Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: Technology doesn’t make postal service obsolete

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A local radio talk show host kept asking the question, “Can America do without the United States Postal Service?”

He then spent most of his show trying to convince his listeners that the Internet and such has made the USPS obsolete. Since I know that you can’t give me an instant opinion, like they do on Facebook or the radio, I’ll give you my opinion and let yours dangle out there somewhere.

First off, many of us baby boomers recall the day of typewriters and how hard it was correct a typo. Remember white out and going through reams of paper before coming up with a passable message that could be shared? And here I am today blissfully typing away on Microsoft Word with spellcheck, cut and paste… what a wonderful invention.

How about a ditto machine, with odiferous purple ink that bled onto the hands of whoever was operating the machine? Then along came the Xerox copy machine, then the fax machine, then cell phones, then the microchip… and the next thing you know everything became wireless which has led up to today’s ubiquitous smart phone.

Today everyone has a cell phone and everyone is connected to the net… but is everyone really connected to everything or does it just seem like that?

I think not, and both my loyal readers know that I’m a bit leery about privatizing government services. Granted, Fed EX and UPS are solid companies but they don’t deliver mail to my house, and quite frankly I doubt they are interested in picking up the daily home delivery slack if we did away with the USPS… it takes too much labor and thus erases their profit margins.

Now granted government has its faults, but when it comes to public service, profit margins are rarely considered. For instance, we don’t charge for police and fire don’t make money on each call; rather, we all pool our money and trust that we are just charged for the costs of their services, any profit margins, money left over from last year is usually used in the next year.

And besides that, I trust the USPS more than I do the internet, as indeed the amount of identity theft and fraudulent information that floods the world of electronic transfers and such is rather disconcerting.

I don’t buy off the net because I don’t want some marketeer studying my purchases so they can flood my computer with spam advertisements that they think will fit my shopping profile.

So I guess I’m just an old baby boomer who enjoys all the conveniences of smart phones, laptops and such, but I still prefer to use my checkbook over my debit card (they track your purchases too) and my important papers more than my flash drives, CDs, clouds, special computerized folders… so I hope the USPS can stave off its bleeding and keep delivering mail to my house, and that may require that their postage costs equal their real costs as well as doing what they can to reduce costs.

Besides, some of us boomers who have to carry phones and Ipads for work might be looking forward to the day when we can go offline and get away from all that hub-bub. For instance, if I ever get to retire I’m gonna take all that cyber stuff I’ve accumulated (except Microsoft Word) and dump it in a lake in Oklahoma… thus when the satellites wonder where I am they’ll have to start from where I was last tracked, not where I really might be…

Here’s hoping you can get away when you need to too… or at least disconnect when you want to.