My Post Office Nightmare


From Jonathan Thompson,

Regular readers of this blog are all too familiar with government inefficiency. In a recent post by Jason Williams, we all got to see just how the government makes regular Oregonians jump through hoop after hoop. Well, Oregon government is not unique in this respect I recently had a run in with our federal government that still has me scratching my head.

I needed to open a Business Reply Mail (BRE) Account, you know, one of those accounts that lets people send you mail and you pay the postage. Should be pretty simple, just open an account, get a number and put some money in it. Wow was I wrong about what the United States Postal Service had in store for me. Let me tell you a little about a system that would make Rube Goldberg himself proud.

When I walked into my local post office and told them I wanted to open a BRE account the man behind the counter looked at me kind of funny and then disappeared into the back. Was he going to get me the paperwork? Nope. When he returned he told me I had to go across town to the main post office. Fine. Off I went. When I arrived at the main post office I got to wait in line for about 25 minutes (for reference, last time I was at FedEx, there was no line). When I got to the counter the lady told me I was at the wrong part of the main post office. I needed to go around back, through the distribution center, around the fleet of trucks, over the river and through the woods. With my hiking backpack and sleeping bag, I was on my way to Bulk Mail Services.

My arrival there was met with absolutely no line! I was in heaven. I listened to a very nice lady explain my options and what documentation would be required. It was interesting to note to open this account I needed more documentation than what was required for an Oregon Driver License (prior to the recent reforms). But I digress. I was now headed back to my office to collect the necessary tax numbers, envelope dimensions and DNA that would be required. Once the forms were filled out, I returned to the backcountry to submit them and pay the fee. Could I pay the fee at Bulk Mail Services? No way, that would be too easy. I needed to get copies of the paperwork and go back to the front of the main post office. I paid the fee and told the gentleman I would like to put some money in the account. He told me “Sir, we can’t take money for your account here; that needs to be done at your local post office.” Yes, sports fans, we are headed back across town.

In the meantime, I waited two weeks for the approval of our account. The account that I was told would be ready in 3 to 5 business days. When I went back to my dear friends at Bulk Mail Services to see what was taking so long they pulled my file and stood around looking at it for a few minutes. I was then told it looks like we collected your information and your money but nobody actually got around to entering your information into the system. Don’t worry; we will take care of that today.

Finally, permit number in hand I am off to put money into my newly created account. Yes, we are headed back across town because remember, only certain post offices can take certain types of money. At my local post office I politely told the gentleman behind the counter what I wanted to do and again, he disappeared into the back. This time, he returned with the postmaster herself. Now we were making progress! No less than three forms, two receipts and 25 minutes later we were in business.

In summary, I spent three weeks trying to open an account, get a number and deposit money. Something a privately run bank can do for me in about 15 minutes. The next time I am in a discussion about waste in government and someone challenges me to “give them an example,” I am going to tell them to pull up a chair. We are then going to walk through the Rube Goldberg Machine that is the United States Postal Service.

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  • Jerry

    What do you expect from people who have absolutely no accountability whatsoever for anything they do or don’t do?

  • Alan

    The lines. Oh the long lines that never end.

  • Dylan Amo

    I remember when they made you sit through a class to get your BRM permit. Oyi.

  • eagle eye

    Suggestion: see if you can do this online.

    Go to:

    usps.com

    Click on “Reply Mail”. Lots of information and purported links to get going.

    I have no idea if this will work, having no interest in a reply mail account.

    However, I have found that signing up for “hold mail” online when I am on trips is easy, convenient, and effective, and much easier than doing it by phone or in person.

    • eagle eye

      P.S. First go to usps.com, then click on “all products and services”, then click on “Reply mail”.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps dean will arrive and explain how in theory this is the most efficient way to handle it.

