How Much Does Charles Lane Get Paid to Complain About Being Unable to Compete With the Post Office?

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Tuesday, 23 October 2012 04:57

I'm not kidding. Charles Lane's column in the Washington Post is quite literally complaining about the fact that the Washington Post stands to lose business to the postal service. Lane is upset that the postal service has contracted with a major distributor of ads to use the mail service to bring the material to people's houses. Previously this material was distributed largely by newspapers like the Washington Post, which means that the Post and other newspapers stand to lose from the deal.

Lane is openly upset about this. He wants the post office to go out of business because he has decided that it is technologically obsolete.

Of course any business will eventually become technologically obsolete if it doesn't adapt. Congress has largely put the post office into an impossible squeeze where it has insisted that it be run at a profit, along business lines, while at the same time it has consistently given into whiners from rival businesses, like Lane, who get upset any time they face being out-competed by this 19th century relic.

Businesses tend to get their way since they use their political connections to rein in the post office. For example, about a decade ago the postal service ran a very successful set of ads that highlighted the fact that its express mail was about a quarter of the price of the overnight delivery services of Fed Ex or UPS. The two competitors went to court to stop the ads. When the court told them to get lost, Fed Ex and UPS went to Congress and stopped the ads.

The post office used to provide banking services to much of the population. However, the wizards in the financial sector didn't like the competition, so they had it shut down.

Now we have Charles Lane and the Washington Post complaining that the technologically obsolete postal service is undercutting it in its ability to deliver junk ads to people's homes. Market economies are so tough!