Commentor MikeJ, via Cole’s earlier Netflix post:
Hmmm. Congress complaining that the Post Office isn’t a profit centre, even though it’s mandated in the constitution. Not enough broadband available. PO losing customers because nobody except junk mailers use it any more.
I say let the USPS lay fibre to the curb and fuck Comcast.
To which commentor Omnes Omnibus replied:
Win. Jobs… Broadband access… Constitutional mandate (arguably wrt this)… Screwing over cable companies… Yeah, I like it.
And commentor Judas Escargot added:
One could make an argument that fiber/copper fits the definition-in-spirit of a ‘Post Road’.
So… just as a thought experiment… how would we go about implementing this most excellent idea, people?
I’m sure it will involve too much sociallism and the Republicans will never go for it. Invisible Hand. Also. Too.
Just wrote a recipe for BHF. Comfort food notched up a bit. :)
Short Bus Bully
It IS a most excellent idea because I would LOVE to tell Comcast to eat shit and die but it’s about as likely to succeed as a black man getting elected president in my life–
Start with rural broadband expansion. Us liberals in our decadent enclaves on the coast can get broadband pretty easily (even though it involves making a deal with the
devilComcast), but folks in rural Nebraska either have to depend on dial up or shell out for satellite Internet. Even if it’s too expensive to lay cable out to each individual house, it should be possible to set up internet cafes“Post Offices” where folks can use the Internet for a nominal fee (45 cents, maybe?).
Also, too, the reason one has to deal with the big cable companies is that cable/internet is a natural monopoly with ridiculous start up costs. Therefore, competition is naturally limited. We could rein in any abuses with regulations, but as you know, Bob, regulations = JOB KILLERS OMG!11!
The Republic of Stupidity
Well… at the very least, even suggesting such a thing will cause the righties to foam at the mouth and soil themselves…
So how can I NOT like this idea?
What do teatards always reply when asked, “Why do you say that?”
Because it annoys a liberal?
Call me cynical (or given this crowd maybe emoprog is better) but some how I think the republicans are not going to be the only source of resistance.
Short Bus Bully
@The Republic of Stupidity:
Oh hells yeah.
It’s funny because Rushbo and Co. always talk about liking something solely for the reason that it annoys liberals but the truth of the matter is that conservatives get way more wound up about shit than liberals ever do.
Still doesn’t stop me from loving the doozy propositions (like this one) that will REALLY send them over the moon though…
Go bigger. Have the USPS build out LTE coverage to every household. 60Mbps max is plenty fast enough for HD streaming, plus we get non-fucked wireless, plus fuck the cable companies. Less digging up of roads, and while it’s much slower than fiber, the USPS could turn each post office into a guaranteed communication hub – in addition to mail, they would ensure wireless phone coverage to all serviced addresses, and data bandwidth as well, along with a canonical electronic address (email + data destination) and data backup.
These services would be combined into a variety of packages, but it’d give the government a guaranteed way to send me electronic information that mirrors my postal address. Census? Electronic. Tax filing? Electronic. Voter materials? Electronic. That would offset a massive amount of printed material, which costs the government a fortune, and everyone would be guaranteed a reasonable minimum broadband access – including mobile.
yeah…. the USPS handles the baseline networking that is needed everywhere in the US and if it positively, absolutely has to be there overnight and NOT in your spam filter, let private industry provide larger and faster bandwidth alternatives…..
dunno if its a myth or not, but i’ve heard it repeatedly stated with disdain that we “made” the damn internet and yet we can’t enjoy equal fast bandwidth than those elsewhere in the world because of the “monopoly of the free market”.
In India, a gobinment run telecom company offers unlimited upload and download BB @ 750 Kbps for $166 a year and @ 4 Mbps for $200 year for homes even in rural areas.
This will just be another version of rural electrification – cities subsidizing the development of communities of reactionaries, with the effect that they become wealthier, more productive, and more capable of beggaring and impoverishing the cities.