    • dean

      Not my area of expertise. I will say however that with tens of thousands of people dead and homeless from cyclones and earthquakes, billions of people living on less than $2 a day, and 2 ongoing wars in which American soldiers are dying and being maimed, I find it hard to get too worked up about Jonathon’s travails with the Postal Service. Deal with it.

      • Steve Buckstein

        Dean, different people get worked up over different things of course. But if disasters, poverty and wars are excuses for a government agency to fail to meet customer expectations, then I’m sure you’ll agree that the least we can expect is for the government to end its prohibition against competitors trying to serve us better.

        • dean

          Steve…I did not mean my comment as an excuse for the Postal Service. And I don’t have a problem with opening government services to competition as long as that does not end up high grading (creaming off the profitable bits and leaving the unprofitable yet still necessary behind).

  • Alan

    Access to affordable mailing services is a fundamental right. We need a tax credit for BRM training at community colleges to help. Jonathan is our poster boy for this new legislation.

  • Bob Mulroy

    Sounds like our oddessy to get our mailbox placed when we were building a home.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Although I don’t do bulk mail, or the BRE thing, I do have quite a bit of shipping experience in my line of work.

    The post office in the US is vastly inefficient, even though it is the primary offender in what Dean refers to as “high grading” (skimming off the profitable, and leaving the unprofitable but necessary behind). It does this by federal law, which makes it quite a bit more egregious since it is done at gun point, rather than by competition, which would be the case in private industry.

    That said, the USPS is one of the most efficient by far of any postal service in the world. I say this as someone who does between $100 and $200 a day business with the US postal service and slightly more with UPS. As I only ship internationally with the USPS (due to the “high grading practice” they engage in, they make themselves the only game in town on international shipments that are not time critical) I have quite a bit of interaction with foreign postal services, particularly Europe. I can tell you that the inefficiency of most European postal services is unreal. I mean these guys literally can not find a standard shipping manifest on the outset of a box. I get this weekly from Europe:

    “Hallo?”

    “Hello, I’m calling about #123456789, you need a shipping manifest and invoice?”

    “Oui, we do, that documentation is required by regulations, you have not filled out the correct paper work, you silly American stupid head thing”

    “Can you look on the side of the box please?”

    “Oui, we did, but it not enough”

    “Its three copies, that is all that is required by international law”

    “Ahhh, yes it is, but we need another copy silly American stupid head”

    “Oh ok, Ill fax it over, I mean I guess it makes sense, its easier for me to look up the invoice, and fax it than for you to simply Xerox the one that you have there, Il fax it to you in a jiffy kind sir”

    “OK, make sure you do, because we require this right away or there will be big trouble”

    “Would it be just to much of a coincidence if your name actually was something like Jacques, or Pierre kind customs official sir at the other end of the phone?”

    “Sacre Bleau!!!!????, but how did you know this? Evil psychic American bug person who runs around and screws up the whole world with your horrible cooking”

    “Just a wild guess, Ill be faxing ya Jacques! Thanks, I love you!”

    “Good bye, American ninny”

    I really do have that conversation on a weekly basis with these guys, especially in Belgium and Luxemburg. God knows why.

    So, in the end, I do get a little cranky that the USPS engages in the “high grading” at gunpoint (federal law, same thing) thing, but all in all they work better, and frankly harder, than most branches of government. Given the fact that they actually do something useful and beneficial, as opposed to most other branches of government, that’s a good thing. I, for one, am generally quite thankful that the vast majority of our government essentially throws our money out the window in an unending bailing of waste and idiocy. If you think about it, would you really want government working with more efficiency? When was the last time government did anything good or beneficial for you?

    “Oh hi Rupert From Springfield, we are from the building permit department, we saw you had a permit for an addition and we had some staff members who with some slack time so we thought we would come and help pound nails”

    You think this is going to happen?

    • dean

      Rupert…I don’t ship much in my business, but had the postal experience in Europe trying to ship things back here. Maddeningly officious and unhelpful people, but reasonably polite. I agree our USPS is a model of service efficiency by comprison.

