Here comes the future, you can’t run from it

Published 2013-02-12

So the USPS plans to cease (most) delivery on Saturdays.

Not hard to predict the impact on our family.

At our (literate, college-educated, closer-to-retirement-than-high-school) household, friends and relations have to learned to notify us by email that they’ve sent us something via USPS. Otherwise we might not see it for a week or two.

The postman twice started holding our mail for us at the Post Office. Presumably on the assumption we had left on vacation without stopping mail. He doesn’t do this any more, but he thoughtfully puts packages at our door now. Our mailbox is in a “secure cluster” about half a block away; nine days out of ten there’s nothing in that box worth a half-block hike.

I believe in the purpose of the USPS. The Constitution empowers Congress to “establish Post Offices and post Roads,” and not for no reason. The founders knew the importance of the Information Economy some two hundred years before anyone used those words next to each other. I personally prefer the USPS to private carriers for most of my shipping-type purposes. America needs the Post Office. It needs the Post Office to be universal and cheap.

But in 2013, “the Post Office” ought to include “gigabit Internet landlines” and “4G carrier-neutral GSM mobile telephony.” Anyone who’s experienced the communications infrastructure in [random moderately-developed foreign country] knows what I’m talking about. That Americans pay so much, for such lousy communications infrastructure, in the year 2013, is a far bigger travesty than waiting until Monday to get packages from Grandma.

p.s. if you’re looking for someone to blame, how about Congress?

p.p.s. Cruddy connectivity is just one of the many baffling ways in which America lags the rest of the world. I don’t find the lag baffling — hey, it’s a big diverse country with a janky political system. No, it’s the collective blindness Americans have about said lag. We have unequivocally the world’s worst-and-yet-most-expensive phone system (or health care, or transportation infrastructure…). These things are very much Solved Problems; geez Latvia and Thailand are solving them better than we are. But dare to raise this point on home shores and you’ll be shouted down with chest thumping about living in the best country in all of human history. We keep taking kicks to the groin and mistaking them for hugs.