They're never going to get rid of the Postal Service because then who would deliver the scorpions?

The White House reportedly rejected a recent funding request from the US Postal Service, which predicted that it would soon run out of cash flow, thanks in part to coronavirus. Based on a quick glance at my Twitter feed, there are lots of people who are understandably concerned that this is all part of a larger GOP plot to destroy USPS, along with all other public institutions.

Considering that the Post Office would actually be a successful business if not for the GOP-sponsored Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, sometimes known as "one of the most insane laws Congress ever enacted," this is a valid concern. When people say that USPS is not a profitable business, it's specifically because of that law, which legally forbids them from making a profit, and also requires the Postal Service to fully refund its retirees' benefits 75 years in advance. No other company or organization — public or private — has ever done something that absurd. And it was clearly a deliberate move.

But here's the thing: they're never going to get rid of the Postal Service, not entirely. Because USPS is the only entity that will ship live scorpions. And that's an important public service. (Yes, they technically say that it has to be "for the purposes of medical research use or the manufacture of antivenin" but that's easy to get around.)

There's also the fact that FedEx and UPS rely on the US Postal Service for about a third of their services — particularly for "last mile" deliveries. Read the rest

Having your mail delivered by rocket is the most 1950s futurist thing ever

Before the Internet was a thing, the postal service was a big deal for folks flung far from one another. Back in the mid-20th century, a phone call from one coast to the other, no matter how brief, would see you paying through the nose. As such, the postal service reigned supreme when it came to staying in touch in an intimate, personal manner. There was just one problem: unless you paid for rushed delivery, using the postal service to send a letter or other document was, and still is, slow as hell.

Thank God for rocket-powered mail delivery! The future of mail!

Well, they thought it was, at the time. Read the rest