Tracking Hurricane Sandy — The United States Postal Service rules and FedEx is a bloodsucking vampire

Hurricane SandyIt’s Monday and it’s raining hard. Hurricane Sandy, a category 1 hurricane, has arrived to my area of the world, suburban Maryland, 15 miles from the white house. But, guess what….

The world has not come to an end. There are not 50 million casualties as the result of Hurricane Sandy, essential services have not broken down, bodies are not floating by in a river of water on the streets, there is no toilet paper shortage, and gun-toting survivalists are not roaming the streets like flying execution squads in Berlin in April of 1945.

Yes, we are getting lots of rain, fairly strong sustained winds, and occasional gusts of winds ripping down the streets, but this is totally out of proportion to the “storm tracking” hysteria that has been whipped up by our local media outlets over the last week.

The money shot

After a week of sustained application of scare-tactics, however, the media is finally getting their money shot, the usual journalist-being-battered-by-the-wind-on-the-shore shot. Drama is in the air! I ask myself, of course, whether the media crews really would be “out there” if they were in any real danger? I think not. So nice try, Fox, but you are not scaring us any more.

Ironically, the unprompted shutting down actions on behalf of local, state, and Federal government and local transportation, including the crucial Metro system in Washington, D.C. is causing more disruption than is the actual storm. Go figure.

The real story in all of this is that, after everyone has run away from doing their jobs, there are two government bodies that still function undaunted by the weather conditions: The United States Postal Service and the National Hurricane Center, a branch of the National Weather Service.

In fact, I just saw the mailman trod by, delivering mail. And let me tell you… It is positively heart-warming to see the mailman out there, doing his job while the rest of the Federal government has more or less called it quits.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds

I have written about the postal service and the National Weather Service in a recent posting, which was prompted by the idiotic call for disbandment or privatization of these services.

In my posting I argued that the National Weather Service is essential to the economy and national security and incredibly cost-effective. The same is true for the postal service, and, perhaps more importantly, the functioning of an impartial and comprehensive postal service is one of the cornerstones of democracy.

Let’s talk mail

Mail Call

Mail Call

While on the subject of closing or privatization, do you know that there is a high probability that the small FedEx package that you find on your door-step was delivered by the United States Postal Service, not by FedEx. You see, as reported by Alan Robinson on his Courier, Express, and Postal Observer blog, FedEx cannot cost-effectively deliver to all United States households, so they outsource the job to the postal service, which performs the actual delivery for around $2 per package.

On a side-note, as pointed out by Mr. Robinson, it is this arrangement that has enabled FedEx to compete effectively with UPS. Astonishing, but true. And certainly should make you wonder what would happen to the less sub $1 postal rates that we enjoy in the United States if the lunatics fringe gets it way and closes down the postal service.

The absolutely amazing thing about this, of course, is that the general public and United States based businesses do not just cut out the middle-man and use the United States Postal Service, immediately swinging the postal service into profitability.

Now that you know this about the relationship between the United States Postal Service and FedEx, you are ready to consider this… FedEx is one of the primary attackers on the United States Postal Service, lobbying relentless for the exploitation and plundering of the postal service — with the clear goal of, ultimately, putting the postal service out of business entirely. Here are some highlights of this incredible quest by FedEx.

Let’s get a sense of the lobbying first (you can see the raw data at The Center for Responsive Politics):

  • FedEx has been a major campaign contributor to both Democrats and Republicans over the last 20 years and is a major lobbyist making extensive use of corporate-jet-flights-for-votes lobbying, and its employees are represented on several advisory committees of the government.
  • FedEx spent about $20 million on lobbying between 1998 and 2008, and, then, from 2009 through 2012, in an aggressive attack on the postal service, spent more than $65 million greasing the wheels of politics.
  • From 2008 through 2010, FedEx spent more than $50 million on lobbying, while paying less than $40 million in taxes.

Lobbying, of course pays for itself if you factor in the business that you get from lobbying, and, over only one decade, FedEx has been awarded $11.8 billion in defense, transportation, and logistics contracts, courtesy of the United States’ tax payers.

The emphasis of the lobbying has been on (1) ensuring that the postal service appear unprofitable through legislative change, (2) shifting the highly profitable business from the postal service to FedEx, (3) collecting as much money as possible from the postal service:

  • A decade of legislative changes have laid the foundation for piecemeal privatization of the postal service — most notably the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, requiring the postal service to prefund the health care benefits of future retirees — a burden not shared by government agencies or private enterprises, causing the postal service to swing to significant loss, including a $8.5 billion loss in 2010, and a $5.1 billion loss in 2011.
  • The postal service is required to use outsourced services for transportation, technology, and support, in spite of the fact that audits released by the United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General has revealed that it would be more cost-effective for the postal service to perform these services itself. FedEx is the leading provider of such service to the postal service, collecting, for instance, $1.3 billion in year 2010.

Let’s finish this off by quoting the United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, who, in a 2010 report, concluded that:

“… [b]y using ground transportation, the Postal Service could lower overall FedEx lift requirements and save about $138.3 million over 10 years.”

Take a close look at that number, $138.3 million in savings over 10 year. That is a lot to save at the expense of FedEx — a reversal of how FedEx has profited for years by making the United States Postal Service unprofitable.

Consider this next time, some lunatic privatize-or-close politician asks for your vote or you hear FedEx attacking the United States Postal Service in a congressional hearing.

What do you think? Do you applaud the postman and the folks at the National Weather Service, or do you think that we just ought to close the postal service and the National Weather Service and let FedEx, UPS, and the Weather Channel do their thing? What do you think about the fact that a company that is recipient of billions of dollars worth of contracts from a country spends millions lobbying the same country’s politicians and flies them around the globe on so-called fact-finding missions? Do you believe that there is no relationship between FedEx increased lobby expenses and the increasingly bad rap given to the United States Postal Service by the Unitede States Congress and the House of Representatives?

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2 Comments on “Tracking Hurricane Sandy — The United States Postal Service rules and FedEx is a bloodsucking vampire”

  1. […] the window,) something that I found to be remarkable and impressive and that prompted me to finish a posting that I have had in the works for a long time, discussing FedEx’s parasitic relationship with the United States Postal […]

  2. […] unintentionally caused an increase in page views in excess of 200% on this blog on October 29th by publishing a blog posting talking about Hurricane Sandy, the United States Postal Service, and FedEx, prompted mostly by […]