      But on your larger point…”When was the last time government did anything good or beneficial for you?

      How about daily clean water delivery (if one lives in a city or within a water district)? Sewege transport and treatment? Teaching your or your neighbors kids? Keeping the peace (from mediation to police to corrections)? Hunting down terrorists? Daily diplomacy to negotiate treaties, trade agreements (that facilitate your busines I imagine,) and regulations to prevent over fishing in intenrational waters (not effective enough I admit). Cleaning, patching, and repairing your roads? Inspecting the bridges you drive on? Inspecting your food to keep e coli and mad cow out of it?

      Don’t make a Monty Python mockery of yourself (Hit a search for: Life of Brian, “What Have the Romans Ever Done For Us?” routine.)

      Yes…I really do want government working efficiently and well. modern life as we know it would not be possible without it.

      And no…the building inspector will not help you pound nails, since this is not their job. They will help prevent shoddy construction hidden behind the sheetrock, and will insure that the sill plate is bolted to the foundation in the event of that subduction zone earthquake that is a ticking time bomb for the Northwest. Oh…and they will show up to rescue those who need rescuing post earthquake, and will rebuild the damaged public infrastructure so that modern life can resume.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >How about daily clean water delivery

        I’m on a well, big deal.

        >Sewege transport and treatment?

        Sorry, septic tank here.

        >Teaching your or your neighbors kids?

        I home schooled their first years, then private school, which is cheaper than government schools by a huge margin.

        Considering the sucess of home schooled students, this is a particularly poor example to butress your point Dean.

        Next?

        >Keeping the peace (from mediation to police to corrections)?

        You mean like building jails they cant run because they have to over pay on the construction and then over pay on staffing?

        >Hunting down terrorists?

        Wait a second, now you are for this? I thought you was agin it? Which is it ya little whipper snapper?

        I will say Defense is the one branch of government that when they get the call, someone does seem to answer the phone. They do tend to get results as well. That’s saying a lot considering how much your side fights against them at every step of the way.

        >Daily diplomacy to negotiate treaties, trade agreements

        Well, there is NAFTA, that was good, as well as the pull out of Kyoto, also good, ok, point taken here.

        >Cleaning, patching, and repairing your roads?

        At absurdly inflated cost charged through absurdly inflated gas taxes.

        >Inspecting the bridges you drive on?

        You would be talking about all the bridges that have been found cracking in this state because they were not built right in the first place, or not maintained? Or are you talking about that bridge that collapsed in Minnesota?

        Hey, how about the Amtrak line in the North East, Boston to NY, that they replaced 30 years ago and now find, gee, its only going to last half as long as we thought and now have to replace again? How about the amazing school buildings, which seem to need to be replaced after 30 years?

        Anyone here ever heard of some guy building a major building with a life span of thirty years in the private sector?

        You in the back…..huh? what’s that? no, Im not counting buildings in China.

        >Inspecting your food to keep e coli and mad cow out of it?

        Um, my daughter got e coli a few years back. Spent about a week in the hospital. Hmm, that one didn’t work so well.

        Look, government does crap in these jobs, over priced BS. Why? well for one, thank a couple of fellas named Davis and Bacon. These two clowns assured that all these services, on a federal level, would be outrageously over priced. With “little Davis-Bacon” states it is assured on the state level as well. This little racist relic really captures the absurdity of any argument that government operates with any efficiency whatsoever.

        Care to talk about the cost per mile for Lite Rail up in Portland? $200 million dollars a mile

        Note to Dean – Insert comment about Iraq cost here.

        Note back to Dean – How come you are all on about how crazy expensive Iraq is in every other post, and yet now you seem to be arguing government is a model of efficiency?

        >Don’t make a Monty Python mockery of yoursel

        I’m not, I’m making one of you. Don’t get all cranky about it and start with the lame insults like this one just because you feel your life would be impossible without government to run it for you. Failing that, at least don’t assume the same weakness in others, you might not be able to live with the amount of government we have, that doesn’t mean its true for all.

