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Increase in postage cost to come?


Strange
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Sorry everyone, I know the last thing we need right now is another political thread but my intention for this isn’t political discourse but to talk about how this will affect the collecting scene since so many of us buy online, sell online, etc.

Trump says the USPS will not receive federal aid unless they increase their prices, potentially 4x the current rates. He seems to have focused on Amazon here (goodbye free Prime shipping), but I’m sure this will affect eBay, small businesses, etc.

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Mods, I wasn’t sure whether this belonged in VG Economics since it’s related to shipping and many of us buy online, or if it belongs in Everything Else. I’m purely interested in discussing this as it relates to buying and selling video games, but please move this topic if you think it’s in the wrong place.

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Homebrew Team · Posted

As a USPS attorney working specifically in the rates section of the agency, it’s certainly an interesting time to be working there. I’m obviously not going to reveal any confidential information, but I will say this: we are not tearing our hair out over this, yet. There is a political battle over the nature and long-term health of the Postal Service just about every ten years but not much happens despite our requests to Congress for some reforms that will allow us greater capacity to control our finances. And despite these battles, we have some meaningful institutional protection: 1) we are one of the few agencies in government with an implied constitutional mandate to exist and 2) because the Postal Service is required to deliver to every address in this country, including parts of this country that make no business sense to deliver to, we will always have value in those areas because UPS and FedEx will use us to deliver their packages along that “last mile” for them and therefore we are as much necessary collaborators as much as we are competitors.

Based on the threats leveled over pricing, the president seems to want to target commercial prices, not retail. I’ve never sold anything on eBay so I don’t know what shipping arrangements exist, but if you’re just some person walking into a post office to mail a package to someone who bought your games on eBay, this doesn’t look like it would affect you. The threat appears to be leveled at the commercial level, where companies are mailing at a more massive scale and have a different range of postal products and access to equipment to obtain and apply postage to that more massive scale of goods.

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31 minutes ago, Scrobins said:

Based on the threats leveled over pricing, the president seems to want to target commercial prices, not retail. I’ve never sold anything on eBay so I don’t know what shipping arrangements exist, but if you’re just some person walking into a post office to mail a package to someone who bought your games on eBay, this doesn’t look like it would affect you. The threat appears to be leveled at the commercial level, where companies are mailing at a more massive scale and have a different range of postal products and access to equipment to obtain and apply postage to that more massive scale of goods.

That’s what I figured. I had seen some small business owners bellyaching about this so I was curious to what extent this would affect them.

This could be the end of buying retro on Amazon (which some people still do) and could surely make shipping modern physical releases from them or places like Best Buy a little pricier. Another push towards the Digital Future™️?

Edited by The Strangest
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https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/USPS_A_Sustainable_Path_Forward_report_12-04-2018.pdf

"Unfunded Liabilities and Debt

The USPS’s unfunded liabilities, including retiree health benefits, workers’ compensation claims, pension benefits, and debt to the Federal Financing Bank, restrict its ability to make necessary productive investments. At the end of FY 2018, the USPS’s total unfunded liabilities and debt were $139.6billion. Table 3 shows the composition of these liabilities. The USPS did not make required payments in FY 2018for normal retiree health benefits obligations ($3.7billion) or amortized costs for retiree health benefit unfunded liabilities ($815million).89The USPS did not make required amortized payments for Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS)unfunded liabilities ($958million) or Civil Service Retirement System(CSRS)unfunded liabilities ($1.4billion).90The USPS delayed making these payments to preserve liquidity. Further, with $13.2 billion in debt owed to the Federal Financing Bank, the USPS has used most of its statutory borrowing limit of $15 billion."

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/02/18/the-first-blow-against-public-employees/fdr-warned-us-about-public-sector-unions

One things the USPS is proposing is to stop prefunding retiree health benefits. The benefits were required by Congress to be prefunded starting in 2006 because of the looming unfunded liability. Seems like they haven't been funded anyway recently. Undoing the prefunding is a great way to kick the can farther down the road.

I think Trump's talking out of his ass about what the proper postage rate should be, but he's right that we need a real discussion on the current state of the USPS and what its true mandate should be. The Postal Clause in the Constitution gives Congress authority to regulate mail routes and designate post offices, but that in no way means we need the system as it now exists.

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They have been going after the USPS for years. They would love to get their grubby hands on the USPS and fuck it over the way they did the public school system.

