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A modest proposal.

modest

Modest proposals are "tongue in cheek" suggestions for improving the world.

US Post Office performance is awful (in Chicago anyway)

In Chicago, which supposedly has the worst mail delivery in the country, service is deteriorating. In our medical practice, we mail statements to patients. We routinely get 10% of them back, with a stamp "wrong address". When we call the patients and ask them for the correct address, we are informed that the address was correct in the first place. So, a 10% error rate. This is ridiculous.

The post-office needs to be reinvented.

Well, how to fix it ?

Why not just get rid of the letter/circular part of the post office, by making it entirely electronic, and outsource the package delivery function. In other words, do what netflix did to the DVD rental industry. Make it all electronic.

This would leave very little remaining for the post-office to do.

There would be no more stamps, no postage machines, and no mail delivery infrastructure.

  1. Have the government assign a file sharing portal to every person in the country. Perhaps hire Google or Amazon to design it, as they have considerable expertise in this. It should have the following characteristics:
    1. Highly secure -- use the same kind of security that the NSA uses for telephone database records. (Notice I didn't say the same kind of security that banks or credit card firms use).
    2. An interface similar to gmail/google docs -- allow people to view their mail (PDF's), download it, delete it, forward it.
    3. Provide hard-copy of "mail" through a mail printer kiosk located in highly accessible locations (such as drug stores).
    4. Franchise the ability for 3rd parties to outsource the hard copies, if mail recipients opt for this, at an additional charge.
    5. Charge a reasonable fee to keep documents longer than 1 year.
  2. Allow bulk-mailers to send colorful PDF's to this portal at very low cost. Allow them to send their usual bulk mail as a package (i.e. at a relatively high cost).
  3. Allow individuals to send letters as "attachments" to this portal, through ordinary email, to the portal.
  4. Put scanners in service centers (not necessarily post offices) to convert "snail mail" letters into PDFs. This is to handle the hand-written letters and such.

Wit this plan, the post office could sell off its real-estate to pay its bills and pensions, and gracefully shut down, leaving behind service centers.

A great place for the scanners might be next to the Redbox's in Walgreens -- in downtown Chicago, we have a Walgreens on every street corner. Usually next to a Chase bank branch. (:

© Copyright June 13, 2015 , Timothy C. Hain, M.D. All rights reserved.
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