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Comment: Or not teach them maths at all (Score 3, Interesting) 231

by GKThursday (#46401499) Attached to: Teaching Calculus To 5-Year-Olds
I recalled an /. article from 4 years ago with a completely different view of maths for children.
Here it is
Basically, during the depression Boston needed to make cuts to the public schools, so they cut maths from all of the schools in the poor neighborhoods until 6th grade. By 7th grade all of the students who only had 1 year of maths were at the level of the students who had 6 years.

It makes some sense to me, math is really just logic, and a child's brain is not wired for logic. Though, part of me also thinks that "math is a young man's game" and you need a way to identify the geniuses before it's too late.

Comment: Re:Not smart Enough? (Score 1) 1276

Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of their birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.

~G.K. Chesterton

Maybe we should let the dying leave a list of who they want to vote for for the next 10 years. Mine would be easy, whoever is not the incumbent.

Comment: Re:Tax Principle #1: Minimized Disruptive Impact (Score 2) 623

by GKThursday (#36622230) Attached to: Amazon Drops California Associates to Avoid Sales Tax
There is "tax on postage" in Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma and West Virginia.
Fortunately, it isn't in Massachusetts, or my Direct mail business would be in trouble. Do you use me for direct mail, and owe an extra 6.25% on the $200,000.00 in postage, or do you use a mail house in Connecticut, and only spend the $200,000.00?

Comment: Re:So what if it's losing money? (Score 1) 398

by GKThursday (#36049844) Attached to: Tech Experts Look To Help Save the Postal Service
I'll keep that in mind. I didn't mean the triple zero for cents in one, that was a typo.

I usually put the dollar amounts in long form because the last several years of U.S. budgets have desensitized most of us to "billions" and sometimes even "trillions." A billion dollars is a lot of money, and maybe if some people would remember that, we wouldn't have a budget deficit of $1,600,000,000,000.00.

Comment: Re:So what if it's losing money? (Score 5, Informative) 398

by GKThursday (#36049420) Attached to: Tech Experts Look To Help Save the Postal Service
It is former Postal Employees, however it is a very muddy situation. The United State Postal Service used to be the United State Post Office Dept. At that point the Postmaster General was a cabinet position. During the 90s and ending in 2001, Congress passed postal "reform," which made the United States Postal Service, a private company with a government monopoly on letter mail. The USPS is governed by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), who interpret the postal reform passed by congress.

I posted all that as background for this next part.
Because of all these changes, some employees are under different pensions and healthcare systems than others. The first pension system is over funded (by govt. mandate) by around $70,000,000.00. This money was put into the general govt. retiree pension fund, which was spent by congress years ago. Newer USPS employees are part of a different pension/healthcare fund. Congress mandated that this fund be fully funded before 2020. That meant the USPS had to set aside about $5,500,000.00 a year for a decade to fund retirees that won't retire until 2040. Because the money goes to congress, the budget deficit seems smaller every year the USPS pays. So the USPS has 2 pension funds (more than that really, but this is the simple explanation). One is massively over funded, but stolen by congress. The other has an unsustainable funding schedule to make congress's budget deficit seem smaller.

Comment: Re:So what if it's losing money? (Score 5, Informative) 398

by GKThursday (#36047494) Attached to: Tech Experts Look To Help Save the Postal Service
The USPS is actually in the very unenviable position of being required to lose money to subsidize the rest of the Federal Govt. Several examples:

Congress sets the amount of money that the USPS has to pay into its pension and healthcare funds. This money is "held is trust" by congress (i.e. was spent 5 years before it came in.). The USPS has been forced to over pay for pension and retiree healthcare costs by over $80,000,000,000.00. Most of the $7,000,000,000.00 loss this year comes from an $5,000,000,000.000 payment into the retiree health benefits fund. In fact the USPS would have been profitable in the last 8 out of 10 years if it wasn't forced to subsidize congress's spending binges.

Congress requires the USPS to give rates to Non-profits that are below cost. Theoretically, congress is supposed to pay the difference, but hasn't for 17 years.

Periodicals (Time, WSJ, People ect) get preferential rates because of the lobbying power of the press. If I mail a 2.1 oz flat at presort standard rates (after putting the data through the national change of address database, something not required of periodicals) the lowest rate I could possible get is $0.194 per piece. I only get that rate if I bring it to the Sectional Center Facility where the mail will be sorted, and I presort it to the sequence the carrier walks in, and have pieces going to 90% of the residents on the route. That same piece going periodical rate only pays $0.16 for faster service.

I'm not denying that the USPS has problems of its own making it needs to deal with. It caved to the unions far to much in the past, giving it a very expensive workforce that thinks it constantly battling the evil management.

All of this comes from many years in the mail service provider industry. I'm not Aunt Edna that mails 3 birthday cards a year, and thinks that entitles her to complain that the Post Office in town is closing, even though it is within 2 miles of other Post Offices. I do multi-million dollar postage amounts every year. I am on first name basis with several USPS VPs.

Comment: Re:Looming disaster (Score 1) 299

by GKThursday (#33018728) Attached to: Adapting the Post Office To the Digital Age
Um $50.00?
Access to Full Service NCoA (National Change of Address) for developers is $175,000.00 per year.

CASS/DPV (the delivery standardization specs) is $10,000.00 a year.

USPS does lobby congress, as does the mailing industry as a whole. I'm not saying that Fedex/UPS has no advantages over USPS in regards to the universal service obligation, but that two of your examples were incorrect.

Comment: Re:Stop Trying to Subsidize Junk Mail (Score 1) 299

by GKThursday (#33014760) Attached to: Adapting the Post Office To the Digital Age
You wouldn't like the cost of FCM without Standard mail. Automation of the mail is the reason you can send a one ounce letter from California to Maine for $0.44. Automation requires a large volume of mail to be economically feasible.
Also, its not like mailers get a subsidy just because they are nice people. They clean the addresses, update for moves, pre-sort the mail to USPS specs, and put a barcode on so the mail can skip several steps. The subsidy is for this work, it's called "work-sharing."
Raising the rates on advertising mail always drives volume away, and at this point in time, the USPS needs every scrap of volume it can get.
As for the semi-privatization, that was a stupid idea. The USPS needs freedom to react, and 536 "CEOs" is no way to get that freedom. Congress is all about the USPS saving itself, but won't let it close a Post Office that serves 50 people and is less than a mile from anther Post Office. And at the same time Congress steals $5.5 billion a year to fund deficit spending. If any private company embezzled that amount the executives would be behind bars.

Comment: USPS isn't in as bad a state as you might think (Score 2, Interesting) 299

by GKThursday (#33014514) Attached to: Adapting the Post Office To the Digital Age
The thing is that the USPS wouldn't been doing as bad if congress wasn't constantly meddling.
They set up "retirement health benefits pre-funding" at approx $5.5 billion a year. Now pre-funding retirement benefits is a good idea, but that's not what this money is used for. That $5.5 billion goes into the federal coffers. This is after the USPS was forced to overfund their previous pension by $75 billion.
USPS would have been profitable in 3 of the last 4 years without the pre-funding requirement.
I work as a "Postal liaison" for a commercial printer. Which pretty much means I have to watch every minute detail of the USPS in the news. I think they are headed for a hard fall, but not because their business model is broken, but because of the meddling of 536 "CEOs".

If you had better tools, you could more effectively demonstrate your total incompetence.

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