Wrong Legislative Thought Of The Day: An Email Tax To Save The Post Office

from the er,-no dept

There have been questions for quite some time now as to whether or not the traditional US postal system can survive the digital era. Frankly, the outlook isn't good, what with email replacing the sending of letters in large part and the postal service losing billions of dollars each year. The postal service itself tried to fight what I guess they thought was just a hip email trend by reminding everyone how terrible email is and how great letters are, or something. Sadly, it appears that campaign made little headway and the US mail system continues to look for a savior.

That's where Gordon Wozniak, Berkeley City Councilman and bad-idea generator, hopes to enter into the equation with his monumentally dumb idea of micro-taxing email, a service everyone uses, to fund the postal system, which nobody cares about.

Wozniak told the council: "There should be something like a bit tax. I mean a bit tax could be a cent per gigabit and they would still make, probably, billions of dollars a year… And there should be, also, a very tiny tax on email," perhaps one-hundredth of a cent. He said this would discourage spam and not have much impact on the typical Internet user. Wozniak went on to suggest a sales tax on internet transactions that could help, in part, fund "vital functions that the post office serves."
Let's set aside for a moment that the proliferation of spam blocking software and appliances has mostly erased spam emails for anyone interested. If Wozniak wants to propose tax law, he should at least familiarize himself with the relevant laws on the books, including the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act, which bans internet taxes entirely. Seems like kind of a big roadblock, no? Fortunately, Wozniak's idea is not only dumb, but it's also completely unworkable, as noted by Harvard Law School's Jonathan Zittrain:
"To the extent that the cheap flow of flat rate first class mail has positive effects for society at large, the insistence that the Post Office be revenue-neutral may not make sense," Zittrain said. "Taxing email as an alternative, however, is a terrible idea: bad in theory and truly unworkable in practice. There have been proposals to see fees imposed on email by service providers — or recipients themselves — as a way of minimizing spam, but to impose an external tax on it when there are ready substitutes (Facebook messaging, anyone?), and when collection would be a nightmare, seems a non-starter. There is no reason to tax electronic mail users in particular to save the Post Office, any more than it would make sense to tax coffee drinkers to do it."
In response, Wozniak said that despite not being an expert on internet taxes (wut?), he still thinks the idea deserves to be considered because "many billions of emails are sent every day [and] an email tax could raise substantial sums." By the way, he delivered that statement...wait for it...via email.

Well, I'm not a bad-idea tax expert, but since there are so many bad ideas generated every day, we could solve every financial crisis everywhere by taxing the hell out of bad ideas. Let's start with yours, Mr. Wozniak. After all, the postal service needs you.



Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 6:19am

    I can't see a reason why the postal service should not exist. However it is clear that it's not profitable anymore. One way out would be to couple it with package delivery (ie: Fedex) so letters and packages would use the same infra-structure. Regardless delivering letters or papers (there are things that need to be mailed physically) would still be unprofitable so ultimately one solution would be to make the postal service a Govt granted service such as schools for instance. When you take profits out of the equation and just aim to break-even things get easier. And honestly, even if the Govt has to put money to maintain the service it's just its obligation.

     

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    Donnicton, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 7:42am

    So the bizarro world does exist! Here we have living proof, an incompetent bizarro Wozniak that only generates bad ideas despite his otherwise good intentions. The counterpart to the Superwoz.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 7:43am

    If we taxed stupid ideas from our leaders we'd squash the national debt in a couple weeks.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    Re:

    Yeah, I skimmed over the name in the first paragraph then nearly did a spit-take when I saw "Wozniak" in the second. Clearly The Woz should sue for trademark infringement on his name.

     

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    Atkray (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    " the insistence that the Post Office be revenue-neutral may not make sense," Zittrain said."

    This insistence is the only reason anyone cares about it.

    If not for this insistence the Post Office would just be another government black hole to throw money in.

    At least with this insistence there is an illusion of trying to run it like an actual business.

    The insistence that the Post Office be revenue-neutral makes perfect sense.



