Jim Burns on the Space Program and the Post Office

Written by Jim Burns

A few years ago, I was extremely disappointed to see that the government’s participation in space-related ventures was being phased out. I wondered how they could be so short-sighted. Then someone explained to me that the government simply wanted to move the space program ahead into its next natural phase of development. They knew that space exploration would never reach its maximum potential until it moved up to the private sector. What was needed was for private enterprise to work its magic. Only then would the development of space begin in earnest. Let evolution work.

Now, let’s talk about the Post Office.

When I was a young boy, post office branches were run out of a small window in the back of a neighborhood drugstore or a similar community gathering place. Some years ago, I noticed that the Post Office Department had decided that they were ready to go big time – really big time. They had begun to acquire large tracts of high-dollar real estate, and were building large and expensive postal buildings on them. Postal employees had begun to have post office-provided vehicles instead of having to walk their routes. My first thought was that they were beginning to spend money like a drunk sailor.

However, I knew I had no standing to criticize their master plan. Clearly, they had the keys to the social security vaults, just like the congress did, or maybe they were permitted to print their own money. It was none of my business.

Perhaps it could have continued forever if technology had not changed. (Hey – who could see that coming?) With the advent of faster, cheaper, more reliable email, it was inevitable that people would change their habits. The old guys on the Postal Board of Directors were clearly left out of the loop.

Now, you might be wondering how they could have created such a mess, with declining usage at the same time that they have created a massive infrastructure that has to be paid for and that cannot simply be abandoned when the money runs out. It would seem to be a case of massive stupidity, but is it really?

I stood in line behind a lady at the local post office this morning who wanted to see if her social security check had arrived (the Social Security people told her it had been mailed) but not delivered for some reason. She was desperate. A person who identified herself as the manager of the Dallas Beverly Hills Post Office told her they had too much mail going in and out each day to be able to waste time looking for a single piece. Further, if the lady wanted her mail handed to her over the counter there would be a charge of $600. In fact, the lady was told, she was wasting the time of the Post Office and must leave the building immediately or the police would be called.

What does this tell us? Combined with the recent announcements of Postal Facility closings and the ending of Saturday mail deliveries, not to mention the rewriting of guidelines to make slower service the goal of every postal employee in the nation, it is clear that the Postal Service is mapping out a new direction.

They intend to phase out the Postal Service as a governmental function. They know many people would normally object, but when the service gets bad enough they know every single American will simply be thinking “well it’s about time”. They are rushing with all possible speed to make things bad enough that they can go the route of our former Space Program. I can now see it is inevitable. In fact, they are succeeding in making their demise desirable. Rest in Peace.