If the righties want to operate the assumption everything at all good for ones’ opponents must be stopped, we ought to do that too.
s&p fucks eyetalians too.
Great cover, thanks.
I like the Jethro Tull cover version best.
If the cable is suspended from posts, you can call it a postal service, right?
I like the idea of postal broadband so much that I would even be willing to punch Joe Lieberman in the neck to make it happen.
And since this is an open thread, I will ask a very important question: Why come every time I hear The Old 97’s (they come up on my Pandora a lot) it makes me think of Ellen Page?
Ozymandias, King of Ants
Jobs program, anyone?
@Batocchio: Isn’t it? I stumbled over it while searching — unsuccessfully — for a Spanish/Spanglish HC cover we heard via a ‘canned ambiance’ program at a local eatery. (If anyone knows the version I’m talking about, I’m still looking.)
I think you have to begin by disappearing the entire Republican Congressional pack of jackals and hyenas. Nothing like this could ever happen if it required the assent of the complete lunatics…and it does.
I frequently do a thought experiment (it’s called daydreaming) in which the Republican politicians have all disappeared and all the run of the mill wingers in the country have lost interest in voting. Democrats, for some unknown reason, get some spine (even though it’s unnecessary with no more GOP) and Obama embraces core Democratic values. It’s a nice daydream — things work out remarkably well. Sadly, it doesn’t last.
you good get the wingnuts onboard with it if you use the American-caused Afghan and Iraqi disapora to build it for free, and when its done you could use the refugees to restock Gitmo.
Its a plan to make wingnuts tingly aaaaalllllll over.
Paul Krugman is tired of trying to reason with you people.
Get a National Broadband Network up ya.
Great idea. Every town should have a publicly financed Internet Cafe if nothing else. Broadband would be available to everyone regardless of income. Come to think about it, if I’m struggling financially, why can’t I use then the Post Office Broadband service instead to my house? It would be like the phone company.
I think Comcast could come to love it if it means that they no longer have to be a provider for low-income internet access and could concentrate of middle-class users instead. Post Office Broadband would be a great idea for them.
Don’t discount regular mail service those. Ever hear of E-Bay? Or vote by mail? We need to expand those greatly. Also the reason for the Post Office is that it’s the one agency that can communicate with everyone even with the power off and is not beholden to any corporation. For that reason alone, it should have the public subsidy needed to continue.
The practicalities of replacing the post service with internet are silly. plain silly. Almost as silly as letting the post service disappear because you are opposed to any kind of government, anywhere, any shape.
I think i get the sarcasm here.
Any concern for privacy issues with government-run broadband? I know they don’t open our mail, but wouldn’t access to our email be easier?
Or would it be better and Comcast, et al. would no longer be tracking our every click?
At least with a government broadband service, there’s a congressperson to complain to with abuses. A private company? The government could get them to snoop for the Government, but the redress would be indirect at best, and just who owns the company anyway, and are they even Americans who care about the open exchange of ideas?
Two reasons it could appeal to the teatards: (1) Tens of thousands of postal workers would be have to be fired, to make room for tech people. (2) Those tech people are required by USPS rules to be citizens or permanent residents, with more than an H1-B, I think.
Question: could it be WiFi in place of fiber or copper? Just seems easier to impliment.
Thoughtful Black Co-Citizen
How could the fRighties not like this? It is certain to prove once and for all that Private Free Market Enterprise is vastly superior to Gubbermint Soshulust Pogroms.
David Brooks is screaming like a scalded cat over the proposed “Buffett Rule.”
Pure Driftglass bait. Brooks calls himself a “sap” 10 times. (Personally, I’d go with “serial fabulist” and “dissembler”, but that’s more syllables.)
He cannot believe that he believed that nice Obama, who has gone all class warrior on Brooks.
It’s Obama who’s Lucy with the football, in Brooksworld.
