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Communications Government United States Technology

USPS To Launch Line of Smart Clothing 206

Posted by timothy
from the please-link-to-sketches dept.
SpaceGhost writes "The Washington Post reports that the United States Postal Service has contracted with Wahconah Group, Inc. to produce a line of USPS-branded smart clothing. Per USPS Licensing manager Steven Mills 'This agreement will put the Postal Service on the cutting edge of functional fashion... The main focus will be to produce Rain Heat & Snow apparel and accessories using technology to create 'smart apparel' — also known as wearable electronics.' USPS Spokesman Roy Betts reports that the line will be found in premium department stores and specialty stores starting in 2014. The Washington Post points out that the USPS had done a similar retail line in the 1980s sold exclusively at Post Offices, but the line was discontinued after lobbyists complained of competition with the private sector." I hope it has hidden pockets for lost letters, and a loop for the package smashing mallet.
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USPS To Launch Line of Smart Clothing

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  • Hmmm ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:31PM (#42970035) Homepage

    The Postal Service inked a licensing agreement with Cleveland-based Wahconah Group, Inc. to produce the new line, which will include jackets, headgear, footwear and clothing that allows integration of modern technology devices such as iPods, according to agency spokesman Roy Betts.

    What, like pockets?

    I must say, after reading TFA ... I have no idea of what this is or why I'd want to buy it from the USPS.

    I'm more baffled by this tidbit ... In 2006, Congress passed a statute requiring the Postal Service to pre-pay for 75 years worth of retiree benefits within 10 years. No other federal agency is forced to make such an investment.

    Why only the Postal Service and no other agency? To make sure Fedex profits stayed high?

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @01:47PM (#42970241)

    The real problem is the the USPS is designed as a letter carrier. Not a shipping company.
    So electronic communication is reducing the needs for letters (envelope based mail), and online shipment of stuff is being processed by Shipping companies like FedEx and UPS, who are better organized for shipping packages. No so much letters.

    They are going to need to move from Mail Men either walking door to door, or in small cars and trucks. To a larger trucking service where they can handle more boxes and less envelopes.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@noSPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:07PM (#42970561)

    So if I understand correctly the rules are: 1. you have to pay above market rate for salaries/benefits and you are not allowed to fire anybody 2. you have to charge less than a market rate for mail delivery 3. even though the government sets the rules that force you to fail, it is not allowed to bail you out. Oh but don't worry we'll set up some arbitrary rules that give you monopoly on certain types of mail so everything should be fine. Isn't it great how we have geniuses in charge in Washington who work everything out so perfectly for our benefit.

    Just privatize the stupid thing. Apart from accident of history here is no reason for the government to be in charge of mail delivery any more than pizza delivery.

    That's why they introduced the bill in the first place - private industry wants the USPS out of business. It was doing totally fine before the deliberately-crafted-designed-to-fuck-them 2006 bill was passed.

    They put rules in place that no private company would ever be expected to adhere to, that were designed to do exactly this - to push it into financial crisis so that people will say "oh look, government post services don't work! the private sector will save the day!"

  • by DutchUncle (826473) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:12PM (#42970619)
    History and *legal* precedent suggest that you want to retain a government involvement in the mail. For some things you need *legal* proof that you mailed something on a certain day, perhaps to a certain address, especially when dealing with government dealings like taxes and property forms and legal paperwork. If anything, the question might be, Why didn't the USPS remain the most efficient transport service rather than allowing private companies to pass them? Who hobbled the USPS to allow "private competition"? (BTW - would you pay extra for air mail if you knew it was carried in the back seat of a fighter plane? Hey, they have to do some training flight time anyway . . . )
  • by clong83 (1468431) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:15PM (#42970663)
    They're losing money for a variety of reasons. The most important is that they are mandated to exist by congress, and are supposed to be financially autonomous, but are micromanaged by congress. You'd have to think long and hard to come up with a worse group of PHBs. Congress told them to pre-fund in full their retirement fund for the next 75 years. The USPS has basically said, "This requirement is bankrupting us. If you relax it, or let us make our own decisions we'll be fine." People wonder why they can't compete with FedEx, UPS, DSL, etc, and the answer is simply that those companies don't have to listen to Congress dictate details like telling them to pre-fund the entirety of a 20 year-old employee's pension right now. I'm all for fiscal responsibility and responsible funding of pensions, but is ten years of secure pension funding not enough? 20? 30? I mean, 75? How do you even estimate your pension needs 75 years in advance?

    On another note, one idea I've heard that was intriguing would allow them to operate something like a bank. Not a financial investment house, but a low-end and low-cost branch bank. Sure, I might not switch all my finances over to it, and most people probably wouldn't either. But I might open an account and seed it with some cash if it were convenient. I could send mail and have it draw on the account without having to buy stamps or wait in line. Just drop it in a box at the post office and enter my account number/pin. It could work really nicely. There's already a branch in every city. And for a lot of working poor that have no bank affiliation, it might be the most convenient place to open an account, reducing the population of unbanked. Basically a public option for retail banking.

    Believe it or not, it works like this in most other places, mostly with success. And this is the way it used to work in the US as well, but it was not FDIC insured, and was phased out in the 60s or 70s.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:22PM (#42970741) Homepage Journal

    My packages from Fedex or USPS are usually near perfect condition upon receiving them. UPS employees on the other hand seems to willingly just beat packages to hell for the fun of it.

    I don't know where you live, but here at my house, in Chicago, if a package of mine is lost or damaged, it's more likely to be FedEx or UPS than the Post Office.

    Around here, FedEx especially has a habit of dropping a package on a doorstep, which is an invitation to theft. For the same amount that UPS or FedEx will send a package without recipient signature required, I can send something via USPS with delivery confirmation (less than a buck).

    My wife's a book collector. She buys and sells rare or unusual mathematics books. She only uses USPS and requests that people sending her books us USPS, because we know we'll get it and it won't take a bit longer than UPS.

    And we'll never get a little slip of paper telling us "We missed you, so now you've got to drive down to the UPS office to pick up your package".

    When the Founding Fathers created the Post Office, there was a good reason that they believed it was necessary to have such a service (and yes, there were private companies already doing the same thing).

    And now we've got a bunch of anti-government extremists trying to kill this important service, using poison pill benefit funding requirements and anti-competitive restrictions.

    If the USPS goes away and this sector is left to two players, you can bet that there will be huge increases in consumer shipping costs, and people will have absolutely no alternative. Without the USPS, online commerce would have been badly hamstrung and we wouldn't see anything like the explosion in online shopping that we have today. There's a reason that the default shipping method for Amazon, Netflix, etc is the US Post Office.

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