They know that shipping is essential and if they were able to privatize they would be able to create an oligopoly and control prices.

The USPS is so much more efficient than businesses and a real shining spot of what the government is capable of.

The USPS was solvent until they changed the way the USPS was to account for pensions. They made the USPS use a much longer approach to pension funding that created a current expense rather than a long term one out of thin air. And the pensions funding approach is beyond anything private businesses are required to use. 

Now that revenue has gone down because advertising budgets are temporarily gone, they are using this crises to go after the post office. The post office has been chugging along being a responsible organization and the republicans tell them to fuck off about a bailout and yet airlines took all the money out of their companys instead of saving/reinvesting and they gave them a bail out. The cruise industry does its best not to pay u.s. taxes, they gave them a bail out.

Republicans should be ashamed of themselves.

Edited by Californication
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9 hours ago, Scrobins said:

: 1) we are one of the few agencies in government with an implied constitutional mandate to exist and 2) because the Postal Service is required to deliver to every address in this country, including parts of this country that make no business sense to deliver to, we will always have value in those areas because UPS and FedEx will use us to deliver their packages along that “last mile” for them and therefore we are as much necessary collaborators as much as we are competitors.

 

It is actually kind of surprising that no one has ever decided to leverage this mandate into the digital space for rural broadband.

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10 hours ago, The Strangest said:

Mods, I wasn’t sure whether this belonged in VG Economics since it’s related to shipping and many of us buy online, or if it belongs in Everything Else. I’m purely interested in discussing this as it relates to buying and selling video games, but please move this topic if you think it’s in the wrong place.

Should be okay in here; if it wasn't getting a lot of traffic then I would have moved it to Everything Else.

 

32 minutes ago, arch_8ngel said:

It is actually kind of surprising that no one has ever decided to leverage this mandate into the digital space for rural broadband.

Not sure you want government hands in your digital soup.   Also at a certain point you get into major logistical issues that can only be solved by satellites rather than cables.

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37 minutes ago, captmorgandrinker said:

 

Not sure you want government hands in your digital soup.   Also at a certain point you get into major logistical issues that can only be solved by satellites rather than cables.

At some point, just like with rural last mile shipping, you need non commercial involvement if those people are going to ever get meaningful services.

Doesn't necessarily require government installing and operating the service, but likely at least necessitates some level of subsidy that allows commercial entities to operate infrastructure in those areas.

 

What we are all going through right now is going to severely highlight the haves and have nots of broadband infrastructure, and how much worse off rural Americans really are in the digital world.

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Certain parties want to privatize the USPS and have been doing everything they can to run it into the ground. Upping the cost x4 to make it ineffective is a new one. I thought they had them when they did whole pension fund thing, but come rain or shine the USPS doesn't fuck around.

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Homebrew Team · Posted
1 hour ago, captmorgandrinker said:

Not sure you want government hands in your digital soup.   Also at a certain point you get into major logistical issues that can only be solved by satellites rather than cables.

I’d say it’s a question of degree. I’m not sure anyone would want nationalized broadband, but heavy government regulation and oversight is crucial for rollout and maintenance.

Apologies for the brief tangent but it seemed relevant to the discussion: In addition to working at the Postal Service now, I used to work for the FCC doing enforcement investigations (I was the line attorney working on Open Internet enforcement) and when it comes to communications infrastructure, it is the Wild West out there. A solid number of cell towers were built without proper authorization because the FCC is one of the few federal agencies that allows people to self-certify environmental and tribal compliance. Which as you can imagine means tons of people build towers to sell to communications companies and make $$$, knowing that by the time the government finds them 1) the damage is done and can’t be undone and 2) the FCC’s statute of limitations has likely already run out so they can’t do anything anyway.

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Homebrew Team · Posted
1 minute ago, arch_8ngel said:

Exactly.  It is a critical utility, not an entertainment luxury.

Unfortunately we are still fighting that political battle of whether or not to legally define it as a critical utility. It’s a necessary paradigm shift that the government needs to adopt in order for the law to catch up to technology.

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Homebrew Team · Posted
17 minutes ago, Scrobins said:

because the FCC is one of the few federal agencies that allows people to self-certify environmental and tribal compliance.

I can imagine that goes great.

