This originally appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera on December 3, 2011 in response to this question: The United States Postal Service is facing major financial constraints, and it is forecasting a record $14.1 billion loss for fiscal 2012. … What do you think the USPS should do?
Break free, USPS! Leave your over-protective and controlling parent: the U.S. government. Yes, the perks are nice. The Feds grant you monopolies on mail delivery and mailbox access. They exempt you from costs such as vehicle licensing, parking tickets, threats of antitrust suits, and taxes on sales, income, and property. The fifteen billion dollar U.S Treasury credit line is nice, too.
But Federal controls cripple you. The Feds make you deliver mail almost everywhere, six days a week, while restricting your ability to increase prices. Freedom to adjust prices and deliver on fewer days would save billions annually. Three of four Post Offices lose money. But U.S. Code prohibits closing them “solely for operating at a deficit,” and Congress must approve any layoffs.
Further, you must pre-fund your retirees’ health benefits, which your Postmaster General says is “effectively bankrupting” you. Yes, USPS retirees get health benefits! As your website says, “federal statutes hamper [your] ability to craft a market-based benefits package.” Indeed. DownsizingGovernment.org describes how your employees enjoy a “postal pay premium” between 20% and 35% compared to comparable private-sector employees.
USPS, listen to what Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, wrote ten years ago. Ending “monopolistic protections and special treatment enjoyed by USPS” would “benefit … postal customers, postal employees, and businesses in the delivery sector. … Unless we unshackle USPS and allow it to leverage its infrastructure effectively as a normal privately owned company, then USPS will sadly fade away as it becomes increasingly irrelevant in the marketplace.”
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Thanks to Ari Armstrong for the Jared Polis reference.