Monthly Archives: June 2011

Why We Work

This is a salt mine. It is the perfect metaphor for our jobs, or perhaps our work environment. For most of us, it’s what we confront every working day. Why do we subject ourselves to the daily grind of working in the metaphorical salt mine, rife with danger, low wages, and an uncertain future?

The answer is obvious…..

For this:

This is not a salt mine. This is a nice house in Provence where my brother recently spent a week, which easily provides enough justification for working in the salt mine, for the man, for however long it takes to get there.

The Post Office

Like its first cousin, Amtrak, the United States Postal Service is battling to stay alive. Lately, news reports have focused on the $8 Billion loss the post office faces this year and management’s fevered attempts to wring costs from the system. The latest idea does not impress the Overlords in Congress.

In its latest bid to shave costs, the Postal Service has said it will stop contributing to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), a move it says will save roughly $800 million this fiscal year.

But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) said the mail carrier’s move was just a drop in the bucket. Issa and Collins both noted that the Postal Service is expected to run a deficit of more than $8 billion this year.

Issa, who was troubled by a recent contract for the postal workers union, said the service’s financial situation “would not be tolerated in a private company.”

“USPS needs fundamental structural and financial reforms to cut costs and protect taxpayers from an expensive bailout,” the chairman of the House Oversight Committee added. 

Representatives for USPS have said they are not seeking a bailout, with the service declaring Wednesday that it had reduced spending by $12 billion over the last four fiscal years — getting rid of 110,000 positions in the process.

In March, the mail carrier — which does not get tax dollars for operating expenses — said it was eliminating 7,500 jobs as part of a push for $750 million in yearly savings. 

But the Postal Regulatory Commission has also said that the USPS was overestimating how much money it would save by scrapping Saturday delivery. Collins and other lawmakers have said that change would disproportionately hurt rural Americans.

When I read this report, the first thought that occured was to ask why the USPS is losing money, laying off employees, and generally acting like an ossified, union-based sinkhole when ALL IT DOES IS DELIVER JUNK MAIL!

Most of my bills are delivered via e-mail, as are the corresponding payments. Cover letters and resumes from the last job hunt were similarly handled. Even meeting notices, doctors appointments, and social invitations are now delivered via the InterTube. The vast majority of items deposited in my earthly mailbox are junk – bulk mail flyers, credit card solicitations, and otherwise impersonal envelopes addressed to "Current Resident". Clearly, given the quantity of unwanted mailings, the post office is not charging the paper spammers enough to deliver their product.

Who needs snail mail?

Apparently the majority of the postal service’s customers are the junk mailers – the spammers of snail mail. And, in the rate structure of the USPS, guess who pays the lowest rates? This is idiocy, I tell you.

In the natural world, this beast would likely have been rendered extinct in the early years of this century, freeing up the niche for something else that can survive and prosper in this environment. In our world of political cronyism, however, evolution is regarded as the enemy of entrenched interests and change is fought with every tool at the disposal of the vested interests.

I predict a collision in the next year or two….

Did I Tell You I Got A Job?

Yep. The folks at my school received a request from a local business for some names and, bless their hearts, two faculty members forwarded the information to me. An hour later, I sent a cover letter and resume; 20 minutes later I had a phone interview, and a few weeks later commenced working.

I won’t pretend that the transition from student to worker bee was a snap – far from it. My body and mind had, without any awareness on my part, adapted to the “rigor” of academia. That is to say, if I was tired, I slept, If I was hungry I ate, If I wanted to exercise, I did. Yes, I studied hard, for hours at a time, but…….it’s not quite the same.

Perhaps more challenging has been the relationships with the employees at the firm. You see, for many years of my working life I was the top dog. I grew comfortable in the knowledge that I was, mostly, the final stop for problems and solutions. Well, kiss that goodbye. I am the bottom rung on the ladder; the new kid on the block, the tyro of the firm. I make mistakes, I have to ask for help, and my actions are fairly closely supervised. It’s a new day, baby!