        >And no…the building inspector will not help you pound nails, since this is not their job. They will help prevent shoddy construction hidden behind the sheetrock

        >Yes…I really do want government working efficiently and well. modern life as we know it would not be possible without it.

        Really? It would be impossible?

        Well, since you are so hung up on building inspectors, lets go with that example.

        Sorry Dean, hate to pull rank on you but I was in the construction industry for 15 years. Most large building projects have no government inspectors at all.

        What’s that you say? No building inspectors on large projects? Then who assures the quality of construction?

        Private building inspectors, hired by the project manager, that’s who.

        The reason for this is, yet again, the vast inefficiency of government. On a large building project you simply cant afford to have hundreds of peoples work being held up waiting for some ridiculous county official who will show up whenever the hell he feels like it that day, if he shows up at all.

        Modern life would be quite possible, and quite productive, and quite a bit cheaper without the huge cost over runs, shoddy construction, and absurd wage regulations that govern any government project. Anyone with any experience in the building industry, which is the bulk of what you cited, would tell you that.

        • dean

          Rupert….
          I am also on a well. In a declining groundwater area, and we had to go deeper a few years ago at high cost. The government (dang them anyway ) liimits agricultural water rights in our area, but by law can’t regulate domestic water rights. New neighbors = new wells = further decline in groundwater = a $10K expense to Dean. Could have used MORE regulation on that one.

          Oh…a septic tank. Yes, I have one of those to. And when they pump out the sludge…where does that go? And what about the 80% or more of Oregonians who are on municipal water and sewer systems? Are they chopped liver? Are you turning into some sort of rural elitist?

          OK…we don’t need public schools. Hell…before the 20th century hardly anyone knew how to reed or rite and they got along just fine.

          Yes…our military answers the call of duty. But I just called the Fish and Wildlife Service this morning, and lo and behold someone picked up the phone there as well, and gave me the results I was looking for. It happens.

          “My side” does not fight our military. “My side” just passed yet more funding (to be borrowed from our grandkids) for the 2 wars we are in, and added a slew of benefits to the soldiers who fight in that war. “Your side” (McCain and Bush) argued against those benefits, and Bush plans to veto the entire bill just to make his point.

          “My side” also agrees with Churchill that jaw jaw is better than war war, but “your side” seems to disagree about that.

          You are right again. Close the jails and free the perps. We can arm ourselves and take care of the problem on our own (unless the freed perps get better guns perhaps).

          “Inflated” gas taxes? The last time they were raised in Oregon was 1993. 2007 gas tax revenues were 3 million $$ LOWER in 2006 than they were in 2007. Where is the “inflated” part in that? What is inflating is the cost of oil, not that taxes we pay on gas.

          Yes…the bridges found cracking by state inspectors. Those are the ones. You prefer they not be inspected? Or maybe they could be inspected by minimum wage workers with 2 weeks training in bridge engineering? That would save some money.

          How about that private rail line from Coos Bay to the Valley that the private company cannot keep maintained and in operation at all?

          Yes….there are a lot of privately built shoddy buildings out there with effective life spans of 30 years or less. Many many of them nfortunately, some sided by materials purchased from PRIVATE company LP that are moldering in the rain.

          My “life” would not be impossible. Just shorter and less comfortable perhaps. OUR LIVES would become primitive and Hobbesian absent most of the array of government services you seem to take for granted or think we don’t need or want.

          Pulling rank is fine, but as a landscape architect I’m also involved in construction, albeit a different aspect of it, and I worked as a (pretty bad) carpenter for a few years. Okay…large building projects are privately inspected. What about medium and small construction projects, which are probably 95% of all projects? Like the houses most of us live in? Should we go to caveat emptor and save a few quid?

