Press "Enter" to skip to content

Not to OD on the bad news …

Read this shocker in a “Mike Rogers column this morning:

We wrapped the packages and took them to the post office to send to the USA this morning. Alas, while at the post office, we were told that the US Department of Homeland Security has stated that there can be no more mailing of packages that weigh over 1 pound unless we can provide the Social Security number of the recipient.

Mike was trying to mail gifts from Tokyo to Arizona. Unable to get a simple gift into the U.S., he compared our country to North Korea or Japan in its pre-Perry isolationist period.

There’s so much damnable news about our freedom in the U.S. — particularly our freedom to travel or have other doings with the world outside our borders. What Mike Rogers said would be alarming, if true.

Turns out it is true. But only sort of. Fortunately we dodge the biggest bullet for now. After Googling fruitlessly for half an hour and trying to send an email to USPS customer service using an online form that is (are you surprised?) cleverly designed not to allow you to actually, you know, send the message, I found no new rule or regulation, either from the USPS or the DHS.

Here’s what I did find, finally. In a Japan Times article:

Those who plan on sending Christmas gifts to the United States this holiday season may want to think twice now that parcel delivery companies are restricting U.S.-bound mail at the behest of airlines complying with new U.S. counterterrorism measures.

The extent of the restrictions varies with each company, but U.S. aviation authorities are expected to maintain them for the time being, throwing a kink into the gift-giving season as 2010 prepares to wrap itself up. …

Japan Post Services Co. stopped accepting U.S.-bound airmail weighing 453 grams (1 pound) or more on Nov. 17. The restriction applies to parcels sent to the U.S. or its territories, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but will not apply to parcels shipped by sea or by regular customers who use a service that allows them to pay for delivery afterward.

A Japan Post representative said the carrier delivers an average of 16 million parcels a year to the U.S. and that about 2.5 million of them, or 200,000 parcels per month, are expected to be affected by the new weight limit.

So it’s a tiny bit less alarming than Mike Rogers (one of my favorite, of many favorite, LRC writers) saw it. It’s not the Department of Homeland (Achtung!) Security preventing packages from reaching the U.S. It’s not a blanket restriction imposed by terrorist fiat. It’s a Japan Post decision — but of course it’s inspired by the recent package-bomb threat, coupled with ongoing hysteria and over-reaction by U.S. businesses, driven by the DHS.

Is the U.S. slowly closing itself off from the rest of the world, in paranoia and xenophobia? Yep. The noose tightens. But it’s not that tight. Yet. Those of us who like to order from international sellers on eBay can still get our cheap electronic junk from Hong Kong for a while yet, and our pretty tapestries from India. Your friends and relatives abroad may still be able to send Care packages through the U.S. iron curtain, if they’re clever and patient. It’s just a question of how. It’s just getting a leeeetle bit more difficult every day. It’s not impossible. Yet. And given the millions and billions of import dollars at stake, it probably won’t become impossible. For a while.

I used to fly into high dudgeon over every new rule, regulation, or law that threatened to restrict freedom. But you know, you just can’t keep that up without your blood pressure eventually popping. Your head will explode. Your brains will exit your ears and splatter all over innocent bystanders.

It’s hard to find the proper balance between righteous indignation and freedomista combativeness and downright paranoia about every new bit of news.

But it’s necessary. For both sanity and freedom.

Meantime, shame on the cowardly airlines and courier services. And shame on the DHS for keeping them cowed. We’ve already lost “the land of the free.” And — laughable and tragically — we sure ain’t “the home of the brave” any more.


  1. Teresa Sue
    Teresa Sue November 30, 2010 7:23 am

    That is the conclusion I have come to also Claire. It’s just really a balancing act and it’s hard to know when to walk away…..

  2. Big Wooly
    Big Wooly November 30, 2010 9:00 am

    Let us know when it’s time, Claire! We’re waiting.

  3. Michael
    Michael November 30, 2010 9:39 am

    I was told of the same limitations in the Czech Republic about packages over 1lb – all heavier packages must go by ship. After some searching online, it seems the Czech Post has decided this “on recomendation from the US DHS” and claimed that they weren’t the only European country implementing such a limitation.

    Funny though, you can still send what ever you want if you use UPS or FedEx…those American firms are not limited by such ‘regulation’. 🙂

  4. Claire
    Claire November 30, 2010 11:53 am

    Michael — Sigh. Thanks for sharing. 🙁 Interesting to know the absurdity is spreading.

    This seems so typically weird! This whole fooraw on package sizes allegedly came about because of the recent “package bomb” scare. But … erm, wasn’t one of the carriers involved in that … UPS? So foreign post offices, that weren’t involved, now have ridiculous limitations. But UPS, which was involved, doesn’t?

    Don’t get me wrong; I think the entire business of limitations is nuts — and all the more so for coming right at the Christmas mailing season. But that makes it even nutsier.

  5. bumperwack
    bumperwack November 30, 2010 1:39 pm

    I was just wonderin what big sis & friends are gonna give us this year

  6. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 30, 2010 2:54 pm

    It’s been a lot of years since I got a package from overseas, and will probably be a lot more years before it happens again, but just sending things to my grandsons in California is enough of a trial to raise the blood pressure.

    I mostly send things UPS, but if your package is very small, it is much more expensive than the subsidized USPS.

    So, today for the first time in ages, I stashed my trusty shootin’ iron in the car and went into the post awful to mail two itty bitty things.

    Then I got the heck out and properly dressed again when I made it into my car. I don’t have to go to the airport to feel naked… sigh

  7. naturegirll
    naturegirll November 30, 2010 3:39 pm

    But yet it’s still ok for China to send us lead filled items, without a second thought……

  8. Scott
    Scott November 30, 2010 4:01 pm

    In a way, news is just fact-based(or supposedly fact based)pre-packaged entertainment. I tend not toget bent out of shape about it. Same goes for talk shows-they’re just someone’s opinion passed off as entertainment. Just more drama. Life is good,and you really don’t have to look far to see the decent aspects.
    Why is it that the typical government response to any crisis, real or otherwise, is to create a bunch of laws/regulations/taxes/enforcement agencies/whatever that in no way diminishes the crisis or so called crisis? Are they all affected with a terminal inability to think even a little ahead? Fortunately, you can ignore a lot with little or no consequence..

  9. Winston
    Winston November 30, 2010 6:46 pm

    Huh…I thought TSA was the only agency that gave you trouble about how big a package you could bring into the country…

Leave a Reply