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Volume 21: The Post Office


James Farley Post Office

Neither by Snow, nor Rain, nor Heat, nor Darkness

“The post office, or any world of work, is only one institutionalized system of control that is designed to beat people, to condition them into accepting that humiliation and failure is the norm. Those who do not rebel against this lose any ability to think for themselves. The workers are robbed of power whilst the bosses have only a small amount of it and can only use it arbitrarily, which is to say, pointlessly.”

“We’re forced into absurd lives, against which the only sane response is to wage a guerilla operation of humor and lust and madness.” - Charles Bukowski, Post Office

The United States Postal Service has an image problem. The last time you walked into a post office, you probably thought that it needed a coat of paint. Envelopes and boxes may have been strewn about. Postal employees, perhaps sitting behind bullet-proof glass, served an ever-lengthening line of customers. Their uniforms, as well as that of your mail carrier, have been little-updated since 1992. “Postal worker” has unfairly become synonymous with an employee biding time until reaching a generous, taxpayer-funded retirement.

On top of its image, the post office has financial problems. Legally required to operate with government subsidies, the USPS has lost an average of $5 billion per year for a decade. Not only have these losses caused deficits in conflict with its mandate, but the attendant cost cutting has limited long-term capital spending. Which feeds into the image problems in a non-virtuous cycle.