When I was a kid my best friend had a paper route and on occasion I would run it for him. For those of my readers not old enough to know, grade-school kids used to deliver papers in the neighborhoods of the US. Sure, this practice still takes place but on a much smaller scale than before. Now the term is likely “paper people” but putting aside political correctness, I couldn’t help by think of this idea in response to what is happening in Congress and private industry.
Many of us know the US Postal Service or USPS has a monopoly on mailboxes. Interestingly though as this entity is bleeding money and subsequently Congressman Darrell Issa, R-CA, proposed a bill that would “permit periodicals, newspapers and unstamped mail to be placed in mailboxes on days when the Postal Service does not provide mail delivery.”
Thomas J. Quinlan, CEO of magazine printing giant R.R. Donnelley, told financial analysts this week that he would be in favor of this proposal and is even prepared to take on local delivery of magazines if it were made possible.
There seems to be no good reason for US taxpayers and their children to have to continue to take on the financial costs of mail delivery if private companies will do it for free and in-fact pay more taxes as a result.
Yes, Amazon, eBay and Google are all playing in the local-delivery space and now printers are thinking of doing so as well. One wonders if this doesn’t open up new employment opportunities in depressed neighborhoods around the country and if we may see resurgence in paper “people” as a result of this newfound need to distribute goods for competitive advantage.
Of course the challenge with all these plans is scale. You could argue that if the USPS can’t make money delivering the packages that everyone sends (excluding FedEx, UPS and a few others), then how can a specialized delivery network make money doing so?
Many companies getting into the delivery biz have likely thought this through but the idea doesn’t seem to be putting them off for now. In fact, just today, Google expanded its same-day delivery service to Manhattan and Los Angeles.
The good news for consumers is better access to products and services at reasonable prices thanks to increased competition. Moreover, one imagines some sort of resource-sharing will have to take place between the printing and tech companies in order to make these new initiatives more cost-effective.
In the end though, we seem to have the perfect storm for increased youth employment; Tech’s desire to take on UPS coupled with the USPS not able to make money thanks to their high operating costs. The only hole in my theory is what happens when Google perfects delivery robots coupled with self-driving cars? It will likely happen in the next ten years but until then, it looks like “paper people” is the next great job opportunity for the unemployed.