The Postman Never Thinks Twice

Today’s Drudge Report has a link to this piece from The Smoking Gun:

Plea In Post Office Pilferage: Man admits lifting 3012 Netflix DVDs from Massachusetts mail facility

SEPTEMBER 22–A postal worker who stole more than 3000 DVDs mailed by Netflix to its customers pleaded guilty yesterday to federal theft charges. Myles Weathers, who worked at a mail processing and distribution center in Springfield, Massachusetts, was nabbed last year for the video heist after Netflix officials became suspicious about the frequency with which DVDs were being pinched. Weathers, 49, was subsequently arrested after surveillance footage showed him removing DVDs from Netflix envelopes and placing the discs into his backpack. The below criminal information filed yesterday in U.S. District Court does not disclose whether Weathers was building an impressive home video library or planning to sell the hot titles. A plea agreement, an excerpt of which you’ll find here, valued the recovered 3012 DVDs at $36,471. Weathers, now a former government employee, is scheduled to be sentenced on December 23. While his felony plea carries a maximum of five years in prison, sentencing guidelines call for a term of about a year in custody (emphasis added).

To recap, a government postal worker pleads guilty to a felony for stealing Netfilx DVDs he could have rented for $7.95/month. I wonder if this might be an example of the “savings” President Obama talks about under the government healthcare plan.

Netflix’s inventory tracking system detected the pilfering fairly quickly. Then the authorities got involved. It probably took them a while to obtain a court order and set up hidden cameras for the sting. In the meantime, 3,012 Netflix DVDs were stolen. Makes you wonder how effectively a government-run healthcare system will deal with hospital employees pilfering controlled substances. There are savings to be had, but only if you look at things from the criminal’s point-of-view.

I wish I could find the link, but Mark Steyn wrote a piece some years ago regarding the government’s ineptitude keeping track of terror suspects. Beyond the government’s usual Inspector Clouseau fumbling, you have the Jamie Gorelicks intentionally creating Chinese walls to ensure the left hand can’t know what the right hand is doing. Despite billions spent on counter-terrorism, our government failed to prevent the 9/11 attacks even though weird conversations like this at flight schools were reported: “Just teach me how to fly the plane, infidel! I don’t need takeoff or landing instructions.”

Meanwhile the private sector has no trouble targeting products to specific customer interests. Steyn humorously noted that Amazon probably sent the 9/11 hijackers emails along the lines of “Dear Muhammad, As someone who recently purchased Death to Infidels by Mustapha bin Saudi, we thought you might be interested in Jihad Forever! from the same author.” Hilarious, if you don’t mind gallows humor.

To reiterate Steyn’s point, Amazon’s and Netflix’s systems cost a fraction of what the government spends, yet they gather pertinent intelligence more efficiently. Meanwhile, President Obama claims against overwhelming evidence to the contrary that a government-run healthcare system will be more efficient and more affordable than private insurance.

If you want to get a glimpse of what a government “option” would look like, check out the series Parking Wars on A&E. My good friend Sam C. (who really ought to have his own blog so I can link to him instead of plagiarising his ideas) introduced me to this reality series, which follows employees of the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), ticketing agents, booting and towing crew, and impound lot clerks. I’ve only caught snippets from a couple of episodes. In one, a pregnant woman’s car is towed while she was in labor. In another, a woman’s car keys are missing from the impound lot.

One surreal scene involved a clueless cashier at the impound lot. To retrieve one’s vehicle, in addition to paying the hefty impound fees, the owner must provide paperwork from the traffic court indicating they paid the fine, along with a valid driver’s license and insurance card. The PPA cashier at the impound lot inexplicably refuses to release the vehicle because the insurance policy effective date had passed. The clerk persists in his refusal even after the owner points out that the policy’s expiration date hasn’t lapsed.

The mixup is eventually straightened out, but what’s the car owner’s remedy if it isn’t? You can’t fight City Hall, and the hefty impound fees continue to accrue while you waste more time and effort trying to tell your side of the story to a municipal judge. The municipal judge may be marginally smarter than the impound cashier, but he is equally immune from being fired for incompetence. Who decides?

Bureaucrats get to decide who are the winners and losers, yet their decisions often resemble the fable of the crow who challenged the nightingale to a singing contest. A group of pigs agree to judge the competition. The nightingale sings a beautiful, haunting melody, while the crow loudly shrieks “Caw, caw, caw!” to raucous cheers from the bench. The pigs predicatbly declare the crow the winner. Afterwards, the disconsolate nightingale is seen crying. Another songbird tells her not to cry because she lost. The nightingale replies, “I’m not crying because I lost. I’m crying because the judges are pigs.”

They say the postman always rings twice (and steals 3,000 DVDs apparently), but under a single-payer system the government official always gets the last word. And the rest of us can either accept the pigs’ decisions and humbly eat crow, or we can go postal.

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