    Note: The above assumes that we aren't even considering letting the Post Office run as a for profit enterprise.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 7:57am

    Wrong premises: it's NOT "The Post Office".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Postal_Service

    Emphasis added:

    'The USPS is often mistaken for a government-owned corporation (e.g., Amtrak) because it operates much like a business, but as noted above, it is legally defined as an "independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States", (39 U.S.C. § 201) as it is controlled by Presidential appointees and the Postmaster General. As a quasi-governmental agency, it has many special privileges, including sovereign immunity, eminent domain powers, powers to negotiate postal treaties with foreign nations, and an exclusive legal right to deliver first-class and third-class mail. Indeed, in 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that the USPS was not a government-owned corporation, and therefore could not be sued under the Sherman Antitrust Act.[70]'

    So, if think you're supporting "The Post Office", know that it's been taken over by organized crime, I mean "private interests", in conspiracy with gov't. Supporting it with taxes is direct fascism.

     

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    artp (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    Irony

    The government is not subject to antitrust enforcement (assuming it ever gets enforced), even if it is privatized government.

    They just might be able to get away with this.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:02am

    There are some voices that are attributing the failure of USPS to certain legislation that's making the USPS unworkable.

    Source:
    https://www.apwu.org/news/nsb/2012/nsb18-120726-congress-failuretoact.htm
    h ttps://www.google.com/search?q=Why+USPS+is+failing+GOP

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:08am

    I have heard some truly awful ideas in my time, but this brain fart is right up there with the worst.

    Hamstringing new (email isn't even all that new) technology to save a dying industry is just stupid.

    Are you listening entertainment industry?

     

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    anonymous dutch coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:09am

    sounds familiar

    I use the USPS often to import packages from the US and love them for it. Fast, cheap and dependable, but I can't see a future for them delivering paper mail. The amount of that is getting less and less. Here in The Netherlands the mail delivery man now officially isn't a fulltime job, but just a side job for students and housewives with terrible pay and other conditions. It says enough over the future prospects of paper mail.

     

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    mr. sim (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:11am

    the reason the post office is unable to "turn a profit" is simply because the us post office is required to prepay health benefits for the great grandchildren of the great grandchildren of OUR great grand children's grandchildren. it's being used in a scheme to "lessen" the budget deficit and it's not something that should be done.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:12am

    Why should the post office be profitable?

    The post office is a government service, just like the interstate highway system, the USDA, Military, etc.

    When is the last time someone asked if the interstate highway system should be profitable?

    This radical right wing view of "government as a business" has done so much damage to our civic institutions.

    The post office is either a valuable service desired by voters or it isn't. If it is, is should be funded

     

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    ralph, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:13am

    That's right...track down every smtp server worldwide and tax them all.

    I lived in Berkeley during the late 60s and all thru the 70s. I have fond memories of the place...it's all a bit hazy though...wonder why....

    Hey! Let's bring back the Pony Express!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:14am

    1st point. have asked before, where the fuck do these fucking ass hats come from? they are supposed to be more sensible than ordinary people, hence the 'promotion'; to such high profile, high paid positions. my dick has more sense!

    2nd point. like every other business, certainly those that are run by sensible people rather than self-preserving dick-brains, the post office needs to change it's business model to be more in line with the needs of today's society. if there are less letters, deliver more parcels. if other companies do that cheaper, adapt. it's also possible to deliver other stuff as well so why restrict the deliveries to parcels (and signed-for letters) only?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:14am

    Re:

    Actually it doesn't make any sense.

    The government is not a business and should not be run like one.

    I guess we should run the military as a for profit operation also

     

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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:14am

    Re:

    Or just abandon the old service entirely and work out a system where papers doesn't need to be delivered (like: bills, notices, whatever in signed emails, to official email addresses), and deliver the rest via existing package delivery companies like fedex and ups.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:15am

    Re:

    The postal service is NOT A BUSINESS.

    Jesus, the entire country has been brainwashed

     

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    gorehound (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:15am

    Wozniak is a stupid ignorant person who does not belong in this Government.I have no idea what his Party is nor do I care.He, as a man is a failure and he never should of been Voted into a Government Seat.
    F$ck You Woz ! No way will we allow this too be a Law.You think people in this Nation want to be paying a Tax on Emails ? You think people want to pay Tax on Emails that are Spam/JUNK MAIL ?

