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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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".

Comment Re:The law is on London's side (Score 1) 526

I can't tell if you're trying to be funny or serious (I'm leaning towards funny, this is /. after all. . .)
I don't care how great a photo you see of a work of art, it in no way is equal that work in person. Take this image of Richard III for example.
In person, this painting is truly stunning, the detail is absolutely beyond belief. However to see it require looking both closely and from a distance. I don't know of any photographic technique that can capture the level of detail, the changing perspective, and colors of a true masterpiece. I say this a photographer who has tried to capture some art on film, and never been successful (though this could say more about my skill as a photographer, than the challenges of this technique).
And lastly, there is something about a museum that is sacred (it does derive from "temple of the muses" after all.) The space is holy, a shrine to Man's limitless potential and ability, as well his infinite inspiration found in the wonders of the Universe.

Comment Re:Taste (Score 1) 366

If you want an excellent good value Scotch, I'd recommend Edradour 10. It is one of the smoothest 10s you will ever taste, beating some 20s+ that I have tried, and only being beaten by a Glen Grant 50 (Gordon and Macphail bottling).
You can probably find Edradour for 20ish. And it should appeal to your "homebrew" mentality, it is the smallest distillery in Scotland, 3 men work there, and one only handles the books.
http://www.edradour.co.uk/main2.html

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