Don’t Privatize the Postal Service

When all else fails, somebody always says  privatization is the panacea for all operations  the government can handle.

The latest example comes from  the National Academy of Public Administration which calls for studying whether  private enterprise should assume most of the U.S. Postal  Service’s functions except for having letter carriers deliver the “last mile” of mail directly to homes and businesses,

In other words, the study’s authors essentially want letter carriers to work for a private corporation but maintain the illusion of being employees of the most, if not only trusted federal government agency.

The authors of this study http://www.napawash.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/USPS-PB-WIP.pdf  do admit the USPS is the best existing entity to deliver mail to all residential  and business addresses in the country.  But they seem to think that private companies like United Parcel Service and similar firms can perform the rest of the USPS’s functions better and without “political interference.”

The panel authoring the study includes such people as former USPS Deputy Postmaster General John Nolan and former Postal Rate Commission Chairman Ed Gleiman (who should both know better) as well as George Gould, who was national legislative and political director of the National Assn. of Letter Carriers until 2006 and Ed Hudgins, director of Advocacy for the Atlas Society, which promotes the  philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Not only does this group think the private sector could run the USPS better, they also think this new model would lead to a smaller more streamlined service with fewer employees and lower costs. Maybe this whole plan is a cynical exercise designed to wipe out the USPS’s massive annual healthcare obligations for future retirees–a problem Congress created in 2006 .

Last year, the postal service defaulted on more than $11 billion of this obligation simply because it did not have the money.One has to wonder how much massive privatization would actually lower postal service costs.

It’s still uncertain how much money the much ballyhooed privatization of prisons, public schools and some non-combat-related military functions really saved.

And what assurances would we have that universal postal delivery across the country would survive in an organization  driven only by profit?

About five years ago, DHL, the package delivery arm of Deutsche Post, the largely privatized German postal corporation, decided to stop operations in this country because it couldn’t make enough money. A privatized USPS would be sorely tempted to reduce money-losing services here, too.

Let’s relegate this entire idea to the dead letter office.

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One Response to Don’t Privatize the Postal Service

  1. Lynn N says:

    I don’t think we can rely on people from an Ayn Rand-affiliated think tank to provide serious thoughtful proposals for the running of government. That ideology which extols the virtues of selfishness is not known for proposing good government ideas which would benefit the largest number of individuals and businesses in society. Rather, they seek to dismantle most of our cherished institutions and have private enterprise step in regardless of the consequences for the overall well-being of the society.

    Like

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