Located just a few blocks> from my office, the main downtown Chicago post office provides a real-world example of the dangers when the profit motive is stripped from any productive enterprise.
Several months ago, the post office removed the mechanical vending machines used by many patrons to buy simple books of stamps. At the time, an employee explained to me it was getting too costly to constantly repair and restock the machines.
In its place, a single electronic Automatic Postal Machine, intended to print stamps and weigh packages was installed. While it boasted a rather clunky, Prodigy-like interface the machine could print postage, limiting the burden on many of those waiting in line to speak to an actual postal employee.
In theory it sounds ideal, but in reality, the machine has been broken for well over a month. Day after day, week after week, at the main post office in one of the biggest cities in the world, the machine sits completely dead, preventing customers from being able to quickly purchase postage. Now all patrons must wait in line, which, because of the inefficiency, can often stretch 20 or 30 persons deep.
Broken postal machine, Loop Station, Chicago>
Line em Up
Give the nature of the times, you might consider griping about a poorly run post office to be immaterial or foolish. But just imagine it s not a stamp you are waiting in line for, but a kidney transplant or life-saving MRI. With the push now to provide
for all Americans, that s exactly the frightening direction in which we are headed.
The post office is a government-protected monopoly, exempt from state and federal taxes and most government regulations. And absent the profit motive, there s no incentive to fix the stamp machine or improve the service. In fact, it s quite likely local workers are happy not fixing the machine, which poses a very real threat to their job security.
When it s a stamp, it s a mere inconvenience. When it s your life on the line a free market might not sound so bad after all.
Customer lines often stretch 20 persons in length. >
universal (read: socialist) health care
A Redux on Responsibility
President Obama is an accomplished orator, but even he can t seem to convince most Americans how you can call someone not paying their mortgage a responsible homeowner.
The president is a lawyer, Constitutional professor and senator. Surely he would have to admit that a responsible homeowner is actually one who is actually making his payments on time, not missing them altogether.
Who Obama is describing are actually deadbeats, or as Webster describes it, one who persistently fails to pay personal debts or expenses.
Indeed, even those who lived within their means and saved also have a new description: suckers.
Off we go again with yet another political outcry over how a bank is misusing TARP funds. In this case, the offending party is Northern Trust (NTRS),
Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) called it an idiotic abuse of taxpayer money, while Barney Frank (D., Mass.), along with 17 colleagues, sent a letter demanding the bank return the funds spent on the event. The company received $1.6 billion in taxpayer dollars, but according to a spokesman, did not seek the government s investment in the first place.
Sound familiar? And as we ve pointed out since the original uproar over AIG (AIG)
How savage has the current bear market been? According to research from Bespoke Investment Group, over the past 15 months, the average stock is down 53.16% with only 4.13% of stocks in the broad-based Russell 3000 actually registering a gain. There are zero diversified mutual funds higher for the year.
If the government s multitrillion dollar efforts to prop up the economy have been effective, you certainly haven t seen evidence of it in the markets. Yet they ll keep trying all on our dime.