This is why we can’t have nice things

Tonight, I noticed a card in my mail box that encouraged me to keep my (nonexistent) pets at bay so they wouldn’t attack carriers, meter readers, newspaper delivery folks and, of course, neighbors’ children.

Most rational people heed these general life tenets without a formal notice from the USPS. Though, I find this notice curious for a variety of reasons:

  1. I live in a condominium. Nobody’s pets are untethered and running around attacking people.
  2. As a former paper delivery boy, I can understand this being a legitimate worry. But it doesn’t apply to my building.
  3. All of our meters are wireless. Nobody goes into units to check these things anymore.
  4. It’s a condo building. Even when I received physical paper delivery, there was a 0.0000001% chance of dog mauling.
  5. The notice says that there are “deaths” caused by animal attacks. While statistically possible, I highly doubt that many meter readers, newspaper delivery people and mail delivery folks face a probable likelihood of death by dog mauling at work. They’re more likely to die driving to and from places.
  6. The card notes that “Each year, more than 4.5 million people — most of them children and the elderly — are bitten by dogs.” That sounds like a scary number, but it’s about 1.44% of the total U.S. population. I doubt many children and seniors are delivering mail and reading meters. I’d also posit that fewer children are delivering papers due to lower print news media demand. Most of these bites are probably from the dogs of their friends.

The U.S. Postal Service is in bad shape. Post Offices rightly need to be closed, and downsizing seems like an inevitability. Few people doubt the need for reform. But, these post cards? Really?

I doubt they were produced at an actuarially insignificant cost. Likewise, I also doubt people will get the cards and change their behavior at a level that will make a statistical impact that will change outcomes. “Oh, you mean leaving my Doberman out in the yard at night has risks? Who knew?”

I was attacked by a few dogs in my day delivering The Sun Press. I bought mace and that solved the problem. Postal delivery folks have had mace since 1995, at least in Cleveland.

My problem is that I have serious concerns as to whether these post cards were a cost effective decision. For starters, they were printed by the U.S. Postal Service. I have no idea the scope of the printing, but given that they were distributed in my building (with an infinitesimally small chance of mauling), I have good reason to believe that they weren’t distributed thoughtfully.

Aside from their direct costs, the labor costs of transporting, sorting, and delivering them to consumers probably made a pretty big dent in productivity. The stamp area says that they are “First Class Mail.” And that the “postage and fees” were paid by the USPS with Permit No. G-10.

I seriously doubt USPS paid themselves for mailing these. If they did, that’s stupid. If they didn’t, while the costs are imaginary, the costs of having postal carriers pointlessly deliver them to condominiums like mine are quite tangible. Given the budget woes of the USPS, don’t they have bigger fish to fry? That’s just me.

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One Thought on “This is why we can’t have nice things

  1. If you deliver mail into the Pridelands, I will attack you. I am a lion.

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