Billions to Fund Dinosaurs

Future Prospects for USPS and Mass Transit

Doing zip about the inevitable Decline of the Postal Service and Public Transit

We have two tax payer funded public services whose salad days are done and gone, the Postal Service and Public Transit.

Both have been made partially obsolete by technological and societal changes that ain’t going back

But we will continue to fund them like its 1970.

A quick review. Most of the cost of both dinosaurs are mostly fixed, whether they delivery one postcard or a billion, or have one rider or a million. Post person comes 6 days a week and the subway and buses run every day. Regardless of how few letters to deliver, and no matter how empty (watch the busses, you will be able to see straight thru them most of the time).

People don’t write letters any more, or get magazines. Most people pay their bills electronically now. News comes online. As a consequence, your postal box mostly now contains illegal hand bills offering discount roofing or landscaping services. You can guess the result. The USPS lost $3.4B in 2019 and has $11B in debt. And it is most likely to get MUCH WORSE.

As for public transit, it has always been a huge money loser. If you can afford not to, you don’t ride it. People will pay a lot to avoid riding a smelly, criminal infested bus. Have you seen all the Mercedes and BMW’s out there? And the socially conscious drive Teslas to assuage their guilt at avoiding the bus.

But now, thanks to COVID, some huge number of people will telework. Guess what the portends for ridership on public transit? Pffftt. Gone for good. We spend more than $70B on public transit, and get only 10-15% of that back in fares. So the deficit will go down and the number of poor slobs formerly resigned to holding a strap on foul dirty buses will be reduced by what, 40%? More?

Thanks to the brilliance of our brave political leaders, the reaction to these realities is to keep everything exactly the same. We will build MORE subway tracks and keep delivering almost no mail 6 days a week. At unbelievable costs and waste.

I guess we are just lucky the government does not decide to bring back the Pony Express.

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