Dean Clough

February 21, 2022

Portico Darwin: Return to Sender

Today, I will vent on something that's bothered me for years.  Before, I didn't have a forum where I could publicly air these sorts of grievances.  That's no longer an issue - lucky you. 

OK - what has bothered me for years?  Junk mail.  Why does the United States government, A.K.A. you and me, subsidize junk mail?  At least now, with the Interwebs and stuff.


In other words, why can malignant corporations and benign non-profits alike both send stuff, and have the government deliver it to me personally, for less than it costs the US Postal Service (USPS) to do so?  Let alone the other costs you probably don't think about often, if ever?

The concept is simple:  anyone can sort and organize a mass-mailing into zip codes, and put them into special USPS trays so they're all ready to go in to my mailbox.  And then in to my trash.  It's officially called "Bulk Mail".  And the cost to send bulk mail is much less, because the sender does a lot of the work.  So what's my problem?

It's the environmental impact.  The entire program should be put into the recycle bin. 

Consider the energy used in a seemingly benevolent catalog:

  • Creating the raw materials - paper, inks, etc. etc. required for printing
  • Transporting the raw materials
  • Designing the catalog
  • Printing the catalog
  • Transporting the printed catalogs to where they're prepared for sending
  • Transporting the addressed and posted catalogs to a USPS facility
  • USPS transporting the catalog to my mailbox
  • Hauling our paper recycling bin full of junk mail to the dump

If everyone - including non-profits - had to pay first class rates to send us stuff so we can throw it away, the endless catalog, credit card, and retirement industrial complex (OK, it was the AARP stuff that sent me over the edge) mail would end.  Overnight.

Would there be a meaningful and negative impact on commerce, branding, or anything if bulk mail went away?  What would be lost if there was no longer junk mail in your mailbox? 

And don't get me started on Saturday mail service . . .


(The first one that brings up the NFT project I'm doing with my artist cousin Charlie, and the energy the Ethereum blockchain uses, gets a free subscription for life to the Pottery Barn catalog.  But you're right.)

This just in:  we had a wonderful evening last night at our home in SF with our great friend, Dr. Doreen Downs.  Apart from her questionable taste in art, she was the perfect dinner guest.  We look forward to welcoming her again to our place soon - thanks for making the trip, Dr. Downs!

My spiel on Canada brought quite an outburst from up near the Lombardian Border.  I give you the unvarnished musings of my neighbor and close pal Hunter Deuce.

"First, I'm not comfortable drawing comparisons between Ottawa and BLM protests.  Yes, the destruction and violence (with some of the violence at the hand of right-wing insurgents using the cover of BLM protesters to wreak havoc) associated with BLM protests was wrong.  Very wrong.  But POC have been victims at the hands of the police going back decades, hell - the origins of policing in the U.S. can be found in capturing runaway slaves.  So as long as we fail to address the many problems with the police in this country, BLM protests will happen whenever some goon with a badge goes to far and murders someone.

To compare this injustice to the anti-vax crowd throwing a tantrum about their 'freedoms' just doesn't wash with me.  And no, I'm not going to excuse it as 'economic anxiety' - even if a majority of Canadians are vaxxed, you still need to believe people when they say they're protesting over the vaccine as some kind of infringement on their 'freedom'.  Idiotic?  Yes.  But the same thing happened leading up to 2016 - Trump supporters were 'economically anxious' - this, despite the majority of Trump's base being older, white men who were - surprise, surprise, actually fairly well off financially.  Turns out it was just good old fashioned racism and xenophobia - a discomfort rooted in the fear of anyone who wasn't a straight, white, Christian male."

En fuego!  But I pointed out to the oft-literate Mr. Deuce that he was

"missing some nuance and also implying an equivalency that I did not make, between anti-vaxxers and the BLM movement.  The former are morons and latter have more than a case to argue.  But the morons get to protest just as much as BLM, but you can't blockade highways with your trucks nor loot stores."

To that he replied

"You know what? You're right. I did infer an equivalency that you didn't make, and that was wrong - my apologies.  I'm also not saying that the BLM protests were all peaceful - but I think that's a separate discussion."

Thank you, buddy.  And as usual, you made some excellent points.  And glad to hear the golf game is coming along!
Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.

Please Mister Postman, 86 the f'ing junk mail.  Here, on their second album, are The Beatles and "With The Beatles".


About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.