Read through his column, and it’s all outrage at the possibility of Brooks and the wealthy paying more taxes. “What about the other 98%? Waaah!”
A Mom Anon
@CarolDuhart: Or instead of new internet cafes,we could just fund libraries again,they already(mostly)have computers and internet access.Make those a hub for wireless too and you wouldn’t have to spend as much money building or maintaining new places. @Ian: I don’t think the idea is to replace,it’s to use the interwebs to enhance and add to the current USPS system.
@The Republic of Stupidity:
This. For god’s sake, this…
This is a good idea if for no other reason than putting Comcast out of business.
I just fielded my second call from them yesterday, dunning me on service I cancelled – by phone – twice on Aug 9 and again, in writing, sent via delivery confirmation, on Aug 23. The irony is that in the cancellation letter itself it states that I’ve put it in writing AND sent it delivery confirmation so they can’t continue to pretend they’ve not been notified of the cancellation. Their collections drones both have tried to give me a number to call (again) for “customer service;” both times my response has been, “I’m not a customer and haven’t been since August 9; I’m not wasting another minute of my time on Comcast’s crap system of disservice.” I did sit down and put together a letter for the city franchise authority yesterday evening though, complete with all documentation about my calls, copy of the letter, etc. In the letter I note that I refuse to call or write Comcast again to cancel the service, because I might as well be shoving beans up my nose.
I’m sure this will eventually end with me having a lawyer draft a letter after Comcast attempts to screw my credit rating…then I’ll have to fight Comcast to pay for the cost of that. But fuck those assholes.
I had a similar idea. Actually, my idea was for the post office to give everyone an e-mail address and for almost all mail to be digitized. I hadn’t really thought out the particulars, maybe laying miles of fiber optic cable is a better idea, but it seemed like maybe the postal service should get in the broadband business instead of the dead tree business.
Here’s what I wrote, again not really thinking out the particulars. It sparked some angry comments from people so I’m guessing it’s kinda radical:
I had to close comments on the post because I was getting dozens and dozens of comment spam from Taiwan and shit.
The reality is, I rarely get mail that doesn’t go straight into the trash. I’d say 98% of my mail is shit I don’t want, anyway. And the USPS is going bankrupt for delivering mail people don’t want? How stupid is that.
We also suggested ditching the bulk postage rate. Raise the postage on this idiots who are sending us stuff we don’t want. But that’s a temporary fix and doesn’t solve the underlying problem.
@Southern Beale: Actually, it’s not even a temporary fix. The bulk junk mailers subsidize first-class service.
Also, not everything can go electronically. We need a post office for parcel post – unless we want UPS and FedEx to have monopoly there, which we don’t.
Beyond that, there’s no constitutional mandate that the post office is supposed to turn a profit or even break even. The current “crisis” was entirely manufactured by the GOP congress in 2006 – the post office wouldn’t be “losing” money if it wasn’t forced – by Congress – to pre-fund its pension fund by 75 years, something no other entity, private or public, is expected to do. If the post office is going “bankrupt”, then it’s “bankruptcy by design” – Republican design.
@Jebediah: I would punch Lieberman in the neck for pocket lint and one of those cards that fall out of magazines, so I’m not sure that operates as the incentive you were suggesting.
Right and I said that in the post. And several of my commenters pointed out the pension issue which you mentioned.
But it sounds like what you and a lot of other people are saying is, there isn’t a problem. And I think beyond the present crisis there is a problem. People are communicating differently now. They’re paying bills online and sending e-mail and doing the majority of their communications in a way wholly different from how we did it for the past two centuries. And there’s no denying that the bulk of the communicating that’s done in the traditional way is unwanted coupons and catalogs and other advertising. So the Post Office is becoming increasingly obsolete in favor of a privatized electronic service. The stuff that comes through the USPS is primarily shit people don’t want.
