JWG (jwg) wrote,

This is the 21st century, isn't it?

Today I went to an Installation of the local Cambridge Postmaster. I'm a member of the local postal customer advisory group which is why I was invited - we meet with Postmaster every month. There were speeches by the Mayor, the Boston Postmaster (who was the previous Cambridge P M), the several PMs-ago PM, a local figure: Sheldon Cohen who started the Out-of-Town News Stand in Harvard Square in 1955, and the new PM, - Kathy Lydon. The speeches were somewhat personal and OK - but still the event took about 1 1/2 hours. Someone sung the Star Spangled Banner, the PO Color Guard brought flags in, there was a Pledge of Allegiance, some 3rd graders sung several songs for the opening and closing, and there was a formal oath of office. BTW she has been in the job for a bit more than a year without being installed!

This event seems to be a relic from the early 20th century when it was important who the Postmaster was and also when the USPS was a completely government / political institution - now it is a hybrid. Why such pageantry for a promotion? And in an organization that although it prides itself on good customer service is in a huge decline of volume and loses money with these trends accelerating. The USPS is still very restricted in what it can do and how it prices its services - unlike its competitors such as FedEx and UPS, and has a strong protective employees union that makes job assignment flexibility very difficult so there is little opportunity for them to change or adapt their business to a new model. There is debate these days on going to 5 days service - I'll bet that in 20 years it'll be down to 1 or 2 days a week. Who needs all that mail to come so rapidly as people convert to other means of communication, receiving bills and making payments?
Tags: local politics, merriman

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