          Your last paragraph sounds like you are shifting your argument to more efficient, better government, which contradicts your previous post. For the record, a more efficient government is something I have no argument with.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            Hmm, not much point in commenting on a lot of this malarkey, lets just pick a few:

            >”My side” does not fight our military.

            Could have fooled me. Or was Harry Dean a republican when he said the war was lost a year or so ago?

            >”My side” just passed yet more funding (to be borrowed from our grandkids) for the 2 wars we are in,

            Awwww geee, now you are all concerned about “the kids”? Come on, don’t expect me to fall for that one, not when you are interested in the government running health care.

            >”Your side” (McCain and Bush) argued against those benefits, and Bush plans to veto the entire bill just to make his point.

            Gee, ya think opposition to this could have been you guys, yet again, loaded it up with pork, such as extending unemployment benefits, when unemployment is currently going down?

            We all know the drill, extend unemployment benefits before an election when a Republican is president. That way more people stay on longer, so more unemployed people, that worsens the economy and “Mr. 57 States” gets elected. They did it Clinton vs. Bush 1, same play all over again.

            >”My side” also agrees with Churchill that jaw jaw is better than war war, but “your side” seems to disagree about that.

            Kosovo anyone?

            “Inflated” gas taxes? The last time they were raised in Oregon was 1993.

            What are you on? Are you smoking dope? They raised gas taxes in Eugene about five years ago, and then again about 18 months ago, same in Springfield.

            >How about that private rail line from Coos Bay to the Valley that the private company cannot keep maintained and in operation at all?

            Cant? You mean won’t, because its not profitable. If it were government, they would have reopened it, probably at $200 million a mile, stuck us all with the bill, and been on their merry and destructive way.

            Look, whatever you do, if you are talking about government doing things well, never bring up trains, they notoriously stink at running trains, take a look at the losses with Amtrak, failing that try to conceive of the idiot who thought $200 million a mile made since for any system of railroad tracks that was not diamond encrusted.

            >My “life” would not be impossible.

            What are you talking about, you just said in your previous post it would be impossible.

            Now it isn’t?

            And I’m supposed to take your argument seriously?

            >Should we go to caveat emptor and save a few quid?

            Sure, if you feel like building your own house, I have no problem with that. If I build it, live in it, and it falls down on me, my problem.

            If you build it, sell it to me, and I don’t have the good sense to have it inspected, again, my problem.

            This is an incredibly weak argument, as there are no shortage of houses built long before the building code (I think implemented in this state in the 70’s)that are bought and sold every day. No building inspectors for them during construction, it sure is caveat emptor there, and seems to work fine.

            >Your last paragraph sounds like you are shifting your argument to more efficient, better government, which contradicts your previous post.

            And who knows from where you draw that conclusion.

            Good lord man, try and think a little before you rattle off this sort of ninnydom.

          • dean

            Rupert…you deliberately talk past or misinterpret what I said, but I’ll stick to what was actually said if you don’t mind, from the bottom up.

            Rupert said: “Modern life would be quite possible, and quite productive, and quite a bit cheaper without the huge cost over runs, shoddy construction, and absurd wage regulations that govern any government project.”

            Dean concluded that meant you wanted fewer cost overruns, better construction, and an absence of wage regulations. Not that you wanted a complete absence of government projects 9i.e. highways, bridges, sewege treatment plants, etc…. I apologize for misreading you. A complete absence is apparently what you meant.

            Okay…no building inspections needed. Caveat emptor it is. Should there be a building code? And why am I picturing third world shantytowns emerging at city boundaries? What a wonderful world this could be.

            I said “modern life as we know it.” I did not say “life.” You could have selected just “modern” and your statement would make even less sense….as in Dean said “modern as we know it would be impossible.”

            Since I do not live in Eugene or Springfield, I was unaware of your increased local tax burden. I was referring to the state of Oregon gas tax, not raised since 1993 and declining in real dollars ever since.

