Postal Observers Must Shed Private Sector Myopia

Commercial elites in this country want to have it both ways. They’d like the USPS to (once again) become a profit-making institution because they feel that’s probably may be the best way to preserve the system. But they still want the postal service to continue providing essential government services to everybody.

Without saying so directly, PostalVision2020, a mail industry think tank exploring the future of the USPS, states that it may be useful to run the postal service “like a business”  because this might make it more efficient and viable in the years to come

In plain English, this means cutting costs and reducing services and yes, by strong implication, eventually privatizing it. The organization kind of sidesteps responsibility for its views by phrasing everything as a question.

If only these people could get over their biases that the private sector is always superior to the government

But the PostalVision2020 does concede the USPS’s interdependence and services to many other government agencies and its crucial role in the country.

Separately, this was confirmed in a study this summer from research group NPD Analytics which spelled out the degree to which not only the mailing industry and but national security and social welfare agencies—and the whole economy– depend on addressing, ZIP code systems and mapping systems

As if we really needed them to state the obvious.

While the industry think tank prognosticates from on high the USPS continues to whittle itself away by closing post offices and distribution facilities. Another big round of closures is set for early next year.

In so doing, the postal service keeps on cutting out union jobs and hiring more temporary and part –time employees. This reflects what American industry has been doing for more than 40 years: shipping high-paying union jobs offshore to save money and avoid safety regulations and taxes. By consequence or design, these moves have reduced labor’s power.

Maybe USPS management really thinks it can get along with fewer workers. It’s well-known that about 80% of the postal service’s expenses are on labor and certain mail industry groups are always complaining that the USPS is way overstaffed.

If this keeps up unchecked, the USPS could whittle itself out of meaningful existence.

And don’t expect any new legislation from Congress anytime soon. The last reform effort which culminated in the Postal Accountability and Reform Act of 2006 actually started in 1995.

At least in 2006, there was a bipartisan bill that could be, and was hashed out during the lame duck session in December. This brought about the abomination of the more than $5.8 billion the USPS had to pay each year to fund the healthcare costs of future retirees. This arbitrary obligation has contributed mightily to the postal service’s seemingly endless deficit.

But right now, there aren’t even any full House and Senate bills to work with.

One of the largest obstructions to postal reform has been Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA), outgoing Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, who has made no secret of his hostility toward unions and his desire to privatize the USPS.

None of his bills ever made it out of House committee.

In the new Congress which convenes in January maybe somebody with equal venom and fervor as Issa will step up to the plate. So far nobody has.

It’s way too early to tell. Who knows whether the GOP will have majorities in both houses or if postal reform will be on their radars?

This entry was posted in Congress, postal finances, U.S. Postal Service and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Postal Observers Must Shed Private Sector Myopia

  1. Lynn N. says:

    Run the Postal Service like a business? I guess it depends on what one means by that. For publicly traded companies, it means slashing employees & consolidating functions; reducing services to the public; setting up an office overseas to cut corporate taxes to the bone- all in the name of serving the shareholders. Of course, most of the “savings” go straight to the paycheck of the CEO, but never mind that. Could there be more efficiency in the Post Office? Probably, but almost certainly it wouldn’t be achieved by firing workers and closing stations.


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