    Here's Hoping whoever you are..........the people will take Notice and your Political Career will be ended.You need to be Voted out next election and replaced with someone who has a modicum of intelligence.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re:

    you do. just not for YOUR profit

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:18am

    Didn't we fight a war with Britain over bs taxes like this?

     

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    dennis deems (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:19am

    Re: Why should the post office be profitable?

    So much This.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:20am

    1) There was already an Internet scare about a fake email tax proposal, it cost the government million of dollars from all the extra man hours in overtime congress people's offices needed to assure angry voters there is no Internet Tax proposal and that they'd vote against it if there were one.

    2) The postal office is actually in MUCH better shape financially then they look. There's just one HUGE financial dead weight that's making them so unprofitable. A law congress passed around 2006ish that requires the Postal Service to pay in advance the full pension and health care benefits for all postal employees when they retire. Pay those bills in advance, for the next 75 YEARS.

    That means the Postal service has to put up money TODAY for future employees that haven't even been born yet, to pay their retirement benefits! ZERO other government agencies or businesses fund retirement benefits 75 years in advance, they pay the bill when it comes, as the employees earn the money to pay for it.

    The reason that law is in place is because it's Congress' way of stealing BILLIONS of dollars from the Postal Service to make the Federal Deficit look a bit smaller each year.

     

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  23.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:22am

    Re:

    I don't know. Britain likes BS taxes like this too so it should make us the best of friends.

     

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    Jessie (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:27am

    HD

    We need to start taxing HDTV's in order to save the SD cathode ray tube business. Doesn't anybody think of the poor children who won't grow up with a TV that weighs more than they do?

     

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    Lord Binky, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:28am

    Fixed that for you.

     

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    Keeees, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:29am

    "many billions of emails are sent every day [and] an email tax could raise substantial sums."


    There we have it, the complete reasoning: "it exists, let's tax it!"

    I propose a tax on picking your nose. A tenner each time. That ought to be just about as enforceable and could raise more money on a yearly basis than his daft idea.

    (Back of the envelope, his numbers: Hundredth of a cent per mail, say a billion emails per day, that's about 40 million dollar a year. Okay, I mean I wouldn't spit on it, but in the grand scheme of things, not really that much is it...)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:30am

    Re: Fixed that for you.

    ugh, stupid enter button. anyways. At least this is realistic and would work.

    "many billions of people exist every day [and] an taxes could raise substantial sums."

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:32am

    If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
    ~Ronald Reagan

     

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  29.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:32am

    Re: HD

    They already have VAT in the UK so we are ahead of you there

     

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  30.  
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    Mike C. (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:33am

    Re:

    If only the postal service with it's fleet of trucks that visit nearly every physical address in the entire country multiple times per week could be used in other ways. I mean, it's really too bad we don't have GPS units they could attach to them so that mapping companies could get really accurate GPS locations for addresses. Or if only someone could invent a camera system that you mount to the roof of a vehicle to take pictures of the road to get a street level view for mapping directions. And what local municipality could possibly want a service to report road and highway issues like serious potholes in the northeast or roads washed out in the southwest. And, of course, there's no way a power company would want to license a fleet like that to help get a complete survey of their power lines looking for dead/weak trees and obstructions. I doubt even a communications company like AT&T or Comcast would want that either.

    Such a tragedy...

     

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    dante866 (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:33am

    Re: Wrong premises: it's NOT "The Post Office".

    Would you keep in one vein of thought? either be totally full of crap, or actually logical?

    thanks for the rare insightful post...

     

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    Haywood (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:35am

    Won't that just move the servers offshore?

    I'd be looking for an Email service that didn't send me a bill in a heart beat.

     

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  33.  
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    Lord Binky, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:36am

    Instead of making tacking on e-mail taxes, how about just make a 'because we need a post office tax'. Quit trying to make things seem different without even trying, this is like watching a bad magician.

     

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  34.  
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    Bengie, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:36am

    New Law

    There should be a law/bill/whatev that says no law can target protocols above layer 2. All Internet traffic shall only be viewed as data amounts and not types of data.

    Data is data. It does not matter if it is a web page, an email, a Linux ISO, a back-up of your computer. Laws should not be able to target different usages of legal uses.

     

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  35.  
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    Matt Craig, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:37am

    Spam? Really?

