Thursday, December 29, 2011

US Post Office: Threat or Menace?

You know how

  1. Andrew Sullivan sometimes says something real dumb and then 
  2. takes it back after weeks of having his mistakes pointed out to him and then
  3. he tries to defend himself by noting that the blog is a record of him "thinking in real time" and then
  4. you scream at your computer that you were thinking in real time also but, magically, you got to the right answer weeks ago and he's an old privilege-kisser who can't see past his benighted biases?
Well I have biases of my own, and one of my big ones is the US Post Office: I'm for it. The USPS is second only to the DMV in terms of getting shit on by stand-up comedians and sitcoms. You can picture the set-up from almost any TV show: lazy postal employees shooting the breeze while hard-working people on their lunch-break wait in line. When was the last time we had a heroic postal worker--outside of David Brin's The Postman? (And with defenders like that!)

Part of my bias is that, when people talk about the post office, to me, it sounds like conservatives talking about the evils of government. So that's one reason why I'm biased and it's a bad reason: I like the Post Office because the rhetoric against it is boilerplate "drown the government in a bathtub" nonsense.

But here's my secret: I've almost never had a bad experience with the post office. People I know have lots of classic stories--the unmoving lines, the surly help, the lost packages, the opened envelopes... Actually, now that I think of it, no one I know has an "opened envelope" story. And just today, we got packages that were supposedly lost by the mail--but it turns out that the sender had our address wrong. So that's another victory for the post office.

We have lots of data about how the post office reaches more people more of the time than FedEx or UPS or the other private carriers that conservatives get so hot about, but maybe we need some more happy anecdotes and heroic representations.

Or what's this bias for?

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