October 15, 2019 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Enjoy Your Local Post Office… NOW!:

I think Americans are unfairly and even wrongly apathetic about whether or not the U.S. Postal Service survives into the 21st century. Waiting in line at any of the three Santa Monica branches I frequent (5th and Arizona, 1217 Wilshire, 2720 Neilson Way) one is tempted to point at trends and conclude that the day of the mailed letter, the brown paper-wrapped box from Grandma for your birthday, the card with $5 in it for your high school graduation… all of that is vanishing Americana.

But should it be that way? Right off the bat I would argue that citizens should resist having expensive overnight package delivery becoming our only means of getting a parcel from here to there. If you think the way you’re being pushed around by oil companies at the gas pump is antithetical to democracy, wait until you pay $50 to send Silly Putty and an Etch-A-Sketch to your nephew for his birthday. Unless that’s what it already costs to absolutely positively get it there overnight.

Which brings us to our own responsibility for what’s happening to the U.S. Postal Service: We’ve become too convenience-reliant. Convenience-addicted might be more accurate. Once overnight service was introduced to American business, there was no getting out from underneath it. A client could simply insist that some physical thing be in their possession by the next day. Not because there had in fact been a marked increase in the speed at which business was transacted, but because Fed Ex and the others allowed you to push people’s buttons that way. “What fun! I just told San Diego we HAD to have that thing by tomorrow noon!”

This became the template later on when e-mail and e-mail to phones were standardized. “Send it to me now.” We felt elevated, taller, bigger because we could insist on having things arrive at our end whether time was a factor or not. Rapid delivery of materials became a measure of respect and business acumen, although you can get blueprints delivered overnight for a project that is later held up for months or even years. And there’s an undeniable element of vanity in all of this high-speed delivery; one that was rarely present when, say, a letter from a friend conveniently arrived in your mailbox in its own sweet time.

While it feels generational to argue the merits of a written letter delivered by postal mail over the immediacy and attached pictures of one’s cat provided by e-mail, I found myself a bit depressed recently when I overheard a conversation about the “point” of mailing Christmas cards. I know my own “point” for doing it, but those in the conversation were right: To mail holiday cards is now a quaint custom. However, sitting and listening to a musical holiday card in your e-mail can feel a lot like answering the door at 8 am Saturday to chat with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In both cases, the intentions are good, but…

So there we have a look at the current environment. Now: “Five Reasons We Want to Save the U.S. Postal Service.”

One: Like General Motors after their big fat bailout I believe the USPS is trying. I’m a fan of their “If it fits, it ships” boxes that actually work for much of my personal shipping. This one service product alone, to me, indicates that the USPS still has something to give. 

Two: You honestly can’t drive everything to and from the Internet. The holiday catalogs our household received this past season tell me that there’s still a need to prompt commerce with hard-copy mailings; that you can’t just set up a site and expect that shoppers will find you and respond. Yes, there is a serious uptick in online sales. But what is it that is first pushing customers to those sites? Television, the box with sound that sits in our living rooms, is also something of a tech throwback now. But we appear to need it to tell us about things that we then pursue online.

Which gets us to Three: Sorting and Division equals Freedom. If every single interaction of business and communication becomes Internet/Smartphone driven… can you hope that those involved will give you unbiased access? For all their old-school slowness and bother, paper newspapers and postal mail still operate as soldiers defending our right to know. There’s a function of sorting and dividing done by old school media that you could ask your computer/phone to do for you. But that will include whatever prioritization of information and advertising the corporate parent of your information delivery system wishes to impose. I’m saying, a simple mailed letter asking you to fight the Keystone pipeline might not ever make it to your e-mail box if one day next week three merged super corporations own everything. 

Four: Without the USPS delivery of parcels, flats, and letters we’re at the pricing mercy of corporations. If you enjoy how they’re treating you now, fine.

Five: People. People need the jobs, and people need to get out of their homes and be in social situations that are defined by civility and common courtesy. We’re starting to think we can literally throw credit cards at others and be on our way, because we’re all priority customers. I’m arguing that we should have the shared experience of standing in a line every once and a while with our neighbors and calmly wait our turn. And if I’m right about this, then the Post Office is our nation’s premiere provider of this needed service.

in Opinion
Related Posts

The Myth of “Public” Art in Santa Monica

February 8, 2019

February 8, 2019

Over the past few years, the Stanton MacDonald Wright murals at the entrance to Santa Monica City Hall have stirred...

Beausoleil: First Parole Test for Newsom

February 10, 2019

February 10, 2019

Not many Californians under 60 can recall just who is the 71-year-old Bobby Beausoleil and what evils he did back...

AI in the Year 2020… Almost

February 11, 2019

February 11, 2019

By Nektar Baziotis In 1966 Gene Rodenberry’s “Star Trek” made its television debut on NBC. Audiences young and old were captivated...

Is Santa Monica’s Heart for Sale?

February 15, 2019

February 15, 2019

Note from SMa.r.t.: This article, in a longer form, was originally published four years ago but is still as pertinent...

Column: Adapting to Westside Vacancies

February 18, 2019

February 18, 2019

By Avi Sinai We all see the vacant storefronts around the Westside and it begs the question – why are...

SMa.r.t. Column: Gridlocked Best Intentions

February 22, 2019

February 22, 2019

On any given evening (and especially weekends) pay a visit to north-bound 2nd Street between Broadway Avenue and Santa Monica...

No Excuses: Stop the Crime Wave

March 1, 2019

March 1, 2019

My mother turned 91 last Saturday. Happy Birthday, Mom! She has walked the streets of Santa Monica her whole life...

Column: Can we Solve Westside Traffic with more Housing Development?

March 5, 2019

March 5, 2019

About the author: Avi Sinai is the principal of HM Capital, a Los Angeles company specializes in hard money real...

Open Space… Is There Any Left?

March 9, 2019

March 9, 2019

Yes there is. Small as it is, there is about 2.5 acres in the heart of downtown waiting to be...

Letter to Editor: Former Mayor on Voting Rights Case

March 13, 2019

March 13, 2019

By Paul Rosenstein Former Mayor of Santa Monica I hope the judge’s order for district elections is stayed during the...

I Eat, Therefore I Risk:

June 24, 2010

June 24, 2010

Let’s start with the water bottle. Because that’s just such a strange modern mentality to begin with… the notion that...

Hometown Hero: Ted Winterer:

June 24, 2010

June 24, 2010

2010 will be the first time Ted, his wife, the designer Beck Taylor, their children, Eleanor and Steele, and their...

There’s LUCE, and Then There’s “loose”…:

July 2, 2010

July 2, 2010

Class stratification doesn’t have to be part of the dialogue about every single thing in America. Or does it? You...

SMa.r.t. OpEd: A Sense of Place:

September 2, 2016

September 2, 2016

By SMa.r.t In the mid-19th century, America’s West held the promise of cheap land and riches. In some ways, this...

Insurance Arrangement Shows PUC Hasn’t Change:

November 7, 2015

November 7, 2015

State commissions, like people and corporations, rarely change unless they’re given strong motivation; sometimes change has to be forced on...