I can’t pass up the opportunity to write a post that links two of Gady’s posts. A recent article on the Fast Company site (Why Netflix Should Run the U.S. Postal Service, Aug 10) argues — you guessed it — that Netflix should take over the post office. In a nutshell, the argument is that running a post office is about sorting and that Netflix knows how to sort. It raises the possibility of standardizing postal service packages to eliminate the need to deal with the post office. If an item fits in an envelope, the sender knows that the Postal Service will take it. (The Postal Service is already trying something like this with packages.)
This is an interesting idea but one suspects that it under estimates the complexity of the post office. If nothing else, it under estimates the political pressure the Postal Service is subject to. The Postal Service is necessary because so much of American bureaucracy is tied to geography. What income tax I pay and whether I have to do jury duty depends on my physical address. Email is not going to completely replace physical mail since a gmail address exists only in the ether and is not de facto tied to a physical presence. There needs to be a system to reach me regardless of where that address is. FedEx is not compelled to serve my house but the Postal Service is. Universal service is not going away and I not sure how Netflix would deal with that mandate.