Jesse Jackson, Jr. is freaking brilliant. When Larry King challenged him (well, not really, King never challenges anyone, particularly on the left) that people see the public option as health care by the Post Office, Jackson replied:
Look at it this way: There's Federal Express, there's UPS, and there's DHL "¦ The public option is a stamp; it's email. And because of the email system, because of the post office, it keeps DHL from charging $100 for an overnight letter, or UPS from charging $100 for an overnight letter.
This is really a weird view of the world, particularly given the history of how Fedex started. It's amazing, given this logic, that McDonald's doesn't charge $100 for a Big Mac, given that there is no government competitor in that market.
The reality of course is that the relationship works the other way around - Fedex and UPS keep the Post Office in check. Many of the Post Office's most recent service offerings were copied from UPS and Fedex. After decades of trying, the USPS still can't emulate these companies' most basic service offerings, such as offering door-to-door tracking of packages.
By the way, here is a graph of the USPS keeping a lid on the industry's costs (via Carpe Diem):
Also from Carpe Diem is this little service parable
The stamp vending machine at the downtown Flint Post Office no longer sells stamps, it sits there empty. Right next to the dark, empty vending machine for stamps sit two fully operational, bright and shiny vending machines, one for soft drinks and one for snacks, presumably owned and operated by a private, for-profit vending machine company (see photo above).