Saving the USPS is going to require more than piecemeal fixes and denying that people don’t communicate differently. Hell, maybe we change the constitution and ditch it completely then, if that’s what people are saying. Wonder if the “strict constructionist” crowds in the Teanut brigade would rally to preserve THAT part of the Constitution?
When the petition feature [We the People] gets up and running on whitehouse dot gov, we can put all of this in a petition and let folks sign it. I think we would get lots of signatures.
you’re looking for the Gipsy Kings version. No You tube version available. Me sad. I say the GK’s this summer, and it was fantastic.
@Martin: Rural LTE is already in the works. It’s called Lightsquared . It’s currently mired in a controversy about alleged GPS interference, but it’s hard to tell who the bad guys and the good guys are in that dispute. It’s being attacked by GPS manufacturers for alleged interference with GPS, and Republicans are jumping on the bandwagon because Harbinger, the hedge fund that is developing the system, is run by Phil Falcone, who happens to be an Obama donor. The irony is that this is an investment in which a hedge fund does not appear to be acting like a parasite. Harbinger has something like 40% of its capital tied up in Lightsquared, investing billions in satellites and base stations and employing thousands of workers building up the terrestrial network here in the US. Who knows what behind the scenes shenanigans are going on in the efforts to block deployment. AT&T and Verizon have long opposed the system, but the FCC approved Lightsquared’s concept over their objections in 2003, long before Harbinger acquired the parent company, SkyTerra, and renamed it Lightsquared. GPS interference mitigation was allegedly addressed in the application for the original FCC authorization. Anyway, even if Lightsquared doesn’t get fielded in it’s envisioned form using a combination of satellite coverage for rural areas and terrestrial cell towers for more densely populated areas, its satellite component (already launched and which has much less potential for GPS interference) could bring broadband to underserved rural locations. Maybe the satellite network could be taken over by the USPS if Lightsquared fails.
I argued with a libertarian about fiber to all homes a while back. My idea went something like
Fiber to every home installed by the federal government. Biz can buy the rights to sell you services: Video, Phone, Internet. This fixes the problem that really only one company (or two with cable/dsl) can sell you internet services (or the telephone poles would be jam packed and really ugly). The network can also, without any service, allow all users to access all federal and local government sites (Like what our muni wireless does here in Minneapolis). It could also provide one email address to all people in the US. The provider sets your speed based on your monthly fee, with basically no cap to what that speed could be.
Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal
with the postal service would come the guarantee that the government will not restrict anyone’s free speech. it would be troll, spammer, and scam heaven.
Use eminent domain to purchase the last-mile fiber & copper. I figure if you can seize real estate on behalf of a mall developer, then you can seize a network for more efficient economic use as well.
You’ll have to pay for it of course, but the USPS has massive excess pension reserves and real estate holdings that could be brought to bear with a change of law.
Either that or just go wireless. There are post offices everywhere and they’re generally well suited locations for a anchoring a main street wireless mesh.
Heh. I like the idea… but I think it’s going to happen, maybe differently than this..
I’ve figured for a long time, that eventually, IP Multicast will supplant the delivery systems for one-to-many media such as TV and Radio … it’s happening, slowly.. see netflix, xfinity, etc…
Meanwhile Traditional IP deliverly will supplant the traditional telco and (later) cell networks.. leaving all calls to be essentially VOIP…
When all of that reaches critical mass, IP will become a utility, not only in how it’s thought of, but how it’s regulated, and who controls it.
The path is promising from a technological standpoint, but it’s fraught with danger from a political one. As it stands, if we are not careful, the current power players of IP in our nation (such as comcast) will get to write the rules. We need to strengthen the FCC, and strengthen the rules and the perception that internet is a basic utility that should be regulated.
Maybe the USPS will deliver fibre one day – but we’re a long way from that. All eyes should be on comcast and the FCC right now, where the battle for the future of the Internet is at it’s hottest and most contentious…
@Martin: YES YES YES!
