Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Battery Tax

I was talking to my mailman on a recent Saturday when I picked up two pieces of junk mail from my mailbox. I asked how long Saturday deliveries would be continued by the Post Office as it is really a service that has outlived its usefulness. He claimed that the Post Office is losing millions on Saturday delivery and that the union is fighting the elimination to save jobs.

In the US, we take the Post Office for granted although the Post Office is a huge part of our competitive advantage economically as a nation. It's not likely that UPS or Fedex will be competing for daily envelope delivery anytime soon and the scale of the Post Office enables a huge amount of business to be transacted at a very low cost.

On the other hand, the rise of electronic commerce is causing a reduction in volume quicker than the Post Office can reduce its workforce without a massive headcount reduction. In the last decade, the Post Office has already reduced its workforce by 200,000. Saturday delivery would result in another 40,000 reduction. The last thing the economy needs now is another 40,000 people losing their jobs.

Let's look for some creative solutions. What additional tasks could the Post Office take on? If you are wondering what the title of this post has to do with the preceding, the answer is about to come clear. Why don't we have the Post Office pick up all our used batteries and make sure they don't end up in the dump where they will eventually end up in our water supply? Adding a battery tax on the purchase of batteries would fund their collection and who better to be able to pick up from every home in the country.