    Funny how concerned he is about people spamming my inbox, but has no problem collecting money from the people that spam my mailbox. I swear I get at least a dozen pieces of junk mail a day from insurance agents, Comcast, AT&T, etc. They're collecting the postage on that though, so is it not spam?

     

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  36.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:38am

    How about a stupid idea tax?

    Politicians would be declared bankrupt in no time.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:38am

    Re:

    The full quote is Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." It was part of a speech where he was criticizing democrats in congress. These are NOT his views, rather those of his opponents.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:39am

    Re:

    True! Tax the Politicians and their stupid ideas!

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:42am

    Re:

    Main problem: the money would just end up going right back to the idiots, and as they've demonstrated repeatedly, they aren't the best at handling large sums of money.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:48am

    You want to save the post office? How about changing that ridiculous over-funded pensions rule?

     

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    DannyB (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:50am

    Tax Hollywood

    Since both Hollywood and the Post Office seem to be against the Internet, maybe Hollywood could help out its buddy by paying a tax to save the post office?

    Oh, but then there's Hollywood Accounting.

    Maybe all of those "fees" charged that make movies unprofitable should go to something worthwhile? NASA? LHC? Curing stupidity? Eliminating patents and copyrights?

     

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  42.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:50am

    Re: Re:

    These are NOT his views, rather those of his opponents.


    And these are not even the views of his opponents.

     

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  43.  
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    kog999, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 8:51am

    Setting aside how completely unenforceable an email tax would be, even if I was changed the low amount of 100 emails for a penny the second I have to put in a credit card number to sign up for or continue using an email service I would stop using it.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:01am

    Re: Re:

    That is a great idea. Actually now that I think about it, they could sell access to the data they gained to the commercial companies that wanted to use it, making up for some of the losses that they have otherwise.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:05am

    Re: Won't that just move the servers offshore?

    Then I have just the email service for you. I send out no bills. Just put in your credit card number and it will all be done automatically through a small company in Microstonia.

     

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    Jessie (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:11am

    ISP

    My guess is they will want to charge the ISP based on the total number of outgoing emails from the provider. Then the ISP will charge based on some kind of average claiming they don't have the technology to keep count of the number of emails per person. So guess what, you'll finally get to pay for the people who's computer has been hijacked and is sending spam by the millions.

    I can see the new business model already, "Buy our new ED herbal pill, when 10,000 buy we'll stop sending spam."

    Or if they do keep track of who sends what, the new ransom ware: "Send us a money pack number with $50 or we will send 1 million emails a day from your computer until you do."

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:14am

    Re: Won't that just move the servers offshore?

    That wouldn't matter because that is not how it would be implemented anyway. They would require the ISP's to meter SMTP traffic and tax on the amount of traffic passing through the ISP's switch, just like hosting providers do for metering bandwidth. Of course you could use a VPN or proxy to get around it but then what would happen is you would have the IRS coming down on VPN users for tax evasion. Lovely.

     

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    akp (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:18am

    Re:

    Anyone who thinks the USPS is no longer needed or relevant should try living anywhere rural. A significant portion of this country lives without broadband internet, and in places where FedEx and UPS charge 50 times what the USPS does for delivery.

    We need the postal service... Which by the way is an actual enumerated power of the Constitution.

    Where are all the right-wingers who live and die by holding only to the Constitution when we talk about the postal service?

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:18am

    The solution is SIMPLE!

    STOP giving bulk mailers a price break! Make them pay full price for postage, just like we do! Companies that mail THOUSANDS of letters at a time, junk mailers that mail thousands at a time...you get the idea.

    Bulk mailers get a price break for mailing such a large amount. They do NOT pay full price of postage.

    Of all the junk mail we all get each day, wouldn't that be a HUGE incentive for the USPS to consider? It's a LOT more money they'll see each day to ease the situation they've put themselves in.

     

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  50.  
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    John Doe, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:21am

    I knew it, emailers are freeloading PIRATES!

    I have always said, when they start putting a pirate tax on broadband connections, hard drives, or anything else I but, that would be the day I start pirating. Now they want to put a pirate/you must be a criminal tax on my email? That does it, I am going to start pirating mail today!

