Snail Mail and GM: A Billion Here, A Billion There?

We live in exciting times. Sarah Palin is going rogue. You don’t dare go to a Cleveland Browns game without wearing a bag over your head.  And as the economy starts to wean itself off life support, the U.S. Postal Service and GM are still losing billions of dollars. Ah, health care reform anyone?

Actually, the story about GM offers some glimmer of hope. Despite losing $1.2 billion in the third quarter, many point to this as a sign of progress for GM, a company that became a ward of Ma and Pa Taxpayer earlier this year. And honestly — I’m rooting for GM. There are still thousands and thousands of jobs at stake, and I continue to believe that we need manufacturing in this country to be competitive internationally and to provide good-paying jobs here at home. To paraphrase the remarks of former Firestone CEO John Nevin from decades ago — we don’t survive as a nation of burger flippers.

But what about the Postal Service? The snail mail guys and gals lost some $3.8 billion last year — even when lopping off some 40,000 jobs, according to an article in USA Today. Clearly, this is an organization with a bankrupt business model. It doesn’t appear able to compete with FedEx and UPS and so on. And outside of magazines, catalogs, bills, marketing material and political ads, there isn’t much else that works its way into the home or business mailbox these days. Sigh.

I know that I am fighting the last war here, but I still recall working in an environment where we read letters and magazines, took time to craft thoughtful memos and proposals, and spent some time in quiet reflection without the constant ping of e-mail or the chirping of Twitter. And I believe that contributed to a more civil workplace — and society.

For instance, here’s an e-mail conversation exchange from yesterday.

Me: Sorry I can’t attend the meeting next week. I was looking forward to visiting with you. Hope you and XXX are getting ready for a most enjoyable holiday season. Best wishes.

Reply: Okay.

Hmm. Was it something I said?

Oh well.

I like snail mail — and it sure helped keep a lot of people employed sorting and delivering the dead-tree messages. Gee, almost like the newspaper industry. I digress.

Anyway, I’m mad enough and concerned enough about jobs that I’m going to do something about it.

I’m going to write a letter. Put a stamp on it. And mail it.

I’m going rogue.


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