served as Postmaster General.  Despite their history and longevity, they are in serious trouble, and have been for years.  According to the NYT the USPS had a net loss of just about $16B last year.

The USPS Office of Inspector General recently published a report detailing that 98% of federal government long-term shipping contracts were going to United Parcel Service and FedEx.  The Postal Service is failing to capture the business of its own federal partners.  Of the $337M in 2012 federal shipping contracts, the USPS had just $4.8M, or less than 2%.

Mail volume is down and some say that fire volume is down too.  Both UPS and FedEx gained a solid hold by providing services that USPS would not provide or could not provide by congressional action.  In fact, congress, the USPS equivalent of a city council has dithered while the USPS has been bled white by poor decision-making and outmoded business practices like Saturday delivery.

The USPS faces a perfect storm or confluence of business factors that was slow in forming but which now represents a pack of hungry jackals nipping at their prey.  Who knows where the USPS would be today if they had rapidly dropped outmoded business practices and if Labor had reacted quickly and effectively to looming competition and the Internet?

The first replacement of the “USPS styled fire department” is already here.  It is, of course, the fully integrated Fire/EMS department able to provide high-quality ALS treatment and transport using multiple platforms.  If your’s is a fire department uninvolved in EMS treatment and transport or dabbling at the edges, you are pedaling the equivalent of a 10-cent first class stamp.

The psychology of monopoly is ugly and failure-ridden.  Providers talk and act like they are the only game in town, trashing customers they perceive as being unworthy of their service or compassion.  Social media, especially Facebook, have opened an ugly eye onto “professionals” who take to the Internet to speak disdainfully of those they are paid to serve.  Such talk is  sure evidence that the talker sees no connection between their salary and their sarcasm.  Vent if you must, but do it at the coffee table.

The USPS is done for in its current configuration in part because of tradition, bureaucracy, and the inertia of management and labor leaders.  Whether it survives at all will depend on the success of radical and painful surgery.

Ben Franklin started the first post office and the first fire department.  Let’s learn from the letter carriers and make him proud.

 

 

 

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FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Comments
TheHonestTruth
TED2: Baggers
Maybe when the Democratic Party gets back to being the party of the working man and woman and stops taking on every other cause and affliction that grabs a headline, the firefighters of the IAFF will not wear yellow shirts in public and then "go red" in the voting booth. The height of hypocrisy. Feel…
2015-03-30 02:06:28
Bill Hand
Travel: Kissing Whales
Sounds like a great adventure Eric. That part of Mexico is much different than a Texas border town.
2015-03-28 05:05:29
Bill Hand
TED2: Baggers
Eric I am shocked that someone as intelligent as you would go for the simple race card. That is just way too easy my friend. I thought you could do better at finding some real issues with Ted other than labeling him as a racist right from the get go. I really don't like what…
2015-03-28 04:56:59
Joe Kameros
TED2: Baggers
Well there you go....... http://www.youngcons.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/aljazeera.jpg
2015-03-28 01:08:03
Joe Kameros
TED2: Baggers
The left's heads are exploding early.....all the snow this winter has caused a lot of pent up anxiety. Hopefully you don't subscribe to MSNBC's Jamilah Lemieux, who thinks that those who listen to country music are evil racists.....just because Rafael said he likes a little country music....SMH
2015-03-28 01:02:34
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