     

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  51.  
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    Arthur Moore (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Good idea, but congress won't let them. Apparently they've tried similar ideas in the past. This article is a little preachy, but it has some good quotes:

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/03/04/how-the-postal-service-is-being-gutted.a spx

    "Whenever USPS tries to enter a new arena, private competitors bleat to Congress. Examples abound: plans to develop an online payment system in 2000 (Internet industry cried foul); public copy machines (office supply stores); in-store sales of phone cards and money transfers; selling postal meter cartridges (Pitney Bowes objected). And, of course, rivals such as UPS complained, ultimately leading Congress in 2006 to restrict USPS to mail delivery."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Nnnnoooooooo! It'll give the MPAA/RIAA the idea. :~(

     

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  53.  
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    John Doe, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:24am

    Re: I knew it, emailers are freeloading PIRATES!

    Seriously though, I guess this shows why Steve Jobs got his job back at Apple and the Woz didn't.

     

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    John Doe, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re:

    This is what we call an infinite loop in computer terms.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re: Won't that just move the servers offshore?

    And when they charged the ISP, the ISP would just add your share of the taxes they were charged on to your bill. In much the same way that the other federal regulatory taxes show up on your phone bill. The claim that it would be unenforceable, is only false when you look at it as being a per email tax implemented at the server which would be nearly impossible to implement, which is exactly why they wouldn't do it that way.

     

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    akp (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:28am

    Re: Tax Hollywood

    The Post Office isn't against the internet. You can buy postage online and print out the labels...

    It's Congress that hates the Post Office. Note that this is not a USPS official proposing this, it's a bone-headed member of Congress.

     

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    Haywood (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Won't that just move the servers offshore?

    Missed the post about shunning email services that require CC'sapparently

     

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    Haywood (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Won't that just move the servers offshore?

    Like every other move that attempts to screw down the internet, it would be mapped around directly. Introducing word messages now with out pop or smtp. I'm just saying it is unenforceable in the way that the information exchange is a moving target. The reason Email and IRC have survived relatively unchanged, is due to lack of natural enemies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re:

    Who cares about the farmers in rural America anyway? We can just start buying all our food form China like we do everything else right? We don't need people living in small towns surrounded by farmland. They can just move to the cities like everyone else right? Besides, when we get rid of the farms, we won't have anymore immigration issues with illegal aliens migrating to work on those farms picking crops. It's a win for everybody!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:41am

    taxes!

    Next there will be a proposal to tax text messages to save the wireline phone companies. Unreal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Won't that just move the servers offshore?

    Yeah, just saw that you didn't want a bill. I promised I wouldn't send you one. If you prefer, I'll take your bank account and routing number.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Holy fucking flying squirrels nuts, find the nearest nut house and commit yourself. We don't need more people being contaminated with your mindset.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:50am

    Re:

    Taxation with out representation. We were being taxed without having any say in the government body taxing us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:51am

    Re:

    They are only required to pay retirement benefits for current employees and current retirees. Even if they only had to pay for current retirees they would not be profitable.

    This whole argument was cooked up by conservative pundits in an effort to pretend that government "interference" with the USPS is "destroying" it. The reality is that the USPS shot itself in the foot by failing to set aside ANY money to pay retiree benefits. The USPS hasn't been profitable for decades but they pretended they were by failing to account for the retirement benefits they had promised their employees.

    Read this for a simple explanation: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-02/understanding-the-post-office-s-benefits-mess.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Colin, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooosh...

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    anonymouse, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:09am

    Re:

    I wrote a ranting comment then deleted it. The governement really needs to make sure everyone has a stable and reliable mail service. If that means taking over the massive amount of package deliveries throught the country to cover the cost of mail deliver so be it, close down dhl and fed ex or let the governement buy them out.
    There are few things in life i want the government involved in but water supply, electricity generation and supply, roads and bridges,phone lines/broadband and the postal service are all examples of the businesses that should in no way be done for profit. They are services that everyone wants and deserves and if it means being taxed a small amount to maintain /upgrade them so be it. For profit organizations have proven they cannot provide the service everyone wants so lets nationalize everything.
    And the post office should be booming with the amount of parcels that are being posted compared to just a few years ago, what with all the new services on the internet that post things worldwide i am surprised they are struggling at all.