            Yes…passenger trains are unprofitable just about everywhere. So are roads, which is why they keep trying to raise your gas tax. And why there are few or no private highways in the US.

            Kosovo? Please to explain. By the way…”better to jaw jaw…” does not mean one NEVER goes to war war. It means, try talking first, and keep talking even when it becomes tedious. Because war should be reserved as a last option.

            The Bush veto, and McCain’s opposition is predicated on increasing veteran’s benefits, because doing so will entice soldiers to leave and go to college after their term is up. Unemployment is a red herring.

            Who is “Harry Dean?” From your own side of the aisle, George Will, Pat Buchanan, Collin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, Jim Baker, and many others have pointed out that Iraq is lost (in so many words) and we ought to cut our losses and stage a withdrawal. Advocating a withdrawal is not “fighting our military.” It is recognizing that the fight we have sent them to wage is not worth expending more blood and treasure with no realistic end in sight.

            It only seems like malarky because you don’t actually read and digest any of it.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    >Rupert…you deliberately talk past or misinterpret what I said,

    Sorry, not my style. That is your strategy Dean, not mine. I notice you don’t point out any examples of this. That doesn’t mean I answer all your comments however, some are simply too silly to address.

    So let us begin with addressing the latest round of idiocy:

    >Dean concluded that meant you wanted fewer cost overruns, better construction, and an absence of wage regulations.

    Nope, I wanted government out of the business of running these projects, Id rather they were privately built with free market bidding.

    >No building code…….And why am I picturing third world shantytowns emerging at city boundaries? What a wonderful world this could be.

    I have absolutely no idea why you are picturing such things. I think you and I did conclude quite a while back that strange things do pop into your mind that are not present in the minds of others though. For some reason you seem to hear weird dog whistles based upon where a candidate announces his presidential bid for example.

    At any rate, I live in a 1933 farm house. Most of my neighbors live in similar era houses. This is not a cheap area.

    I grew up in NYC in a 150 year old brownstone. My father recently sold it for $2 million ( that’s about as much as to build 1% or a mile of lite rail, or about 53 feet. ). That sure doesn’t look like shanty town.

    Not much of an argument you got with this one Dean, there are just too many pre code houses with people living in them for it to hold a lot of water.

    >I said “modern life as we know it.” I did not say “life.”

    hmm, ok, I think basically what happened here is that you realized after saying it that you were kind of sounding like a girly man who couldn’t live without government and I was sounding kind of tough, plaid wearing lumberjack mighty man and now you want to sort of take it back.

    >Since I do not live in Eugene or Springfield, I was unaware of your increased local tax burden.

    Obviously. That’s why I pointed out that you didn’t know what you were talking about.

    >Yes…passenger trains are unprofitable just about everywhere.

    So the reason the government is in the train business, Amtrak, is what?

    >So are roads, which is why they keep trying to raise your gas tax.

    No they aren’t. Roads have not been built as a for profit business since Roman times really. The highway system was a defense department project.

    To say roads don’t make a profit is about as sensical as saying a tuna fish sandwich does not make a profit. Neither were built with that motive.

    They are an object, not a business.

    Dean, put down the pipe.

    Just walk away.

    >Kosovo? Please to explain.

    I thought I might have to on this one. For some reason Democrats are notoriously ignorant on this war.

    Clinton was looking at a lot of embarrassing testimony, he needed a distraction.

    Clinton went in and bombed the crap out of this region for this distraction. He did this without UN sanction, and without a hell of a lot of talk or negotiation.

    He left the region changed, from a situation where Muslims were getting killed, to a situation where Muslims went on a violent killing spree in retribution.

    Now, here is the problem for you.

    Saddam was given over a decade to comply with the terms of surrender, that’s plenty of talk

    Saddam was given something like 14 UN resolutions against him in that time, that’s plenty of talk.

    So why weren’t democrats like you all over Clinton, who didn’t talk at all before Kosovo, they way you were on Bush from the outset?

