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    The Continental Congress created a national postal service on July 26, 1775, appointing Benjamin Franklin the first United States Post Master.  The Founding Fathers (apparently unanimously) believed Federal establishment of a national mail delivery service extremely important.  Franklin had been postmaster for the colonial mail system which was run like any business; to create the NPS, Franklin merely had to change the signs on the doors and the pictures on the stamps.

     In 1789, when enacting the US Constitution, Congress emphasized their belief that a national postal service was very important.  Constitution Article I directs Congress “To establish Postal Services and post Roads.”  This provided the impetus for enormous USPS expansion and profits.  Most of our roads, still used today, were established by and paid for by profits earned by the United States Postal Service.

     President Washington strongly supported a national postal service.  He felt that it would help bind out nation together and assist with expansion. Washington appointed Samuel Osgood, a businessman from Massachusetts, US Postmaster in 1789.  

     Osgood had several ideas for improving integrity and efficiency.  One recommendation was to prohibit free riding, where private mail carriers paid by the government also had their own little side business.  This allowed people to skim profits while use the roads and routes mostly paid for by the US government.  Prior to 1792, people could lawfully take profits for themselves by putting private letters on the USPS carriers. Or they could just open a competing business along a USPS pioneered  profitable route. Osgood proposed Congress stop that. In 1792, Congress did.  It enacted the private express statutes, created a mail monopoly.  

     By creating a mail monopoly and leaving only express delivery in private hands, Congress cut out the many free loaders siphoning off USPS profits.  To make the USPS's job easier, Congress also restricted USPS delivery points solely for USPS use.  

     Another Osgood idea:  prepaid postal service. Prepaid delivery was also a successful innovation. Previously, the recipient paid upon delivery of the mail.  Prepaid postage is far more efficient.  First, the post office got paid more quickly; second, prepaid post eliminates the arduous task of chasing people for the postage fee after the USPS had already having performed its service.

      Today, the USPS has run so well for so long people take it for granted. The rest of the world has copied us. Before national postal services, mail delivery was chancy, delivered by ship captains and merchants. Reliable mail delivery over distance was rare.  For most places, it did not exist.  

    By 1795, at the end of the eight year Washington administration, the number of post offices had increased from 75 to 453; postal roads lengthened from 2,000 to 13,207 miles; postal income increased from $25,000 to $160,620.   Even with expenses required to create roads and establish post offices, the United States Postal Service was profitable in each year of Washington's administration.

     The next post master was Gideon Granger, another able manager.  Using Osgood’s reforms and continuing with further efficiency improvements, the postal service became so profitable that President Jefferson wanted to reduce mail rates. Unlike postal champions Franklin and Washington, who each died quite wealthy, Jefferson lived on loans, the labor of slaves, and died bankrupt.  Sound business practice was not a Jefferson strength. Still, the USPS remained profitable until it ran into President Andrew Jackson's administration, which finally enacted some of Jefferson's small government ideas to disastrous effect on the US economy and caused the first USPS deficit.    

    As Franklin, Washington and others predicted, the postal service greatly helped settlers as they moved west.  Many towns and cities owe their existence to the USPS, as they were located on roads around post offices paid for by the United States Postal Service.


Given the success of the United States and its Postal Service, we should

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| 88 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    “Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.” ― Will Rogers (Of course this also applies to me.)

    by MugWumpBlues on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 07:00:22 AM PDT

  •  as recently as the early 1960s... (10+ / 0-)

    ... there were two mail deliveries per day: morning and afternoon.

    The General Post Office (GPO) in the UK at one point ran five deliveries per day.  

    With either of these systems you could carry out most of your business and daily activities by mail.

    What Congress is up to right now boils down to this: they see dollar signs in the postal biz and they want to give it away to their oligarch cronies.  So they set up an impossible pension rule, unique to the Post Office, designed to drive it out of business.  By doing that, they can reduce its book value to a pittance, the easier to sell it at fire-sale prices, to their cronies.

    This is disgusting and downright un-American, and the bastards doing it should be made to read the Founders' words out loud in front of Congress and then apologize for their attempt to sabotage a core American institution.

    We got the future back. Uh-oh.

    by G2geek on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 07:14:58 AM PDT

    •  i am old enough to remember (6+ / 0-)

      two mail deliveries per day

      pretty soon folks will be saying "ah yes, I remember Saturday mail delivery"

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 07:59:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  London Financial District (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, Ojibwa, Brecht, G2geek

      "The General Post Office (GPO) in the UK at one point ran five deliveries per day."