     

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  67.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:13am

    Re:

    It appears as though the USPS has been non-profit for years. They would love to break even, I'm sure.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Your sarcasm detector is broken too huh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re:

    I doubt even a communications company like AT&T or Comcast would want that either.

    As somebody who works for an electric utility, comm companies don't give a flip about their lines until somebody gives 'em a call (and you could argue that, too). I've seen installations where they lay wire on the ground, up a tree, over a sidewalk, down a tree and to the house. They don't mind using trees as poles either. Not until the state utility board writes up a violation to the electric utility and we go barking up their tree (and threaten with fines) will they fix their cables.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    icon
    Robert Doyle (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    lol

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    icon
    Robert Doyle (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:24am

    Re: sounds familiar

    I too use the USPS as my preferred international shipper (to Canada). When I get hit with duty on a package shipped USPS it is just the duty and maybe a small admin fee - when I get something from UPS I get bent over and #$%$#@, dry. I ordered a couple of shirts and they only shipped UPS... the "brokerage fee" was almost the price of my order.

    I think the USPS keeps some of these other shippers at least partially honest.

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Was that the sound of my comment going completely over his head?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    icon
    special-interesting (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:38am

    Not gonna happen. Usually a tax(ing) opportunity comes at a point of purchase and because most e-mail accounts are free this does not exist. This of course will not stop idiotic legislators and clueless corporation execs. from suggesting such.

    No way to enforce and no way many would even want the several government agencies that would have access to your personal contact web info. Think of it: Fed IRS, State IRS, FCC, Interstate Commerce division(s) Congressional watchdog communities, (no way to deny the various) intelligence agencies from data harvesting, etc. And. This is in addition to all of the commercial data mining that would want to dig in.

    The taxing of e-mails would require giving your SS# and other personal info to such government agencies thus linking it to any such accounts. It would facilitate the serving of court papers most likely (to be lost, in a whole new wave, of commercial span). All your on-line accounts would be FaceBook like.

    If the government wants to whine about it too bad! It gives (to many more) reasons, for a protectionist minded legislators, to drive perfectly good domestic customers overseas (again! Its a trend.). More lost business for desperate US electronic information based firms.

    The USPS, or its rivals, is not going away anytime soon so let them raise their rates and let free market forces flow. At this time paper mail is not in danger to the extent that I don't even remember giving out an e-mail address to anyone except a forum or two and thats most likely an alias anyway.

    Taxing one thing to pay for another does not seem like proper representation of tax levies. (Classic Boston Tea Party of 250y ago not the tepid present day variety) If they wanted to support USPS all they would have to do it tax each stamp purchase, siphon off what portion they felt bureaucracy felt they could get away with, and give the rest back to USPS. (classic)

    Off topic: One beef about the USPS was a while back the courts determined that your very own mail box was basically treated like their property and even the paperboy was (legally) prohibited from using it. The instant proliferation of all those extra colorful newspaper boxes hung right next to the original box was a fascinating cultural effect. Its amazing how the courts are abused to enforce monopolistic culture.

    There is no cornering the market on stupid ideas (just listen to me for example) and this will not be the last. Stamping out Taxation issues is always a hot topic and hope voters make that a priority right next to finding legislators who care about constitutional matters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    icon
    Jeff (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    actually it is a recursive algorithm, which upon execution would become nested to deep and throw an "out of memory" error.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:44am

    Re:

    If 'the postal service' needs the exclusive legal right to deliver first and third class mail then it should not exist. Remove those restrictions from their competition and we'll see if it needs to exist or not. My money is on a resounding no.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    icon
    Yakko Warner (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sounds like you need...

    *fanfare*

    ...a SarcMark®!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77.  
    icon
    techinabox (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 10:58am

    Yep

    I live in a small town and ship a lot of stuff either through Ebay or for my business so I spend a lot of time at the Post Office. Talking to the postmaster, nice guy who has been there for as long as I can remember, and he told me that the Post Office breaks even or makes money on packages. Individual letters and bulk mail are what kill them since they need to deliver a lot of them per carrier to make it worth the carrier's pay check.

    He thinks they are afraid to raise rates on letter delivery because that is what the average person uses to gauge how well the Post Office is doing.

    He also hates that pension prefunding.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I read that as "an out of money" error.

