A week ago, I bought a rare, out of print book on eBay. The seller, who lives in Ashland, KY, shipped the book via the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to me in the Nashville, area, a trip of about 340 miles. A week later, the book still had not arrived.
Being the naturally curious person that I am, I examined the detailed tracking information available on the USPS website. My book first traveled to Charleston, WV, to a USPS “Regional Origin Facility” before stopping at a second “Regional Facility,” also in Charleston, WV, now about 400 miles from Nashville.
My book then shipped 665 miles to another “Distribution Center” in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, before traveling 1,346 miles to Tampa, FL. By the time my book gets to Nashville it will have traveled 2,777 miles from Ashland, KY, which is 3 miles more than it takes to drive from New York City to Los Angeles. As my book’s circuitous route illustrates, the U.S. Postal Service logistics system is not optimized for efficiency, safely supported by U.S. taxpayers.
Like a less entertaining game of “Where’s Waldo,” I have no idea where my book will show up next, though I hear that Hawaii is nice this time of year.
In the last fiscal year, the USPS had an operating loss of $2 Billion. I think I understand why. I’m quite certain that shipping an item 8 miles for every 1 mile required to deliver a package for a flat fee will put huge financial pressure on the bottom line. Anyone concerned about lowering the carbon footprint of U.S. corporations might want to pay attention here as in 2016, the USPS shipped 5.2 Billion packages like mine.
Monopolies are not concerned with such mundane things as customer satisfaction or making a profit. Mitt Romney had a good idea when he proposed that FedEx or UPS could compete with the U.S. Postal Service for local mail delivery. But Mitt missed his moment and so the rational consumer is still in need of a hero.
President Donald Trump could be that hero consumers are looking for should he be able to ignore whatever CNN is getting wrong on air. Monopolies and government services in general aggravate the people they pretend to serve and do so without conscience or consequence.
Consider the U.S. educational system operating with a monopoly in K-12 education. While taxpayers have doubled the money spent in our schools since 1970, actual educational progress appears to have remained flat. Why not let competition and market forces work to improve the educational opportunities for our nation’s children who are eager to learn until a failing system fails to inspire?
More and more people are looking at innovations in on-line education both to cut costs and to allow more people to learn from the best. University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business Professor Edward Hess observed that he was interacting with about 300 students in his courses on managing smaller enterprises and the challenges of business growth. Yet with the creation of a MOOCs class (a massively open online course) taught by Hess, as many as 50,000 people have been able to receive exposure to an Ivy League education via the Internet using livestream technology for fee. This kind of educational program was founded by two Stanford University computer science professors who had the bright idea of bring education to a broader audience, which is a real value when you consider that the cost of tuition, books and living expenses at Stanford University is $66,696 per year and $266,784 for a 4-year degree. As a father of four children, with two children attending private universities, I much favor free on-line whenever possible.
Andrew J. Coulson’s documentary School, Inc. reveals that globally, market forces are breaking through the poorly run, government controlled, educational monopolies and rewarding the best teachers with millions in personal incomes.
For example, South Korean-based, SKYEDU teacher Choi Jung Yoon typically has as many as 100,000 students choosing to fork over hard-earned Won to take his courses. Another SKYEDU teacher, Kim Ki Hoon, has generated $100 Million in revenue over the past decade from his courses. And it is this robust, open, free market educational system that has led to a standard of living for South Koreans estimated to be 20 times that of their centrally planned, government-controlled economy (and education system) of North Korea.
And regarding Obamacare, don’t get me started. My high deductible plan premiums went from $500 per month in 2009 with a $5,000 family deductible to $1,454 per month for a comparable plan with a $13,000 deductible in 2017. Currently, there are no options except the “Affordable Care Act” exchange where I live. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, with 99 percent of the Tennessee health insurance market pulled out sighting unsustainable projected losses ahead.
Meanwhile, some Democrats push for a single-payer, government healthcare system, ignoring the realities of sluggish performance in other government-run services, such as the ACA Healthcare exchanges, the U.S. Postal Service and educational delivery systems like the asinine Common Core. Ironically, while Republicans are castigated for being the party of “big business,” they ignore this opportunity to free Americans from their forced participation with poorly run monopolies.
This can be the moment that the President finds his true voice; the voice that resonates like a tuning fork with tens of millions of consumers who are looking for that hero to solve the everyday problems and frustrations that permeate life outside the Beltway.
Think of us not as taxpayers and voters. Think of us as consumers who are not getting the services they are paying for, as record-high tax rates and federal spending prove.
If you’ve ever struggled to get an education, watched your health care premiums rise by multiple triple digits or not gotten your book in the mail you understand exactly what needs to be done.
Currently, my book is in Memphis, Tennessee.
Michael E. Hamrick is chief strategist at Resilient Brands. Follow him @resilientplan
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.