The US Postal Service is broken and a drain on taxpayers.
Note: I am in the middle of a 6+ month fight with my local post office, which clouds my opinion on this a little bit (I complained about some packages delivery in December and since then I have not really been able to get my mail delivered at all).
One way to look at this is the USPS and postal delivery is a public good, so the ongoing suck from the US taxpayers is acceptable.
On the other hand, the Taxpayer’s purse isn’t meant to be a charity.
My entire adult lifetime the USPS has been failing and nothing serious has been done fix this.
If our federal leaders can’t fix USPS, can we really expect them to fix anything else?
Fun excerpts from the Business Week article:
Since 2007 the USPS has been unable to cover its annual budget, 80 percent of which goes to salaries and benefits. In contrast, 43 percent of FedEx’s (FDX) budget and 61 percent of United Parcel Service’s (UPS) pay go to employee-related expenses.
The USPS has stayed afloat by borrowing $12 billion from the U.S. Treasury. This year it will reach its statutory debt limit. After that, insolvency looms.
This should be a moment for the country to ask some basic questions about its mail delivery system. Does it make sense for the postal service to charge the same amount to take a letter to Alaska that it does to carry it three city blocks? Should the USPS operate the world’s largest network of post offices when 80 percent of them lose money?
How about less post offices…AND have longer consumer-open hours?
Democrats receive the vast majority of the contributions made by postal workers’ unions, according to campaign finance records, so they tend to be sympathetic. President Barack Obama inserted a proposal in his 2012 budget to absolve the USPS of $4 billion of its retiree health-care liabilities in 2011. This would enable it to slog through another year without extraordinary changes.
Indeed, many other countries have figured out profitable ways to run a postal service. The U.S. could learn a lot from them. Yet hardly anybody is talking about this, except for Herr.
What’s more, Donahoe wants to close post offices and move some of their operations into convenience stores and supermarkets, where nonunion workers can staff them. The USPS is targeting 2,000 of its 31,871 post offices. That’s not much for an agency that’s nearly $15 billion in debt. Donahoe says he’s doing what he can, despite a federal stricture that forbids the closing of post offices solely for economic reasons. He tells anybody who will listen on Capitol Hill that the prohibition makes little sense at a time when his agency’s coffers are nearly depleted.
The USPS has historically placed the interests of its unions first. That hasn’t changed. In March it reached a four-and-a-half-year agreement with the 250,000-member American Postal Workers Union, which represents mail clerks, drivers, mechanics, and custodians. The pact extends the no-layoff provision and provides a 3.5 percent raise for APWU members over the period of the contract, along with seven upcapped cost-of-living increases. The union is happy. “Despite the fact that the postal service is on the edge of insolvency, the union and management have reached an agreement that is a ‘win-win’ proposition,” said APWU President Cliff Guffey on the union’s website. A USPS spokeswoman said the agency agreed to the raise because it feared the decision would otherwise be made by an arbitrator who might be even more deferential to the union.
So, like many GOV units, the USPS is oriented toward the Democrat-Gov-Union Complex instead of running as a consumer oriented solvent enterprise.
Filed under: Public Policy |