     

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  79.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And then crash... and crashing the stupid idea generating code is bad how?

     

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  80.  
    icon
    Gracey (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:11am

    [And there should be, also, a very tiny tax on email," perhaps one-hundredth of a cent. He said this would discourage spam and not have much impact on the typical Internet user. Wozniak went on to suggest a sales tax on internet transactions that could help, in part, fund "vital functions that the post office serves."]

    Remind me not to send emails to anyone in the US. Geeze.

    The snail mail postal services actually do serve a purpose. Not everyone even has email or internet access, and thousands still send greetings cards by mail, and wedding invitations and even (gasp) bills. And how would one send a package containing a gift by email (okay, one could use courier, but the post is usually cheaper)?

    ...besides, old people like their "mail".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81.  
    icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wow, awesome link. I knew the USPS was a lot better than the reputation some people are trying to smear them with, but this is a real eye-opener.

    And you don't even have to be out in a rural area to benefit from them. I live in the suburbs, in a nice apartment complex, and USPS is the only package delivery system I trust. UPS, Fedex and all the rest consistently screw things up in ridiculous ways.

    - Not finding my address.
    - Not leaving things with the apartment manager when I'm not home.
    - Presenting ridiculous lies about why my package didn't get delivered, such as "the driver needed a code to get in." (No he didn't, and he wouldn't have at any of the apartment complexes nearby either.)
    - And worst of all, never delivering when I'm at home! The problem with only working "standard business hours" is that all of the standard businesses work the same hours. I do not understand how these guys can remain in business when their schedule is completely incompatible with that of so many of their customers! That's Service Industry 101!

    By contrast, USPS has never once mis-delivered a package for me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I thought it was pretty damned obvious from the tone and the sheer outrageousness of the comments that I no sarcasm mark was necessary. Besides, sarcasm is kinda like jokes. If you have to explain it to the person... well nevermind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well actually in the analogy the government would be the computer and the tax law would be the code that would start the recursive process causing the system (government) to crash and requiring a hard reboot in order to recover. The government has been "out of memory" and in desperate need of a hard reboot and reload for quite some time even without this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84.  
    identicon
    Greg G, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    In this case, we could change "out of memory" to "stupidity overflow" or something.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85.  
    icon
    Yakko Warner (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You mean you underestimated the ability for someone on the internet to misinterpret your intent?

    I think I found the problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re:

    Clearly The Woz should sue for trademark infringement on his name.

    The Woz would do no such thing. Steve Jobs, on the other hand, I wouldn't put it past him since he's sued people for trademark/patent infringement for less, but Steve Wozniak doesn't use his powers for evil.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Steve Jobs, on the other hand

    And yes, I am deathly afraid of Zombie Steve Jobs. That guy was a Sith when he was alive, and I suspect, like what I learned playing SWKOTOR and SWKOTORII, that his powers and his presence exist somewhere, attached to some holocube.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:42am

    Re:

    Everything you said after the number 2 is wrong. To save time I'll just repost my comment from above.

    They are only required to pay retirement benefits for current employees and current retirees. Even if they only had to pay for current retirees they would not be profitable.

    This whole argument was cooked up by conservative pundits in an effort to pretend that government "interference" with the USPS is "destroying" it. The reality is that the USPS shot itself in the foot by failing to set aside ANY money to pay retiree benefits (for the last hundred years). The USPS hasn't been profitable for decades but they pretended they were by failing to account for the retirement benefits they had promised their employees.

    Read this for a simple explanation: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-02/understanding-the-post-office-s-benefits-mess.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  89.  
    identicon
    Greg G, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:42am

    Re: Why should the post office be profitable?

    This radical left wing view of "government should give everything away" has done so muich damange to our civic institutions.


    FTFY.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:44am

    Re: Re: Wrong premises: it's NOT "The Post Office".

    Quoting Wikipedia... About the only time he shows any logic at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Won't that just move the servers offshore?

    The thing about it is, it would be implemented at every level so the tax would get applied at least twice and that is only if they measure it from the servers that do the communication. SMTP is not just used to communicate between the client and the SMTP server. It is also used to communicate between the relaying server and the destination server so it would likely apply there as well. If you route your mail through a proxy filtering service, add another implementation of the tax on it. Furthermore, if they did it at the switch for every provider for all traffic on port 25, then it gets charged at every relay hop that bounces through located in the US.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  92.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 11:50am

    Re: New Law

    There should be a law/bill/whatev that says no law can target protocols above layer 2. All Internet traffic shall only be viewed as data amounts and not types of data.

