Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.

Australians Unclear on the Concept - Cephus' Corner

Australians Unclear on the Concept

December 2nd, 2014

mailboxesSince I do read a couple of stamp forums, I get to see some crazy stuff.  In Australia, the post office is shutting down public mailboxes that receive less than 25 letters in them per day because it just makes no financial sense to send someone around to pick up a couple of things a day.  All of a sudden, Australian stamp collectors (and probably others) are up in arms because they want the mailboxes to stay, out of tradition more than anything else.

Some of these people just don’t get how businesses operate.

See, the Australian Post Office has to pay people to go around and pick these things up and when it becomes inefficient to do so, they have no choice but to stop doing it.  Many mailboxes, according to the survey, received less than 8 items per day.  The postage on those 8 items doesn’t justify the time and the cost necessary to send someone to the location.  That postage has to pay for the time spent.  It doesn’t.

I’m going to try not making this too political, that mostly belongs on my other blog, but just because it’s stamp collectors who are up in arms, I’ll leave it here. This is hardly the first time I’ve seen something similar, where stamp collectors have had the unreasonable expectation that the post office do things that are not in their financial best interest, just because the collectors want it.  This can be the desire to have special philatelic counters open, even though they acknowledge that the clerks at these counters often have nothing whatsoever to do due to low usage.  It can be the demand to have special ceremonies for every single new stamp issued, complete with special FDC and franking.  But they certainly don’t want to pay any more for these things, oh no. It’s supposed to be a gift!

Like it or not, the Post Office, even if it is a part of the government, is a business. It has to make rational business decisions.  It has to live within its financial means.  Yeah, I know most people don’t see the government like that but it’s true.  That means that they’re not going to do things just because it’s “convenient”, if that thing is losing them money.  We all ought to be up in arms over things like that, but apparently these collectors, whatever their political nomenclature, think having boxes that hardly get used is worthwhile because they want to see boxes around and feel like the Post Office isn’t on the fast track to irrelevancy.  Sorry, that’s not the reality, no matter how it makes you feel.

That’s one thing that really grinds my gears, people expecting others to do what makes them happy, even if it’s a financially bad decision for the company.  Me! Me! Me! It’s all about their happiness, not about understanding how business actually works.  Maybe it’s time that the Australians, and other countries as well, rent a clue.



  • Niall Shapero says on: December 4, 2014 at 3:06 am


    There are some government functions that are not businesses — defense is one. While it does have to have a controlled budget (defense), it can’t be run “on a profit basis” as a business must. In like fashion, if “the mail” is defined as a government function (as it is in the US – I don’t know how it’s run in Australia) then one may have to accept actions that don’t make “business sense”. In the US, this means that we charge less for bulk mail items (junk mail, basically) than we do for first class postage even though it costs more to process the bulk mail items (a result, I’d guess, of politics raising its ugly head).

    • Cephus says on: December 4, 2014 at 2:06 pm


      In the case of bulk mail, it was initially done because the Post Office found itself needing an influx of cash quickly and that was an easy way to make a lot of money in a short amount of time, to get businesses to dump a lot of cash into the system. It makes short-term profits but, as you say, over time it provides diminishing returns, especially once the Post Office finds itself dependent on that cash. Instead of using that short-term cash to restructure more efficiently, they simply assumed that it would always be there and built their budgets around it, continuing to reduce costs in hopes of spurring more bulk mail revenue and finding that every new bulk mailer was worth significantly less than the ones they had started out with.

      In the U.S., the Post Office is supposed to be semi-autonomous and not operate off tax money. I honestly don’t know the particulars of Australia but I do know they’ve had independent mail carrier companies over the years who, as I understand it, haven’t done particularly well competing with Australian Post.

  • Niall Shapero says on: December 5, 2014 at 2:47 pm


    Originally, of course, the US Postal Service was one of the few governmental functions that there was (it wasn’t supposed to be semi-autonomous, it WAS a pure government function). Of course, not being satisfied with what worked in past does seem to be a human trait. (“I don’t care if it works, I want to fix it!”) Oh, well, utopia’s are boring, so I suppose it’s just as well we don’t live in one… 🙂

    • Cephus says on: December 6, 2014 at 11:50 am


      Well, the Post Office is a function of the government but it’s not supposed to be paid for by the government via tax money, it’s supposed to be fully funded by it’s own retail operations. That’s what I meant. It means the post office has to run like a business and people have to treat it like a business because that’s how it operates. Unfortunately, we have a population that largely is self-entitled, they think they get what they want, no matter how unrealistic it is and I’m sure that concept has spread like a virus throughout most first-world nations.

  • Niall Shapero says on: December 6, 2014 at 8:55 pm


    That’s the way it is now – but for the “you must fully fund the pension fund for each new hire” condition added by the GOP. (I think that they really want to do away with the post office and replace it with private businesses – despite what the Constitution said about running one…(a post office system, that is).

    • Cephus says on: December 7, 2014 at 3:18 pm


      But the GOP couldn’t care less about the Constitution, any more than the Democrats do. The modern GOP is just a hyper-religious liberal group, they don’t have a clue about the traditional roots of conservatism, they’re not fiscally conservative, they’re not for personal responsibility or small government, they are every bit as liberal as the Democrats are, all while wearing a holier-than-thou hat.

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Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.