OT The Post Office should cut mail days in half and the price of stamps

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On 12/09/10 11:01 am, HeyBub wrote:

So perhaps the PD is understaffed.

Yes, and I have read that the Byzantine Empire, *realizing that Christians could not be asked to fight*, used mercenaries.

A nearby city has ten private trash pickup services competing with each other, so many streets (maybe not all, because certain streets may have no customers of a particular service) have ten different trucks driving along, chewing up the roads, and each bypassing several homes. How can that be efficient and economical? But when the city council proposed letting a contract to a single service, people screamed about having their freedom of choice taken away; the proposal has now been dropped.
There is another model for the relationship between government and private enterprise. For decades both the Commonwealth (national/federal) and many state governments in Australia (no matter whether they were conservative or "liberal" -- as Americans use the term) had enterprises in competition with private enterprise"; e.g., The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, The Savings Bank of South Australia (and similar in some other states), various State Government Insurance Offices. None of these, AFAIK, operated like a traditional government department: I think they were run by boards of directors/governors. I understand that some of those enterprises were privatized on philosophical grounds, but at least in one case people, especially in rural areas, have been disadvantaged: every Post Office (which in a small community might be just a few feet of counter space in the General Store, or wherever) was an agency for the Commonwealth Savings Bank, so almost everyone had reasonably easy access to banking facilities. Since privatization, any individual bank office that did not show a profit was closed, leaving many people without convenient banking facilities.

One of the problems with the US regulatory bodies is that there is a revolving door between those bodies and the industries they are supposed to be regulating. In the traditional British-style Civil Service nobody gets into a high-ranking position from "outside": seniority plays a big part.
Perce
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Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

We have an identical system in the U.S. It's called the educational establishment.
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On 12/09/10 02:41 pm, HeyBub wrote:

I get the impression that you think that is bad. Tenure has been discussed many times in our papers the over the past few weeks, and the position that makes most sense to me is that tenure was never intended to protect incompetence, but administrators often can't be bothered to do what is necessary to get rid of incompetent teachers or to help them to improve.
Anyway, I did not say that promotion in a British-style Civil Service is *entirely* on the basis of seniority: I said it plays a big part.
Another thing just occurs to me: if you have a regulatory body that is greatly staffed by people from the industry they are supposed to be regulating, isn't it possible that they will introduce regulations that their buddies can live with but will drive their competitors out of business?
Perce
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On 12/9/2010 3:59 PM, Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

Unions can certainly be a good thing but they can also protect incompetent workers. Often administrators have there hands tied. There was an investigative TV program on a few years ago which focused on the NYC school system. The process flow chart for firing a teacher is 5 feet long. It is so difficult that they maintain a school without students in Brooklyn and simply assign the "teachers" there at full pay and benefits.

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Tenure originated as a system of job security in universities, not elementary and high schools where it didn't fulfill it's role of protecting the professor researching something not conforming to the accepted wisdom (Wikipedia talks about other than "string theory" in physics) or speaking out on controversial subjects. School teachers don't do research and should be doing what they're told as far as controversy is concerned so they and we don't need it. Tenure reminds me of health care benefits for auto workers: easy to promise but very costly to deliver.
As to incompetent teachers, they can't improve; either they're stupid or they have the wrong personality to teach kids but they can't leave because they can't get the same pay in any other job. Naturally "there but for the grace of god go I" applies to the people in charge hence lifetime employment for the hopeless. This BTW is true in any bureaucracy or corpocracy although it may not be quite as blatant and at a low level is perhaps not quite as bad as it seems. Putting people into a position of constant stress, leaping tall buildings with a single bound every day and every minute, results in burnout, lack of loyalty, and lack of innovation--they just get a CYA mentality.
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On 12/9/2010 9:35 PM, snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.gov wrote:

No argument that tenure is often abused, but teachers do need some protection even at k-12 level. All it takes is some rich kid's parent whining to school board that their little darling is being picked on, or some vindictive kid making fake charges of sexual abuse, and small-town school boards would be quick to throw the teacher under the bus. It hasn't been that many decades since they routinely had 'morals' clauses in employment contracts, and female teachers were presumed to have resigned if they got married, lest they leave in the middle of the term due to pregnancy. IOW, they were considered little more than glorified nannies.
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aem sends....