@Joseph Nobles: Hell yes!
The USPS isn’t the place to look for last mile broadband.
It’s a pleasant thought – and if the USPS were to dramatically change to be a large-scale ISP than I’m sure I’d agree with all of the sentiment here.
But I’ve got $100 riding on that not playing out that way.
We’ll see private utility providers providing that – companies like AT&T, verizon, and comcast – etc…
Hopefully we will eventually have the regulations in place to keep them from screwing the public (like we try to do with power companies)
The USPS is not suited to be an ISP, nor is it suited to lay fibre. If it were to be, the institution would have to be gutted from top to bottom and what would result is something that would be the USPS in name only.
Is that what all of you are suggesting? How does it help?
Why not just support *any* govt institution to provide basic broadband? I don’t understand the sentiment behind looking to the USPS for the solution. USPS has no grounding in broadband delivery… they aren’t set up to do the job, and to make them be would be like asking the Treasury to be an ISP… it’s not the right tool for the job.
Yes, that is likely what is being suggested. And it helps because the existence of the USPS has a basis in the US Constitution, thereby complicating the “originalist”s’ predictable arguments against it.
I suppose as political maneuvering goes, this is an upside, but again, the USPS would have to be a completely different institution than it currently is, and I suspect that the “originalists” will simply claim that the USPS is no longer a constitutionally mandated entity if this were to happen. They may even argue for the creation of a new postal service altogether. heh
Given how various states have passed laws blocking universities and the like from offering broadband, good luck with that. And as a different anthony, up above, pointed out, we have this rolling out in AU as the NBN. And our local Tories are going fucking insane about it.
Local wifi won’t cut it, it really won’t. FTTH is the answer. Unfortunately, that’s hideously expensive, especially if you have to dig trenches. And if you don’t, you’re hanging wires from poles, and then people go nuts whining that they’re ugly.
If you’re interested, seriously read up on Australia’s NBN, and the political shitfight around it. It’s a perfectly sensible idea, but people are screaming about it.
By God, folks, this is a great idea!! I teach networking at Penn State so there is a great deal of common sense in this idea.
We are approaching the point where internet access should be considered a regulated utility like water and electricity. In 2001 I asked my students what they would prefer to be without for a day – heat or the Internet. Most hands said gas/heat. Last year, I asked the same question – all hands said the Internet – “I can put on a blanket if it gets cold.”
Why are we 37th in the world when it comes to average Internet speed? It’s because of allowing this to remain free market long past the point of initial install.
Other governments have been active in forcing a robust wired and wireless network. They realize that the real money is in the apps and such – those they don’t regulate.
And with newer very high speed wireless such as WiMax and 802.25, it is coming closer to having the last mile, from the curb to the house being wireless. So the USPS could do it.
I mean the British Post Office ran the telegraph system and, I think the phone system.
And the Constitutional basis could help them say “Screw the need for profitability. Our mandate is to provide for the infrastructure.” I said it before, the USPS should mention that the other Constitutionally mandated service, National Defense, does not have to show an annual profit, so why do we simply because you came up with some fancy semi-public system 40 years ago?
If the intent of the USPS is to guarantee a communications infrastructure (thank you, Ben Franklin), then the 21st century USPS should be involved in broadband somehow. If it were up to me, I’d avoid the whole ‘last mile’ issue by using an LTE or WiMax solution (WiMax is technically better– it’s essentially WiFi writ large).
They wouldn’t have to lay any new fibre right away, the govt could purchase bandwidth on the existing networks from those owners (under the threat of eminent domain if the private owners won’t give the USPS a fair price). Public bandwidth would be kept low, to keep costs down, and to leave room for the current private companies to offer value-added services on top of what was available to the public. (I don’t think the USPS should get into the video-streaming business, for example).
But going back to your arguments against… I really don’t understand your argument at all. Just because something is new and difficult, we don’t do it, ever? That’s just the Rand Virus talking.