    I'd be happier just cutting out the middle-man and go for a law that outlaws taxing the internet entirely (except it already exists in two separate forms.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  93.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nah. It is just more fun (sad actually) to laugh at adults who freak out because they never got junior high level English concepts like sarcasm and hyperbole.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  94.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: Why should the post office be profitable?

    Not give. Provide. Provide based on what is paid for by the public in the form of taxes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  95.  
    icon
    Mike C. (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    In Connecticut after 2011 the power companies started to care a little bit. With two major power outages just a couple months apart, the legislature stuck their nose into things and passed a law about penalties if more than 10% of their customers are out for more than 72 hours. For the last 2 years, they've actually been trimming and clearing lines. That's pretty much what prompted me to think of the idea.

    Granted, a similar idea would be for follow up after a major storm. Since they're travelling the streets, have them report downed trees, wires, etc. Tie it in with a GPS location and perhaps a picture upload (via cell) and utility response time could increase dramatically.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  96.  
    identicon
    Donnicton, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It comes in the form of a red and black glowing iPhone filled with video recordings teaching the recipient of his business tactics.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  97.  
    icon
    Internet Zen Master (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 3:03pm

    Why hello there, I'm from the Internet Sanity Bureau

    Mr. Gordon Wozniak, it has come to our attention that you have proposed a tax on email in order to save the Post Office.

    Well, we've done some thinking, and have come to a consensus:

    You are complete ignoramus concerning all things Internet. Even more than the late Senator Ted Stevens (and we didn't even think that was possible).

    In response to your blatantly stupid idea, we're going to have to ask you to permanently disconnect from all things connected to the Internet, and spend some quality time with your physical mail and post office, since you seem to love it so much.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  98.  
    icon
    charliebrown (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 3:48pm

    Australia Post

    Australia Post, the Australian USPS, has asked for an email tax for years. Every time, the government said no. Then eBay Australia opened it's door. Suddenly, Australia Post went quiet. Now they have eBay seller parcel packages available.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  99.  
    icon
    Atkray (profile), Mar 11th, 2013 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Why should the post office be profitable?

    You need to get out more, I have adult children that are married to idiots that do not think and you can not explain to them that if the government provides it they paid for it. They think if it comes from the government it is free and no amount of reasoning can make them understand otherwise. Seriously it is worse that trying to explain something to AJ or bob.

    Oh and all their friends think the same way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  100.  
    identicon
    The Old Man in The Sea, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Australia Post

    When you walk into an Australia Post Store (Post Office), one will find that most of what is being sold is not mail related. They now provide money transfer, bill paying, passport services, books, toys, as well as mail services.

    The organisation has added these services to generate more income. It bemuses me that the US has such a problem when government services branch out to provide additional services - somebody always gets upset and wants laws made to stop these additional services.

    In Australia, we have many private businesses that provide similar services to Australia Post and still manage to compete in the market place.

    The US seems to have an inordinate fear of government organisations providing services in a free market, but really can't seem to get overly upset over government secret control (NSA, FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, etc).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  101.  
    identicon
    LZ, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 4:56pm

    Privatize the US Postal Service.

    Privitize the US Postal Service and we could save tax dollars. If the Postal Service were a business, the owner would manage it to make a profit. The owner could lease or sell off Post Office property to reduce debt. I wish a current business, such as FedEx or United Parcel Service, would run it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  102.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 7:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why should the post office be profitable?

    That is what happens when we stop teaching kids to think.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  103.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 7:48pm

    Why does USPS become an ISP? Email and internet are the mail of this generation. Granted, it's probably unworkable, but I think it is a good idea.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  104.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 9:21pm

    Phone tax

    Seems we should have needed phone tax to save telegraph offices too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  105.  
    icon
    Sheogorath (profile), Mar 31st, 2013 @ 9:23pm

    Re: Re: HD

    VAT is the UK equivalent of the US's sales tax. Your point, Mr. Paul?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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