Thursday, September 8, 2011

If America can't even reform its post office we're all in trouble

Doomsday clocks. Don't you just love them? It's hard to remember life without them because they've become so ubiquitous since the financial crisis. You can't fault their versatility: they can count both up and down while always managing to point firmly in the direction of economic armageddon.

The US has had plenty to choose from. There's the national debt clock in Manhattan that manages to tick relentlessly higher whatever the weather. Then last month's debt ceiling debacle saw a fresh line in these clocks break out on newspaper websites like a rash – all competing to count down to an unprecedented and ugly default by the US government.

Now September has handed Americans yet another. It sits on a website called postal.oversight.house.gov that was established by Darrell Issa, a Republican Congressman from California. At the time of writing, it tells readers that there are 23 days, 11 hours, nine minutes and 20 seconds until the US Postal Service defaults. So what, you might ask. As apocalypses go, a financial headache at America's post office doesn't have much on, say, the collapse of the euro or a second meltdown on Wall Street. more