They didn’t have airplanes in 1789, either. I’m sure arguments were made against the USPS going into the airmail business, back in the day, because it wasn’t in “the original charter” of the USPS. Fortunately, most Americans were actually practical and adaptable back in the 1920s and 1930s.
@Judas Escargot: See my comments above yours.
This is exciting as a prospect.
One of the few good things to come out of Southern secession during the Civil War was that with the wingnuts of the day (then Democrats) out of the picture, Congress actually got a lot of good stuff passed that would have been blocked otherwise. Before then, Southern Senators opposed anything that tried to move the country past the agrarian/feudal model, or that aided Westward expansion.
The railroads got expanded, land grants moved people Westward more quickly than would have happened otherwise, and you can see the beginnings of modern military, industrial and monetary policy forming back then.
IMO, none of that would have happened had the South not seceded when it did.
Remember, Article I of the Constushun is un-Constushull, because Congress can pass no law which does anything more than quote the words of the Constushun over and over. Any law which doesn’t do that means you’re saying something which isn’t in the Constushun. In fact laws themselves are probably un-Constushul, given that we have all the Constushun we need within the Constushun itself, which admittedly I haven’t read carefully, but I know what’s really supposed to be in it.
Jay in Oregon
I’d punch Joe Lieberman in the neck for $20.
I’d offer more, but that’s all I have on me right now…
I also thought that such a thing would go a long way toward preserving net neutrality.
Wireless is a dead end as there is a hard limit on available bandwidth. The future is fiber-to-the-premises, ultra-highspeed digital subscriber line. The telecoms have an disincentive to provide UDSL for the obvious reason that their pay programming will become instantly obsolete. Having an extra-wide pipe would allow content providers to leapfrog over the content distributors and deal directly with the consumer. Having no content of their own, the telecoms will be instantly reduced to mere conduit custodians. And it’s not simply programing that is enhanced by UDSL, but also many potential technologies that currently sit on blackboards (figuratively) with no current market. A big telecommunications pipeline, fiber-to-the-prem will create a mass market for technologies we are not yet even aware of. These new technologies will be developed and produced here to exploit the opportunity to reach every business and home in the nation with massive data. Thus the telecoms are an impediment to economic development in the US and will be obstinate in their struggle to keep available bandwidth at a minimum. However, the network, the so-called “backhaul” of the telecoms, is located in the public right of way. Cables run above and below our streets at our pleasure. Why should we grant these corporations nearly exclusive access to the public right of way if they are restricting the advancement of technology and stifling the economy? Absolutely, the USPS should intercede and allow for the next leap in the growth of the whole country. This is probably more important than the creation of the Interstate Highway system. But it’s a dream. We are bombarded with hatred of labor (that is, ourselves) and the telecoms own most key federal politicians. The public interest cannot be served.
I hadn’t realized that the USPS is Constitutionally mandated. But tea-tards complain it’s not making a profit. Well neither is Congress (except when they line their own pockets). Do they really want to make that argument?
I love all these ideas re: moderninzing to post office. I like my USPS service. Keep up the good work.
Yeah … the Post Office. How does it work?
“Unless the government acts quickly, (Obama) warned, the service will be insolvent by the end of the month, when it will have used up its cash reserves, will have hit its government mandated borrowing limit of $15 billion, and will be unable to make a required $5.5 billion payment to its retiree health program.” — McClatchy
Say goodbye to Saturday delivery. Say hello to rising postal rates. And say a firm Howdy to your new Netflix DVD Delivery System. Maybe they can deliver DVDs and pizzas together, and bundle it as a Papa John’s service? This, along with more DVD rental machines at liquor stores and gas stations, keeps the DVD front and center as the movie delivery medium of the, uh, future. Or present. Or something.
USPJO — United States Papa John’s Office. Pizza, porn, and packages. If it fits, it ships, hot and tasty. We care. (Weekends, pizza only please).