Hm, that is a good point, which I hadn't thought about. However, my knee-jerk reaction is that the USPS is different than other federal services in that they provide very consumer-oriented services, and also help to keep private consumer-oriented services running well through such measures as delegating zip codes which aren't necessary, but are damned useful for a lot of things such as very localized, regional services which work better as effectively a 5-digit PTR query returning a physical chunk of land, an idea which is becoming VERY useful in today's electronic society - it's a lot easier for, say, a delivery service to keep track of who goes where based on a 5-digit number than on an arbitrary collection of street names with inconsistent lower and upper bounds on each one. (Here in Las Cruces, for instance, street numbering can get VERY screwy in places.)
Also, I'd much rather keep the USPS in charge of mail and package deliveries. Have you ever been into one of the newer USPS branch offices? They're clean, happy, cheerful places, with employees who love what they're doing (the benefits of being a civilian government employee certainly don't hurt that any). Contrast that to your typical UPS branch - all the ones I've been to are glum, depressing, filled with hate-filled people who hate their job and long lines of people who are only going with UPS because they don't know of anything better (namely the good ol' post ofice).
Okay, so that doesn't defend the USPS partnering with private industry any, so I'll get to some useful points now. The federal government is ALWAYS partnering with private industry. They're usually just not very loud about it. The government goes with various private contracts for everything from buying office chairs to the design and building of weaponry and wartime vehicles and the like (what do you think keeps Boeing and Lockheed-Martin in business?). Also, Area 51 is, according to my dad (who used to be a civilian contractor for the air force, and is one of the more level-headed people I know), a Boeing test hangar where they work on highly-classified stuff. Of course, that might include reverse-engineering of alien spacecraft, but it's still a privately-run but government-funded establishment.
As far as the specific case of financial services: what do you think FDIC is? It's the federal government giving individual banks the blessing that if they should go belly-up, their holdings are insured, up to $10,000 per account. That money doesn't come from nowhere; usually it's - say it loud, kids - federal funding.
The FAA doesn't partner with specific airlines for travel needs, but they do partner with specific companies for travel safety needs. My dad, a Lockheed-Martin employee (via Sandia National Labs - set up on federal DoD and DoE funds), has worked on their aging aircraft non-destructive inspection program for many years now, and it's his biggest recurring contract at work.
I'm sure you're at least aware of federal credit unions. There are plenty of private banks out there, but since they have a bottom line to watch out for, they don't always act in their customers' best interests. That's why FCUs exist. They are a government agency providing goods or services even though commercial entities can and do. USPS - same thing. There are plenty of other posts on this discussion sticking up for USPS's general quality of service, and I wholeheartedly agree, and would like to add that they're a fuckload better than the similar services offered by UPS and FedEx and quite a bit cheaper, as well. $3.00 for expedited mailing for letters and packages up to 1 pound, 20 cents extra for delivery confirmation - I challenge you to find the same level and quality of service from UPS or FedEx for $3.20.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!
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