The current recession has forced many economists to reevaluate their theories. Amid this confusion, a relatively unknown philosopher has appeared and revolutionized the way we think about the capitalist system:
What company posts multi-billion dollar losses annually, foists increasingly unwanted products and services on consumers, staggers under enormous fixed costs and powerful union constraints, and is depending on taxpayer money to bail them out? No, I’m not talking about GM, but rather, the good old US Postal Service.
The USPS has never been known for its efficiency, but the advent of email and other digital transmission services have hastened the collapse of the USPS business model. Georg Jensen’s “Going Postal” gives a detailed history of the postal service and the politics stymieing change, and suggests a framework for overhauling the postal service to meet the needs of the age of digitization. I found his description of the (profitable) Swiss postal service to be most interesting:
Swiss Post Box is powered by technology from Seattle-based Earth Class Mail. The service emails multi-sided color images of incoming envelopes and parcels to their recipients as soon as the mail reaches the first sorting center nearest where it was collected by the post office. While the mail and parcels are held in an automated temporary cache, recipients decide which mail pieces they want to have opened and scanned to PDF inside an ultra-secure scanning center at the Post Office (where confidential documents for Swiss banks are also scanned), and which are to be delivered physically to the address on the envelope, redirected to another address, shredded, recycled or archived for safekeeping. Three-quarters of the mail ends up leaving that first sorting center bound straight for recycling, either after being scanned to PDF or discarded unopened by customer’s choice. The energy savings implications are obvious.
In the annals of “how do I get that job”:
“They are young girls, we can see from the photos. We think that perhaps they are not well informed about the rules,” said Mr Hardyson, head of the tax authority’s national project on internet trade.