Even more of a tangent, some cities allow for Architects to self-certify the building department review for permit.  It is insane.  In those cities, route 1. Submit to the building department for formal code review and permit, but takes forever like months and months.  Route 2.  Pinky promise your drawings, that you did, are all good and get a permit  WTF???

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2 minutes ago, arch_8ngel said:

Exactly.  It is a critical utility, not an entertainment luxury.

According to who?   Therein lies the rub. 

At some point, it will cross that line (perhaps now with the online schooling stuff), but it isn't yet.   Not sure if you've ever seen "truly out in the sticks", but I guarantee those guys don't find broadband to be a critical utility.

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Homebrew Team · Posted
2 minutes ago, captmorgandrinker said:

At some point, it will cross that line (perhaps now with the online schooling stuff), but it isn't yet.   Not sure if you've ever seen "truly out in the sticks", but I guarantee those guys don't find broadband to be a critical utility.

And that’s the problem because it should be critical out there, the failure to provide access to large rural swaths of the country is a good example of a market failure because there isn’t a good business case for rolling out broadband to rural America, which creates a class of have-nots based solely on where you live. And that is also exactly why the Postal Service is critical because the commercial package service companies will never deliver out there because it’s not worth the cost of building out their business on those areas.

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2 minutes ago, Scrobins said:

And that’s the problem because it should be critical out there, the failure to provide access to large rural swaths of the country is a good example of a market failure because there isn’t a good business case for rolling out broadband to rural America, which creates a class of have-nots based solely on where you live. And that is also exactly why the Postal Service is critical because the commercial package service companies will never deliver out there because it’s not worth the cost of building out their business on those areas.

Do you know if there was ever such a mandate for telephone lines?  If so, then there's a large portion of your infrastructure to piggyback off of.

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Homebrew Team · Posted

Interesting idea, I don’t know if there was a mandate for telephone connection nationwide, even though that is regulated as a utility. However I would say that the technology functioned differently and the country looked very different when the telephone was spreading (and the telegraph well before that). In order for the east coast and west coast to talk to each other, they had to connect through the rural stuff in the middle, which is not quite the same as it works today with internet connection.

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Homebrew Team · Posted

Back to postal talk though, if we move into mail-in balloting becoming the norm, there’s an opportunity for a new postal product specific to a ballot that would be pre-paid by a voter’s state and included certification and tracking so you could confirm your ballot arrived and was counted.

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1 hour ago, captmorgandrinker said:

According to who?   Therein lies the rub. 

At some point, it will cross that line (perhaps now with the online schooling stuff), but it isn't yet.   Not sure if you've ever seen "truly out in the sticks", but I guarantee those guys don't find broadband to be a critical utility.

According to reality.

Older adults out there might not understand what they are missing, but their kids are being solidified as exiles from the modern world and the potential income that comes from themselves and local employers having real broadband access.

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1 minute ago, arch_8ngel said:

According to reality.

Older adults out there might not understand what they are missing, but their kids are being solidified as exiles from the modern world and the potential income that comes from themselves and local employers having real broadband access.

The reality of someone that's lived in the city their entire life?   

There are very large pockets of other states west and south of you that have never used the internet and don't really need it.

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47 minutes ago, captmorgandrinker said:

The reality of someone that's lived in the city their entire life?   

There are very large pockets of other states west and south of you that have never used the internet and don't really need it.

The reality of the future economy and the ability to attract employers (though on that front, having an actual hospital is a more pressing concern, since if a major employer moved into an area they'd probably drop their own broadband infrastructure into place).

So while I don't doubt there are plenty of rural middle-aged-and-older that "don't really need it", not having that access in their area is a major deprivation of opportunity to their kids, relative to the rest of the country, and gives them essentially no ability to combat brain-drain.

 

Trying to spin this as "just the opinion of city folk" is a bit absurd, since it is an objective reality that there is a clear loss of relative competitiveness and economic opportunity.  

Edited by arch_8ngel
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  • 11 months later...

1st of April 2021 was a fitting date to make the USA their own shipping zone with big price hikes for small packages. Let me guess, small packages make up the largest percentage of all packages worldwide?😉

 

https://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/2021fee_change/index_en.html

 

One more price increase "sorry guys it's because of the flu thing ya know, we really didn't want to do it"

same thing in hong kong, all the packages i send to US have increased a good 20% over the last few weeks and it's not finished it seems

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