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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?

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picture from a stamp, which is why I'm using it

we went to five-day delivery service in the early 1970s here in the Great White North, and so far western civilisation has not ground to a halt.

No new housing development gets letter carrier delivery any more. If it's infill housing, a new house (or apartment) in a developed area, yes, letter carrier; but new subdivisions on what was recently a farmer's field, they have "supermailboxes" every block or so ... kinda sorta like the mailbox lobby in an apartment lobby, except you have to go down the block to get the post.

but I remember eleven deliveries a week - morning and afternoon M-F and saturday morning. that was in the UK in my youth.

Re: picture from a stamp, which is why I'm using it

so far western civilisation has not ground to a halt.

It hasn't?

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