What A Piece Of Work Is The Post Office
N. P. R. If there has been a lot of drama around the post office lately I, know it's like a political firestorm. Is You could almost see it. Shakespearean Okay Cardiff people might not know this, but you are this huge Shakespeare off. Right you're always quoting. Shakespeare. You Know Shakespeare really well, today I thought we do a Shakespearean show about the post office. Also I thought we could we in a little quiz to test your knowledge of the post office or Shakespeare of Frightening. Oh. No. I question yes. How many acts in a Shakespeare play five Ding Ding Ding things This is the indicator from planet money. I'm Stacey Vanik Smith and I'm Cardiff Garcia and I have no idea what's about to happen. Well, I'm going to tell you today on the show the post office in five acts. Also I test Cardiff's knowledge ten questions including some slightly modified Shakespeare quotes. And Right. After the break something postal this way comes hey, the players. yes. Do What is Hamlet some no I mean no. Something wicked this way comes to stop from Macbeth is. It is MC back off to a terrible start. This message comes from NPR sponsor Microsoft. The world has changed and Microsoft teams is there to help us stay connected teams is the safe and secure way to chat, meet call and collaborate to learn more visit Microsoft Dot com slash teams support also comes from fundraise. fundraise makes it easy for anyone to invest in high-quality real estate by building you a portfolio with their more than one billion dollars in assets get started at fundraise dot com slash indicator to have your first ninety days of advisory fees waived, Post. Office drama. Act One. What a piece of work is post office. Do you know that line? Is that from Hamlet? Yes that is. Good. Okay. After a good start. The Post Office is a really big deal in our country and can seem a little strange I mean I cannot remember actually the last time that I went to the post office. Yeah. Me Neither I just drop off my mail and the in one of those little boxes, the post office though it is actually written into the US Constitution says essential I think as electricity this is David Wessel. He's an economist at the Brookings Institution new really think it's as essential as electricity. I think it is yes why is that? because. The Postal Service is the one. Delivery Service that has obligated to serve a community the into some rural Rhode. So the post office has this mandate called the universal service obligation, which means it has to deliver mail and packages to everyone everywhere Fedex ups. They don't go a lot of places because it is not profitable, and that is why David Post Office is so important it connects everyone together Shakespeare by the way Cardiff very much understood the importance of the male. In fact, there's very famous moment in a very famous shakespeare play when a letter gets delivered late and has very tragic consequences it's the end of Romeo and Juliet. Very good. Very good. Giving you a star for question number four. All Right Act to frailty they name is pension obligations. That's definitely from hamlet referring to affiliate I believe yes. Frailty they name is woman I kinda like this version better. So the drama with the Post Office, all of this drama Wessel says, goes back to the early nineteen seventies. That was the moment when the post office went from just being a government entity to a business like kind of business congress decided that it should become a kind of strange quasi governmental corporation post office went from a government entity provided a public service to a public service that was. Supposed to operate like a business. So the post office has all these restrictions. For instance, it cannot charge just like whatever it wants for stamps. It also has that mandate to get packages to everywhere also when the post office was sort of semi privatize, there was this remnant leftover from the government cheese the postal worker pensions it's it's a lot of things the post office trying to contend with. At the same time, email happened online documents happened and the post offices prophets were just kind of destroyed. The post office has lost money every year since two thousand seven and it expects to continue to lose money for the next decade. So for years post masters have been trying to cut costs by reducing overtime closing post offices, getting rid of mailboxes, and just trying to find any way to make the business model work so far it's not working. Act Three climax of our play card. If the stuff that news is made of these are the things that dreams are made on. Yes, the stuff that dreams are made us that from the tempest. Yes tempest. Correct. because of covid nineteen and social distancing a lot of states combine relying on mail in ballots for the presidential election, and that would, of course, flood the post office with the most important kind of mail and postal service kind of freaked out about this and sent letters to states saying you know there might be mailed delays and some ballots might not make it by the deadline. and. Then a reporter asked President Donald Trump about it. If we don't make a deal that means you don't get the money that means they can't have universal mail in voting. Just can't have it. Crazy. So suddenly everyone is obsessed with the post offices business. Musicians of the trump administration is sabotaging the election through the post office, and then you know people start buying t shirts and stamps and all these products from the post office as a way to like support democracy it. It is quite shakespeare. It is experience. So you'll president trump has long complained about the money losing business model of the Post. Office and. Also, it's business relationship with Amazon. Trump has said many times that he thinks that Amazon should pay more for its use of the post office and getting it's good sort of all over to places like Real Wyoming of trump. It is worth noting president trump is not a big fan of Amazon CEO Jeff bezos. So that could be in the mix. Yeah. Definitely. I mean that's that's an understatement and you know the post office just kind of sitting there with all its like crazy business model like at to Mr President at through brute from Julius Caesar. Yes. At the moment of. Sure when Brutus Stabs Caesar now we're getting married that I like. Act, for the winter of the postal services discontent Richard, the third this is the winner of our discontent. Yes. Okay. What's the best case in the worst case scenario for the post office? The worst case scenario is that the post offices loses the confidence of the American people. They think it's become a arm political arm of Donald Trump. And the business evaporates even more quickly than is projected. This Cardiff would be pretty tragic outcome like people unable to get their medication rural communities cut off a presidential election thrown into question. It is not a good picture talk about steering towards a tragedy. The best case scenario of course, you know Shakespeare Oh comedies to. David says you know now that everyone's attention is on the post office sort of the business predicament it's in maybe there will finally be the will to try some things out. Now everybody cares about the postal service which just sort of like a crowd sourcing situation right yeah, act five obe rave new post office. Brave new post office given the whole quote there. Oh brave new world that has such people in it. God preview world has, is it twelfth? Night? No it is the tempest. That's the tempest. Are we going get to the history plays. I cannot say, okay do you think there's going to be a post office in like? Twenty years. Do. You think we I don't think it's viable business in spite of everything. No, I didn't say I think it's a viable business I think. That valuable public service that we will find a way to preserve. Even if it doesn't work as a business and for the record if David, thinks that all of this sound and fury. That's definitely Macbeth Macbeth. Speech that the sound and fury will mean a lot of scrutiny and everybody paying attention and that the chances of tampering with the mail or mail in ballots will actually be pretty minimal as a result. Not, just signifying nothing. Actually signifying quite a lot signifying quite a lot but until then you know unto the breach. Henry the fifth. History play. Thank you. Thank you. Okay so let's see I. Think I threw an extra one in there for you. So out of eleven questions, I, think you got. Nine Correct. Tough game, but that was fine. We should keep. Is Episode of the indicator was produced by nick found fact check by Britney Cronin the indicators edited by Pani. Hirsch. is a production of NPR.