By Rebekah Rast
The United States Post Office lost $8.5
billion last year. If that were any private business, well, it
wouldn’t exist any longer.
But not the post office.
Despite a 20
percent decrease in mail volume from 2006 to 2010, and
package-delivery competition from UPS and FedEx, somehow the post
office stays afloat. But if it weren’t for the federal government
propping up the USPS and its first-class mail monopoly, today’s mail
system would look much different.
In an op-ed to the Wall
Street Journal, Gary MacDougal, writes, “With a well-managed
Postal Service wind-down, Fedex, UPS and others could easily and
efficiently pick up much of the volume. Some could also be handled by a
host of local delivery companies now serving most major cities. Fedex,
UPS, DHL, cargo airlines and others can handle long-distance and
international shipments. Entrepreneurs will see the demise of the USPS
as an opportunity, and new companies will emerge.”
Maybe cutting off the USPS and letting it run as an independent
business is just what this country and the post office needs.
As it is structured, it will be nearly impossible for the post office to
pull itself out of debt. If mail volume continues to fall while at
the same time there is an increase in the number of postal addresses, the cost to deliver
each piece of mail will continue to rise and revenue levels will not be
able to keep up. On top of this, the USPS had financial liabilities
and unfunded obligations of $88 billion in 2009.
And its latest mess was only partially resolved when Congress saved
the post office from going into default by extending the due date for a $5.5
billion payment due to the U.S. Treasury for retiree health benefits.
Also not mentioned are the labor union costs and payouts and the fact
that postal workers earn an average of 15 to 20 percent more
per hour than comparable workers in the private sector.
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