    One word, partisanship.

    >Unemployment is a red herring.

    No its not. Did you seriously bring up this issue not knowing the increase in unemployment benefits is there? If its in the bill its hardly a red herring. Good God man, you never cease to amaze me with this sort of thing.

    >Who is “Harry Dean?”

    God knows. I meant Harry Reid. I think maybe I get him confused with Harry Dean Stanton since they both tend to play decrepit kind of evil types in their professional roles.

    >George Will, Pat Buchanan, Collin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, Jim Baker,

    And you don’t see a difference between them saying it and the senate majority leader, Harry Dean Stanton Reid? The troops sure did. I cant imagine what that must feel like, being in a war and having the head of the Senate back home say that kind of thing. Pretty amazing, but I guess it didn’t make an impression on you. Not much of a surprise there.

    >It only seems like malarky because you don’t actually read and digest any of it.

    No, it seems like malarkey because it is. You make silly points, I pretty much decimate them, then you try and make new points when you find your original ones didn’t work. That’s what happened here obviously.

    As an example – refer back to your original post. You were all on about how it would be evil for private corporations, in this case with the mail, to “High Grade” as you called it.

    Once I pointed out that the USPS engages in this very thing, well, you dropped it and then moved on to throw up the rest of this silliness.

    Thought Id forgotten about that hadn’t you?

    • dean

      Rupert…neither you nor I can speak for what “the troops” want at this point. Many probably want an end to this war so they can come home or avoid a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th deployment. Others may be committed to victory, or finishing the job, or whatever it is we might accomplish if we hang on.

      In either case, soldiers don’t make the policy. And neither should the president alone. Harry Dean Stanton Reid and his Democratic colleagues in congress won an election in 2006 in large measure because a large majority of Americans believe it is time to wind down that war. If Obama is elected in 08, it will be largely for this same reason.

      As I recall, the Kosovo “war” was preceded by face to face negotiations between Ambassador Holbrooke and President Milosevich of Serbia. When an agreement could not be reached, Clinton chose an air war in support of the Kosovar people who were actively being killed and run out of dodge. As I recall, we won the engagement in short order without a single loss of an American soldier.

      Forward to Iraq. No direct negotiations. An interruption of the work of the UN inspectors, who were finding zilch. No active genocide. No active internal rebellion. The UN, who’s sanctions it was that were being violated, said no to war. Bush blew them off and chose a ground and air war to take over a middle eastern nation and then….what? Apparently he and his highly experienced war Cabinet had no clue. 5 years and change later, over 4000 Americans dead, tens of thousands wounded and suffering from PTSD, a trillion dollars and counting spent, tens to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, 2 million displaced, multiple militias fighting over the corpse of a state….and you want to compare this to Kosovo? Be my guest.

      Had the Kosovo intervention turned into a fiasco 1/10 the proportion of Iraq, I can assure you that I and other Democrats would have been all over it. To turn it around though, how much of a fiasco does it take for you and yours to recognize a bad mistake made by your side, and to call for it to be ended?

      On a lighter note…okay. Passenger trains and roads are both built and operated at below cost. Why? As a public “service” to allow people to get from place to place and for the economy to function. We make political choices (through elected officials) whether to facilitate one or the other or both forms of getting about with tax and fee money. So why are you always picking on trains? At $4 a gallon and climbing, I would think putting all of our eggs in the roads basket is not the wisest policy.

      I also live in a pre-code, 1920’s farmhouse. Previously I rebuilt an 1890s home in Portland. The original construction of neither one of them serves as much of an argument in favor of abandoning building codes, I can assure you.

      I’ll repeat and maintain my statement with appropriate emphasis so you can get it at last. MODERN life as we know it would not be possible without it (government working efficiently and well).

      Signed…”girlie man.”

  • Bo

    Just compare the post office to UPS and you will see the difference.