Going Postal

Good news everyone! The US Postal Service didn’t lose $5.2 billion this quarter like it did last quarter! It only lost $740 million. That’s in three months. That brings the 9 month total now to $3.9 billion. Do these numbers sound absurd to you? They should, anyone that knows the first thing about running a business will know that bleeding billions of dollars each year is no way of running a company successfully.

The US Postal Service, unfortunately, is unlike any normal business out there. I say unfortunately because I personally feel that postal services should have never been a government entity to begin with. A completely privatized postal service offers competition, innovation, and more power to the consumer. With the US Postal Service, there has been little to no innovation and strive for efficient and profitable mail delivery. Instead, they have been in a tailspin in recent years scrambling to find what went wrong and how to fix it.

First, FedEx and UPS have surpassed the USPS in every category from customer service, timely service, available options, and often price. Secondly and more importantly, the idea of physical mail is becoming more and more irrelevant each year.  How many bills do you pay physically each month, instead of online? How many pieces of mail that you get are actually important things you need? A majority of correspondence is now being handled on the internet and using modern technology. The US Postal Service, unfortunately, is going the way of the Pony Express as society sees it as unnecessary in the digital age.

The worst part of this is that we the people are paying taxes to keep the USPS in business!

Just recently the USPS was given a $15 billion loan from taxpayers to pay health care benefits to retired workers. It has burned through that and will most likely default on the loan, something it has done twice before. The company wants Congress to pass legislature that would end Saturday delivery, but that would only save an estimated $2 billion per year. Unions are even pushing Congress to do away with the convoluted system of paying retired workers health care benefits.

Regardless of what solutions they come up with, the problem in the long run is that a government-run business that is becoming less and less relevant has nowhere to go but into bankruptcy. The privatization of the postal service would be the ideal solution, but until then I can only hope small steps are taken to avoid these colossal losses each quarter.

In the end the postal service is an iconic symbol of America and should be protected to an extent. But clearly the protection it has been given is being taken advantage of and unfortunately we, the taxpayers, pay the cost in the end.

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