“The American Citizens Aren’t Our Customers”—A Window Into the Post Office, Obamacare, and Many Other Bureaucracies

When an entity has no incentive to serve you, it won’t

As you read this, consider: Bureaucrats like Patrick Donahoe are in the process of taking over your health care. And just as Postmaster Donahoe sees “junk mailers” as his customers, not you, you can bet HHS officials will see insurers, middlemen, Big Pharma, and other major political donors as the ones to whom they bow, not you.

From the Fiscal Times: “How The U.S. Postal Service Crushed an Innovative Startup”—a story of the killed startup, Outbox.

They wanted to allow consumers to digitize all of their postal mail so that individuals could get rid of junk mail, keep important things organized and never have to go out to their mailbox again. They set out to “redefine a long cherished but broken medium of communication: postal mail.” Customers would opt-in for $5 a month with “Outbox” to have their mail redirected, opened, scanned and available online or through a phone app.  Consumers could then click on a particular scanned letter and ask that it be physically delivered, or that certain types of letters not be opened (e.g., bills etc.).


They believed that their technology could actually save the Post Office money. If consumers started to opt-in to Outbox, or other services like Outbox, then the Post Office could receive the full benefits of the stamped envelope but never have to deliver those packages, which is one of the biggest costs for the Post Office. In fact, if properly implemented, when a customer sends a letter from Austin, TX to Alaska, if the Post Office knew that they weren’t going to receive the letter anyway, then the Post Office could forward the letter from Austin directly to Outbox, and never have to ship the letter across the continent.

Thus digitization of mail could actually save the Post Office a large amount of money, but that wasn’t how the Post Office would see it.

When Evan and Will got called in to meet with the Postmaster General they were joined by the USPS’s General Counsel and Chief of Digital Strategy. But instead, Evan recounts that US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe “looked at us” and said “we have a misunderstanding. ‘You disrupt my service and we will never work with you.’” Further, “‘You mentioned making the service better for our customers; but the American citizens aren’t our customers—about 400 junk mailers are our customers.  Your service hurts our ability to serve those customers.”’

According to Evan, the Chief of Digital Strategy’s comments were even more stark, “[Your market model] will never work anyway. Digital is a fad. It will only work in Europe.”

Plan that funeral now—Obamacare is going to “care” for you as only government can.

As one of the entrepreneurs says, “You may think government organizations are completely, insanely backwards; you are wrong—they are worse.”