Friday, December 27, 2013

UPS, FedEx, your late Christmas gifts, and the Grinch who stole functional government

  Could the Grinch be modeled after a Republican Congressman?
Well, anyway,  in exchange for having swiped this picture, I
feel obligated to tell you can order this Grinch as computer
 wallpaper by going here.

UPS and FedEx have taken a justified drubbing in the press lately for failing to deliver Christmas packages in time for Christmas. Their excuse? Well, umm, there were more packages than they expected, and, err, they all came at the same time, and besides, the weather was bad. (Uh, UPS? That’s logistics.)

Both shipping companies deserve to have their ears boxed – not so much for their disgraceful delivery failures, as for false advertising.

For decades FedEx has told us to go to them “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

And UPS has cast itself as the “logistics” expert, first in a cloying jingle, now in a company slogan (“We love logistics”) both advertising lies delivering the implied promise of super competence.

But my beef with these two paragons of private enterprise is only secondary. I’m speaking up today for the United States Post Office, for the Constitution of the United States – and for the importance of the United States government being in and starting some businesses, rather then staying out of them.

A government post office
– and “original intent”

The founding fathers, from the very beginning, understood that some critical activities are too important to be left to private enterprise. Conducting war is one example. Can you imagine UPS and FedEx explaining to the American people, “Well of course the enemy has overrun and taken Florida. We had no idea there’d be so many of them, all coming at us at the same time. And besides, it was raining.”

Two others examples of businesses that the founding fathers intended the government to be in are the maintenance and operation of a post office, and the construction of roads. You can find the provision for both in Section 8, Article 7 of the United States Constitution.

True, the United States Postal Service is a mess today. But for that you can thank the Republican crazies in Congress who can’t read (or at least who can’t read the Constitution) and who think that the government being in the mail delivery business is an abomination in the eyes of God and a violation of the original intent of our founders to put private enterprise in charge of absolutely everything.

Who's sabotaging the post office?
Kindly glance to the right.

You can't help thinking it's likely that the destructive “libertarian” right is deliberately trying to cripple and destroy the post office, either in obeisance to their crackpot theories that private enterprise does everything better, or in exchange for the legalized corruption of corporate campaign contributions by commercial delivery services.

Congress has crippled the USPS with a requirement to pre-fund pensions in a way that saddles the postal authorities with multi-billion dollar obligations that no private enterprise or other government department faces. And, since Congress gives not a nickel – not a nickel! – to this constitutionally mandated department of government, postal rates contantly get driven explosively higher.

Little wonder that so many people have opted to use the virtually free Internet for everything from utility bills to Christmas cards.

Meanwhile, if you sent your Christmas mail via the post office a few days in advance, the odds are powerful that your gift and cards got there. In fact they got there the next day, if you sent them by Priority Mail. If your Priority Mail pakage didn't arrive on time, you can enjoy a money-back guarantee. Try that with a non-governmental service like UPS or FedEx.

But there’s this odd thing about the USPS. Without dabbling in the mysto-magic of logistics, in somehow understands that mail gets very heavy shortly before Christmas (What a surprise!), and that meanwhile the weather in December starts to get bad in many parts of the country (Another surprise!) and plans accordingly. And remember, the USPS is operating with its hands tied behind its back by Congress.

Government, private enterprise,
and the Obamacare screwups

But…but…but what about the screwups in Obamacare? Well, the President and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services certainly screwed up royally on communicating the facts about that one, and ought to have their fannies whacked for constantly “adjusting” dates and deadlines for political purposes, which add to the confusion. But let’s trace the malfunction back to its original source.

Who did the website work? Why, private enterprise, in the form of a for-profit company called GCI Federal and its various subcontractors. And it turns out that like other private enterprises, GCI Federal has a significant history of screwing up what they do.

Oh, and let’s not forget who built our (now underfunded and crumbling) highway system, and our triumphs in space. Those were government programs. Yes, private contractors built the components for the moon shot. But they did so under NASA supervision and NASA, should you need reminding, is a government enterprise, not a private company.

The Congressional grinches may want to turn over the nation to private enterprise. God help us if they ever completely succeed. They do enough damage each day as it is.

As I’ve already said in this piece, most things are too important to be left to private entrepreneurs out to make a buck. Or a few billion buck. And those range from healthcare to playing Santa Claus with Christmas packages.

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