USPS Right to Kill Digital Forwarding Service

The U.S. Postal Service is sending out mixed messages about its intentions about the future of mail.

One on hand the USPS has been quite intent on reducing service by closing down individual post offices and distribution facilities for the past three years, even when these facilities still desperately serve the needs of people, particularly those less able to afford computers and or digital devices and/or feel uncomfortable with them.

On the other hand the postal service has been accused of squelching entrepreneurial efforts to make the mail all digital. Such was the case with Outbox, an Austin, TV-based mail forwarding service that sought to use special apps and other devices to digitize mail and weed out direct mail so that people would never have to go to their mailboxes again, according to InsideSources

The two entrepreneurs behind this, Evan Baehr and Will Davis, were said to be former Capitol Hill staffers who later went to Harvard Business School and cooked up this idea as a way to help solve the postal service overcome its persistent and largely artificially created financial problems.

Artificial because of the more than $5.8 billion obligation the USPS must pay each year to fund the healthcare costs of future retirees, effectively leaving it with a permanent deficit,

The trouble is that Baehr and Davis saw the USPS’s financial travails only through the narrowest of lenses bred from the detached and rarefied worlds of official Washington and elite management academies.

Apparently it never occurred to them that ordinary people still like to go to their mailboxes every day and experience the tactile feel of mail. They also can’t fathom how crucial a functioning postal system has always been to the country and how it has helped and still does spawn business on a national scale.

More than that, they fail to realize—or just don’t care—how their plan might further divide Americans into haves and have-nots.

Of course, technology companies and venture capitalists frothed at the mouth over Outbox, reports suggest. Why not try to make a killing over destroying a revered public institution?

The postal service was correct to put a stop to Outbox. Even if its sole motivation was to protect the mailing industry—which accounts for most of its volume now—it did the right thing by the population at large at least in this case.

This entry was posted in Congress, postal finances, U.S. Postal Service. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to USPS Right to Kill Digital Forwarding Service

  1. Lynn N. says:

    How could all mail be digital? Don’t people get checks sometimes in the mail? I know there must be a few readers of magazines, the few print magazines left, that receive them by mail. (Just check out the subway riders in rush hour- everyone who is not studying his or her phone is reading the New Yorker -in print). I am all for technology, but seriously? At least the USPS had enough sense not to put the gun to its own head & pull the trigger.
    What is Issa up to now?


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