Mr. Blunt and Cranky was reminded of this old saying while listening to the latest Postal Service brouhaha. For those who have not heard the noise, here is a brief recap: the Posties are broke; indeed, they are as broke as the Ten Commandments. And every time they try something to fix their problem, all Hell breaks loose.

This is because the agency is required to be “partly pregnant”: a constitutionally-mandated government agency that is simultaneously expected to run itself like a private business. That is confusing enough as it is, but wait- there’s more.

The USPS is required by law to serve everyone, anywhere in the U.S., no matter how remote, at the same price, quality and speed. Oh, and Congress can veto many actions of the USPS, and add additional mandates as it sees fit, whenever Congress takes a fancy to.

The USPS tried to cut costs by closing and consolidating under-used post offices. They got smacked down. They tried other ways to save money, and got spanked again. Notice that private concerns like FedEx did similar things to become leaner and meaner, and no one turned a hair.

So we have a government agency, regulated to a ludicrous degree, that is expected to somehow compete with lightly-regulated private-sector businesses like FedEx and UPS. That’s like expecting a duck-billed platypus to outrun a thoroughbred at Churchill Downs.

You can’t be partly pregnant. You can’t be partly private or partly public either. Demanding that the Postal Service be held to two incompatible standards is like baking a Limburger-sour-cream-chocolate-and-onion birthday cake with ketchup icing: you can make it, but no one will be happy with the results.

Mr. B & C