The Indicator from Planet Money - What A Piece Of Work Is The Post Office

The rather Shakespearean situation of the U.S. Postal Service

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Content Keywords: buff Something Wicked This Way Comes indicator
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NPR

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Chris there has been a lot of drama around the post office lately. I know it's like a political Firestorm it is you can almost see it Shakespearean. Okay Cardiff people might not know this but you are this huge Shakespeare buff, right? You're always quoting Shakespeare, you know Shakespeare really? Well today. I thought we would do a Shakespearean show about the post office. So I thought we could leave in a little quiz to test your knowledge of the post office or Shakespeare first question. How many acts in a Shakespeare play? This is the indicator from Planet Money. I'm Stacey Vanek Smith and I'm Cardiff Garcia and I have no idea. What's about to happen. I'm going to tell you today on the show the post office in five acts. Also, I test part of knowledge 10 questions, including some slightly modified Shakespeare quote.

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And right after the break something postal This Way Comes, what is it?

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Hamlet some no. I mean, you know Something Wicked This Way Comes to stop from Macbeth is it it is Macbeth a terrible start here.

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Oh, I think as electricity. This is David Wessel. He's an economist at the Brookings institution. You really think it says essential is electricity.

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Because the postal service is the one delivery service that has an obligation to serve a community the end of summer Worrell road service obligation.

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Mail and packages to everyone everywhere FedEx UPS. They don't go a lot of places because it is not profitable and that is why David thinks the post office is so important it connects everyone together Shakespeare by the way Cardiff very much understood the importance of the male. In fact, there's a very famous moment in a very famous Shakespeare play when a letter gets delivered late and has very tragic consequences. It's the end of Romeo and Juliet.

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Very good. Very good giving you a star for question number for all right act to Frailty. Thy name is pension obligations. That's definitely from Hamlet referring to Ophelia. I believe Realty that name is woman. I kind of like this version better with the post office all of this drama David Wessel says goes back to the early 1970s. That was the moment when the post office went from just being a government entity to a business like kind of a business Congress decided that it should become a kind of strange quasi-governmental Corporation.

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Swing from a government entity that provided a public service to a public service that was supposed to operate like a business. So the post office have all these restrictions for instance. It cannot charge just like whatever it wants for stamps it also has that Mandy to get packages to everywhere. Also, when the post office was heard of semi private eyes. There was this Remnant left over from the government seize the postal worker pension. It's it's a lot of things the post office is trying to contend with at the same time email happened online documents happened and the post office is prophets were just kind of destroyed the post office has lost money every year since 2007 and it expects to continue to lose money for the next decade Boss by liquid overtime closing post offices getting rid of mailbox.

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I just trying to find any way to make the business model work so far. It's not working act 3 climax of our play card. If the stuff that news is made of these are the things that dreams are made on. Yes, the stuff that dreams are made of from The Tempest. Yes, the Tempest correct because of covid-19 and social distancing a lot of states are kind of lying on mail-in ballots for the presidential election. And that would of course flood the post office with the most important kind of mail and the Postal Service kind of freaked out about this and send letters to States saying, you know, there might be mail delays and some ballots might not make it by the deadline and then a reporter asked President Donald Trump about it. They can't have Universal mail-in voting. I just can't have it. So, you know, what a crazy thing.

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Administration is sabotaging the election through the post office. And then you do people start buying t-shirts and stamps and all these products from the post office as a way to like support democracy. It is quite sure. It isn't. So, he'll President Trump has long complained about the money losing business model of the post office and also its business relationship with Amazon Trump has said many times that he thinks that Amazon should pay more for its use of the post office and getting it's good sort of all over to all places like real Wyoming trump. It is worth noting President Trump is not a big fan of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, so that could be in the mix. Yeah, definitely sitting there with all its like crazy business model like it to mr. President birthday from Julius Caesar. Yes at the moment of death when Brutus stab Caesar.

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Apps for the winter of the postal service's discontent Richard the third this is the one piece in the worst case scenario for the Post Office the worst case scenario is that the post office loses the confidence to the American people may think it's become a political arm of Donald Trump and that the business evaporates even more quickly than his projected a presidential election thrown into question. It is not a good picture talk about steering towards a tragedy the best case scenario though. Of course, you know Shakespeare wrote comedies to what David says. She know now that everyone's attention is on the post office and sort of the business predicament. It's in maybe there will finally be the will to like try some things out now.

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Everybody cares about the postal service which situation right post office Brave New post office give you the whole there. Oh Brave New World that has such people in it.

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No, it is the Tempest but that's the Tempest. That's the Tempest history plays. I cannot say do you think they're supposed to be post office in like 20 years everything Bible business? I think it's the back of valuable public service that we will find a way to preserve even if it doesn't work as a business all of this Sound and Fury, but it's definitely Macbeth Macbeth. Yes that the Sound and Fury will mean like a lot of scrutiny and everybody paying attention and the chances of tampering with the mail or mail-in ballots will actually be pretty minimal as a result.

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So not just signifying nothing actually signifying quite a lot.

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unto the breach

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Henry V

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Play the next thank you. Thank you. Let's see. I think I threw in an extra one in there for you. So well out of 11 questions. I think you got nine.

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Yeah, I was just dance off my game, but that was fun.

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Is there a certain indicator was produced by Nick found in fact check by Brittany Cronin indicators edited by Patty Hirsch in it is a production of NPR.
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