Thursday, February 11, 2010

Q: Why does UPS need a bailout?

A:They don't, and they're not seeking one.

Q: Then why does Brownbailout dot com make it sound like they are?

A: Well! Therein lies a tale:

I realize most of you have already browsed through the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009(which, apparently, is still pending in '10.). But if you are a dunderheaded sort like me and haven't heard, Fedex discusses it at their site,

If you go there and give it a cursory once-over, you'll come away with the idea that UPS is lobbying for a government bailout. (see below)

brown bailout number 2

But if you poke around a bit, you'll get to a page on the site, "buried bailout" in which they (sort of) admit that what they're calling a bailout is actually legislation that would make the regulations governing Fedex and UPS more uniform, although this is expressed in deliberately deceptive verbiage that suggests that UPS is less-efficient, suffering the presumptive ill-effects of being "a 100 year old trucking company"(this phrase, along with "bailout," is used several times throughout the site.):

The bailout bottom-line is this: What’s the difference between a 100-year-old trucking company and a modern airline that flies packages around the world every night? Answer: everything. Yes, both carry parcels and packages, but how they do it is obviously and vastly different.

UPS’ bailout would shoehorn FedEx Express – an airline created in 1971 focused on next-day delivery of essential goods and documents around the world – into the same operating rules as a 100-year-old trucking company. FedEx Express and other airlines operate just fine under airline regulations, but UPS doesn’t like competition. Keep in mind, UPS chose to form as a separate trucking company for its pickup and delivery operations.

So “Big Brown” is throwing around its political weight and seeking a bailout from Congress, so that it can saddle its only remaining U.S. competitor with the effects of its own decisions. And at the end of the day, all of us who rely on overnight-deliveries – medicines, paychecks, critical replacement parts, essential inventory, and the like – pay the cost.

According to Business Week, which isn't generally regarded as a hotbed of radicalism, Fedex objects to the legislation in question because it would make it easier for their employees to unionize. They also note that Obama has gone out of his way to praise Fedex's CEO, Frederick "Winkie" Smith for bold, innovative, blah blah blah. Actually, I don't remember what Obama praised him for, because after a certain point, even in print, Obama's I-never-met-a-Reaganite-I-didn't-like blather gets to be too much for me. But then again, maybe I just don't fully appreciate how bold and forward-thinking our president and his jet-setting friends are.

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At February 11, 2010 1:09 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

Nice post Jonathan. Clearly Obama is impressed with the big money people, they have his ear. I told them to give it back to Obama but you know how those guys are.

I’m quite sure FedEx would not like to see their employee’s go union. The corporations can afford to lobby in Washington but without unions who is going to lobby for the working class?

At February 11, 2010 6:54 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Rob, the Biz Week article is actually pretty informative, and I'll admit I never would have looked for it if not for the FedEx anti-Brown ad in my email sidebar. Sometimes I think that US journalism discusses domestic politics more frankly in the business section, as it were, because they're less concerned that people who aren't 'on board' will accidentally read what they have to offer about the machinations revolving around domestic policy-making.

Maybe the papers need to also have a military section as well as a business section, so we could read more about US foreign policy.

At February 11, 2010 8:44 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

That was a good article, certainly better than some things I’ve seen in the Times and the Post. You may be correct about the business section being more honest though I don’t know how you could quantify that. In a way the whole newspaper of any given news outlet is a military section being that war always means more profit for them. More people read the news when there is a good juicy war in progress so the news media is always happy to promote more war. They have certainly handled Obama with a lot of respect and I wonder if they would see it the same if Obama had really been a peace candidate.

At February 11, 2010 8:46 PM, Blogger Bob In Pacifica said...

Having worked in the Post Office for a very large segment of my life, I am familiar with both UPS and FedEx and their lobbying.

Whenever the USPS had any kind of rate adjustment, up or down, UPS and FedEx would both show up arguing for the best outcome for themselves, which usually meant the worst outcome for the Post Office (and the American public).

Of course, the Post Office itself, from Nixon on, became more and more the handmaiden of business and less of a service for the citizenry. The theory was that if the postman was going to walk through the neighborhood and only deliver a letter to every third house, why not have him deliver advertisements to every house? Thus the birth of junk mail.

From Reagan on the USPS Board of Governors has been packed not only with people who've wanted the service to function as a delivery service for advertisements, but many of the appointees have been ideologues who actually want to destroy the service and sell off the profitable parts to private interests. I'm surprised that it has survived the last 30 years. I am convinced that Reagan tried to force a strike in the mid-eighties as a PATCO II. Very ugly times.

What else is new?

At June 16, 2010 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unions are legalized mafias. The working class, if they dont like their job, can, GUESS WHAT?! Find a new one. Companies who treat their workers like crap get crap productivity. Thats called capitalism. Unfortunately, we have too many cry-babies in america who feel entitled to wealth without actually working for it: ie, unions.


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