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otherwise, under the bus at the first suggestion of sexual abuse. The risks, both legal and trying to convince the local media (maybe ESPECIALLY the local media) is just too great to do otherwise.
It

Tenure have any more protection than the employment contracts.
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koala bears: food, water, shelter and something to crap on."
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You're at it again. There are a substantial number of "lifers" I know that said the Iraq war got out of hand because of ill-trained contractors, specifically the idjits that got themselves hanged from a bridge in Fallujah
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3585765.stm
because they didn't know where they were going, what they were doing and were traveling in too small a convoy without properly armed escorts. That incident, along with many shenanigans from the Blackwater folks, forced us to treat the civil population as enemies and the "build a Mulsim democracy" endeavor deteriorated quickly after that. The hacks that some of these outfits hire are not all ex-Special forces as some may think but the cheapest bodies they could get to fulfill the contract requirements. The results, sadly, speak for themselves.

Oh yeah, I really want to be policed by "lowest bid" rent-a-cops with little or no training in the use of deadly force who were flipping burgers a week before they pinned on the badge. No thanks. Weren't you once a sheriff, a paid government police agent? Wasn't it you, the Yaminator, who was just recently telling us how crappy rent-a-cops are? Now you're singing a different tune, it seems, to fit a pointless point that "anarchy is good for us."

Anyone who's ever run an all-volunteer organization will tell you it's like herding cats. If you can't control their paychecks, you can't control them. It's that simple. It's important to note those paid 15% work in most large cities where the risk that one fire will burn down many houses. Experience has taught those city officials that they need to always have paid firefighting staff around that's well-trained and well-equipped because the risk is so much greater than in rural areas.

The Brits hired the Hessians to help fight the Revolutionary War.
http://www.suite101.com/content/the-hessians-are-coming-a217237
Guess who won? Look at the mess Blackwater made in Iraq. They were outside the chain of command and they acted like uncontrollable cowboys, making incredible amounts of trouble and ill-will. Look at the Romans: The mercenaries they hired to fight for them eventually overran them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decline_of_the_Roman_Empire
"The historian Arther Ferrill has suggested that the Roman Empire - particularly the military - declined largely as a result of an influx of Germanic mercenaries into the ranks of the legions. This "Germanization" and the resultant cultural dilution or "barbarization" led not only to a decline in the standard of drill and overall military preparedness within the Empire, but also to a decline of loyalty to the Roman government in favor of loyalty to commanders."
Mercs didn't work for the English or the Romans, and it doesn't look like they are working so well for us, either. But historical facts don't seem to deter you from arguing the point as if it had an iota of merit.

In my area, the government did exactly the same thing (cans/automated trucks) and it all works quite nicely. In some states, privatized trash collection is a mainstay of organized crime and a source of a serious amounts of illegal dumping. Why pay the waste station transfer fees if you can dump the stuff somewhere for free? Privitization invites as many problems as it pretends to solve.
"In the New York area alone, members of the five major mob families have been convicted or are facing trials not just for labor racketeering and extortion but also for criminal infiltration of such businesses as restaurants, food distribution, entertainment, waterfront cargo handling, vending machines, liquor, securities, garbage and toxic-waste disposal, and the trucking, jewelry, garment, construction and real-estate industries." - Ronald Reagan
http://www.thelaborers.net/lexisnexis/articles/declaring_war_on_organized_crime.htm
> On a more national level, virtually all building codes mandate UL-certified

