Option 4

Although there has been ample amount of subjects covered in Paul Starr’s The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communication, I realized that there wasn’t much to say about small businesses trying to take over the post office and their services too much. There was only a small section of it that was very lightly touched upon in a sentence on page 38 of his book. (At least when talking about England). It references that a man named William Dockwra had started a penny post in London, but it had been taken over by the post office some two years after he begun it, but not much else on the matter. [1] I wonder why that there wasn’t more talk about companies trying to privatize the postal system to make money for themselves. It couldn’t have been an idea that somebody hadn’t thought of before.

In the world that we live in today, especially the capitalistic one that Americans are so used to, it’s hard not to think about how people hadn’t wanted to capitalize more on the postal system when it had begun, so long ago, for personal profit. Is it just me having a very modern way of thinking that finds it hard to believe that not once was somebody willing to fight for the right to profit off of the post? I mean we live in a world where the institution of medicine is both in a public and private domain. A lot of hospitals are non-profit and don’t turn people away, or people are able to get health insurance because the government will supply it for them. Yet, there is the flip side where some hospitals are for-profit and then you also have private persons that are able to create a drug that could help with life threatening allergic reactions (*cough* EpiPen *cough*) or that could help with AIDS (*cough* Marin Shkreli *cough*). So the government can help with health care one way but not the other… Why isn’t it the same with the post office?

The post office is completely run by the government. I understand that there are laws in place that make it so, but how were they made? Why was it so important that the government make laws that made the post office completely government controlled? Were there ever lawsuits or protests by any of the entrepreneurs that had wished for their own way of using the postal system for their own profits and benefits? Were these people paid off, or did their governments simply stamp them out (pun intended)?

I feel like there was so much information about the creation of the postal systems regarding trade and laws past for it, but not exactly how people may have viewed it as a way of income. It would’ve been really cool to learn about instances where people were maybe able to skip around the law and create their own ‘branches’ of services, or if there had ever been an attempt to do so. Even if we had learned more about the one instance on William Dockwra’s failed attempt to do just that. How did it come down to the post office taking control of his penny post business? Was it by legal means or business means? Was there instances in which the post office had attempted to help pay people to set up their own postal businesses to get the whole system expanded, and then swoop in and take it away?

It’s all so interesting to me that there wasn’t much more of this type of thing mentioned. Sure, it was mentioned, but I would’ve liked discussing it a bit more in depth.







[1] Paul Starr, The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communication. New York: Basic Books, 2006.


3 thoughts on “Option 4

  1. Holly, that is a great point that I came across as well! I find that one of the most interesting things that makes learning about this realm of society in terms of it as a business is in relating it to the present day. Especially because the present day, by the way in which post has become privatized through businesses like UPS and FedEx, may prove to make the functions of the Post Office no longer necessary. I think the reason why the Post Office was so controlled by the government was because it was a direct product of progress being facilitated by those in power. We see during the pre-Civil War era how the Post Office was founded on the ideas presented by the First Amendment with freedom of speech and how such a notion was a selling point about how democratic America was at the time. We then see that change in the post-Civil War era when such a freedom, when layered with cheaper printing rates and a panic based around sexuality and obscenity, was seen as something that could ruin the democracy that America had fought so hard to protect. Also, outside of your example, the only other example of the privatizing of post I can think of brings be back to the beginning of the course when we discussed Native American’s monetarily benefitting off of private mailing ventures. While I don’t think my example can completely relate to your example they could potentially be categorized in the same real of falling outside of the government subsidiaries surrounding the Post Office, even though at that time I do not believe the Post Office was fully entact.


  2. Holly, that article that you included about the man who jacked up the price of medication to make a larger profit amazed me. The fact that there are people in this world that are making an impact on something as huge as AIDS medication and choose to become selfish and profit off of it, I will never truly understand. I did like the quote however, that says “no one wants to say it…but this is a capitalist society” and they are completely right. I think issues like this should be exposed more and people should be charged, like these people were and pay for their selfish actions.


  3. Interesting point. I wouldn’t have thought of that on my own. Perhaps proprietors felt that it was easier to let the government run the post office, and that their businesses benefited a lot just by using it. Even so, I think you’re right; it’s hard to imagine that there wouldn’t be some people who would try to privatize and make a profit off of the postal system. Maybe this is an area that demands more research.


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