Wednesday, April 12, 2006

We see this over and over, but the Pols never do

The WSJ tells us[$]:

Going Postal

"Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." Hurricane Katrina was another story.

A week ago Monday the Times-Picayune reported that the U.S. Postal Service's New Orleans processing and distribution center would reopen the following day -- more than seven months after Katrina hit. The paper called it "a move postal officials say will all but eliminate maddening post-Katrina delivery times of a week or longer for letters mailed just across town." Not that things are completely back to normal. New Orleanians still don't receive magazines, "although that is expected within weeks."

Postal Service competitors fared better. Spokesmen for DHL, FedEx and United Parcel Service tell us that all three companies restored service in New Orleans on September 19, just three weeks after Katrina hit.

All three companies also joined in the relief efforts. DHL ferried international aid to Louisiana from Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas. UPS drivers "from as far away as Vermont hauled loads of donated supplies to FEMA sites in Mississippi and Louisiana -- on their own time," according to a corporate history. And FedEx, a spokesman says, "transported more than 1,000 tons of relief supplies to areas affected by hurricanes in 2005."

In Katrina's aftermath we've heard a lot about government "incompetence," mostly from people who have a bone to pick with the Bush Administration. But it seems likely that the private delivery companies would have outshone the Postal Service regardless of who was in the White House. Some things the private sector simply does better.

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