Do you run a fruit store on the side? I ask because you're always mixing apples, oranges and kumquats in the same bowl. The FDA system isn't perfect because Republicans are always seeking to defang it in order to protect the big agribusiness owners in their home states. Contrary to popular belief, most inspections are NOT done by the Feds, but by private companies. The same companies that gave us poisoned peanut butter, salmonella laced-eggs, E-coli infested hamburgers and more. The FDA was given greater power than the 1906 Food and Drug Act provided because the private business that you believe can handle everything as well as the government poisoned over 100 people in the 1937 Elixir Sulfanilamide tragedy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_and_Drug_Administration
"By the 1930s, muckraking journalists, consumer protection organizations, and federal regulators began mounting a campaign for stronger regulatory authority by publicizing a list of injurious products which had been ruled permissible under the 1906 law, including radioactive beverages, cosmetics which caused blindness, and worthless "cures" for diabetes and tuberculosis. The resulting proposed law was unable to get through the Congress of the United States for five years, but was rapidly enacted into law following the public outcry over the 1937 Elixir Sulfanilamide tragedy, in which over 100 people died after using a drug formulated with a toxic, untested solvent. The only way that the FDA could even seize the product was due to a misbranding problem: an "Elixir" was defined as a medication dissolved in ethanol, not the diethylene glycol used in the Elixir Sulfanilamide."
There's great support for enlarging the power of the FDA in the wake of the recent wide-scale food poisonings but Republican opposition will likely last until Big Business kills another 100 people. As you can see, it's the failure of business to regulate itself that INVITES government oversight.
Businesses have proven time and time again (most recently BP in the Gulf) that they can NOT and WILL NOT regulate themselves. It's why we license doctors, lawyers and other professionals - to assure the public that they are capable of performing their complex tasks and to punish them if they fail.
Anyone who wants to imagine what an entirely "privatized" world would look like needs only study the early history of Chicago, a town built with virtually no government "interference." Chicago eventually burned to the ground because of a lack of planning, a lack of building codes that allowed too many wooden buildings and sidewalks placed too close together and a lack of appropriate fire-fighting equipment. And no, it was not a cow that started it. That was the cover story put out to conceal the true underlying causes and it's been thoroughly debunked.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Chicago_Fire
Government regulations and the means to enforce them have arisen *precisely* because businesses have repeatedly proven that they can NOT regulate themselves. Just look at what happened after the Triangle Shirt Waist Fire:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_Shirtwaist_Factory_fire
"The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, New York, United States on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York, and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, most of them women, who either died from the fire or jumped from the fatal height . . .
Working with local Tammany Hall officials such as Al Smith and Robert F. Wagner, and progressive reformers such as Frances Perkins, the future Secretary of Labor in the Roosevelt administration, who had witnessed the fire from the street below, pushed for comprehensive safety and workers' compensation laws. The ILGWU leadership formed bonds with those reformers and politicians that would continue for another forty years, through the New Deal and beyond. As a result of the fire, the American Society of Safety Engineers was founded soon after in New York City, October 14, 1911."
Repeated failures of business to behave have brought on precisely the government you appear to so deeply detest. Remove government and we'll just have more of what we had before - callous disregard for anything except profits. It's clear that profits, not human lives, were what the owners of the shirtwaist factory were considering when they locked the only fire exits. As Chris Rock once noted, if it were not for the minimum wage law, employers would try to pay people in used Popsicle sticks.
You may hate the government (which, as far as I can tell, paid you a salary for at least a part of your working life) but I'm glad that it's protecting workers from big business, who would treat them as a lump of coal to be consumed and discarded without regulations to the contrary.
-- Bobby G.
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Robert Green wrote:

Well, I, uh, don't think it's quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up...

Heh! As a matter of fact, I was an unpaid deputy sheriff, a volunteer. Same training, same authority, just not on the payroll. The largest such organization is the one in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Reserve.

Virtually ALL of our diplomats, NGO workers, and U.S. installations were protected by Blackwater. They did an exemplary job.

In the "some states" you mention, organized crime was there LONG before municipal - or private - trash collection came about. You're confusing cause and effect.

From Wikipedia:
"Though the fire was one of the largest U.S. disasters of the 19th century, the rebuilding that began almost immediately spurred Chicago's development into one of the most populous and economically important American cities."

For many people making a minimum wage, used Popsickle sticks would be, in a fair and equitable world, a bonus.

Businesses need three things: labor, capital, and raw materials. There is no good reason to treat any of these items with more respect than it deserves.
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On 12/11/10 04:44 pm, HeyBub wrote:

Who determines what is "deserved"? I happen to think that anyone deserves a wage sufficient to live on (food, shelter, transportation to and from work [at least], health needs) at least for him/herself, if not for a spouse and one or two children as well in exchange for 40 or so hours of work a week.
Perce
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wrote

yeah, and close the mailbox lid cuz with all the rain/snow, my mail is a mess. After the other guy retired we now have lazy delivery people.
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On 12/8/2010 12:35 AM, RobertPatrick wrote:

Its an efficiency thing. We have a large mailbox. The carriers roll up the mail and push it in and leave the lid open. Multiple carriers claim thats what they are specifically required to do.
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They don't weigh prepaid return envelopes. All they do is count them.
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On 12/8/2010 7:43 AM, jamesgangnc wrote:

If they don't fit through a skinny little slot, the rate is much higher.
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Metspitzer wrote:

They still deliver packages.
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LSMFT

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having been a temp mailman I can tell you it would not work. There is no way I could have delivered two days worth of mail in one day. I couldnt even get it all on the truck at once. I do think that those who want home delivery should pay a premium for it. Two apartment complexes both about the same size. One had all the mail boxes at the office the other had the mailboxes at each apartment. One took about 20 minutes to deliver the mail to the other about two hours. I havent delivered a letter in 40 years but I still think those that make it more difficult should have to pay more for the service.
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JIMMIE wrote:

Heh!
We used to have a personable mailman; often stopped to chat. I asked him about that and he said he didn't walk the route as it was laid out by the postal service and local postmaster. He walked it the way HE wanted to walk it. As a consequence, he finished his route, usually, by 1:00 p.m. Then had lunch. Then read his text books until time to go back to the barn.
"What are you studying?" I asked.
"Oh, I'm going to law school at night. I hope to be a lawyer for the U.S. Postal Service so I'll never have to work again."
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