      I did not know that.  An important fact about the postal service business is location.   Rural delivery is a lot more expensive because people are further apart; mail routes between two big cities more likely profitable.

      Whether the cities should subsidize rural delivery has been debated in Congress several times of which I am aware.

      This is why the Cato institute, American Heritage Institute, Fed Ex  argue to privatize the Postal Service.  And then come in and say they only want to privatize SOME of the mail routes.  

       I had heard (in a trial I won a sort of big case about  letters of credit) that within London's financial district, the English postal service offered mail delivery, three times per day.  The witness said that this service was so efficient that no one used couriers.  point is this was within a limited space; and the time period would be in the 1980's i believe.

      Today, with email and people trying to go paperless, mail volume has to be way, way down.    

      As far as twice a day delivery?  I guess others lived in places less rural than me.   Here in LA, one day delivery is the norm.  I think occasionally we had twice a day delivery in Century City.  

      Nowadays, I'm happy for once a day service.  My office is in downtown  Santa Monica and we are not getting every day delivery


      “Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.” ― Will Rogers (Of course this also applies to me.)

      by MugWumpBlues on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 08:25:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  cherry-pick the profitable routes to give to.... (0+ / 0-)

        ... their cronies, and leave the unprofitable routes to USPS.

        Then say USPS is going broke again or is a drain on the treasury, and cut back rural delivery or charge the recipients to receive mail.  

        That's the strategy alright.

        Know what?  The constituents who are about to get screwed by this crap need to deluge their Representatives with postal mail.  Sacks and sacks of postal mail.  Truckloads of it.  

        Now that Congress has gotten used to email, let's remind them of the good old days.  

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 03:44:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yup. Their EXACT argument (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          "cherry-pick the profitable routes to give to.... (0+ / 0-)
          ... their cronies, and leave the unprofitable routes to USPS."

          See page 8, Mail @ the Millenium:  Will the Postal Service Go  Private 2000 CATO Institute

          And I bet y'all thought I was joking about the Koch, Fed Ex and rural choices in my poll.  

          “Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.” ― Will Rogers (Of course this also applies to me.)

          by MugWumpBlues on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 06:59:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  and postal mail is private. (6+ / 0-)

    Gov can't read your postal mail without a warrant.

    Google and Facebook can't read it at all.

    Progressives should start writing letters & using postal mail more often, as a sign of patriotism and also for the sake of practical privacy.

    "A letter a day keeps the GOP away."  Pass it on.

    We got the future back. Uh-oh.

    by G2geek on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 07:17:51 AM PDT

  •  Airmail (7+ / 0-)

    We are thinking along the same lines this morning. I just posted:

    History 101: American Airmail


  •  The USPS is probably the cheapest and certainly (5+ / 0-)

    the most efficient postal service in the world. Of all government agencies, I find it appalling that anti-government politicians are doing everything they can to make something that works well fail.


    by commonmass on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 09:28:01 AM PDT

    •  Yup (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, commonmass

      $.50 to have a letter hand delivered to a specific address is a great deal.  Yet, bashing the USPS and trying to privatize it has been a RW talking point for years.

      The Cato Institute  has what I think is a full time employee arguing for it; American Heritage; American Heartland--all Koch funded to greater or lesser degree--make it one of their lead arguments.  A well financed effort has been trying to steal the USPS business since Milton Friedman's day.  

      “Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.” ― Will Rogers (Of course this also applies to me.)

      by MugWumpBlues on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 10:38:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  that's why! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The fact that it works so well is exactly why they want to destroy it.

      Thereby adding to their anti-gov rhetoric.

      These bastards are anarchists.  Not the good kind of anarchists, the bad kind.  Wreckers, looters, and vandals.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 03:45:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So if we define the internet as a postal service (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and the cables it runs on as 'postal roads' then there would be a government duty to provide broadband internet service, for an appropriate fee, to everyone in the USA

    slow service (enough for email, text messages and wikipedia without the pictures) for free
    'voice grade' service (enough for telephone calls and web pages with pictures) for a low fee.
    'video grade' service (enough for video streaming, videophone, facebook games) for a higher fee
    'broadband' service (enough for fast download of HD movies and for interactive immersive online games) for the highest fee.

    •  Yes. I was going to write a diary about that (0+ / 0-)

      Makes sense that the USPS should handle  some internet related duties.

      Need a dedicated AI working to the Postmaster.

      “Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.” ― Will Rogers (Of course this also applies to me.)

      by MugWumpBlues on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 07:30:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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