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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Comments
John Crabbe
IAFF Corruption: Shaking Down Jerry’s Kids
Delusional? Take a look in the mirror Eric. You have come to conclusions without providing solid facts, all you've been providing is rhetoric and hearsay. You say the union is corrupt, you say delegates have no say, well gues what, there is a process which spells out directly how to address such issues, a process…
2015-08-29 15:29:59
Eric Lamar
IAFF Corruption: Shaking Down Jerry’s Kids
D- You are right, nobody cares. Where is our own local president on the issue? E
2015-08-29 13:37:02
Eric Lamar
IAFF Corruption: Shaking Down Jerry’s Kids
M- The simple fact is that Schaitberger runs the MDA as a for-profit IAFF business netting $1.4 million a year when he shakes them down. $1.4 million could help a lot of kids and families. All you will hear from those in positions of authority is silence. They just want you to forget about it.…
2015-08-29 13:36:20
Eric Lamar
IAFF Corruption: Shaking Down Jerry’s Kids
It's right on the IAFF website: $1.4 million from MDA. Please get in the game.
2015-08-29 13:33:41
Eric Lamar
IAFF Corruption: Shaking Down Jerry’s Kids
Prove it? Dude, it's on the IAFF website. Smell the coffee. refuse to accept the simple fact that IAFF gets a $1.4 million kick-back from MDA. It’s nothing more than a Schaitberger shakedown. $1.4 million could help a lot of kids and families.
2015-08-29 13:32:47
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