Once again we have someone in a high place questioning whether we need a U.S. Postal Service.
In this case it comes from Newsweek magazine by way of the purportedly liberal Brookings Institution http://www.newsweek.com/do-we-need-postal-service-319243
But the opinion piece is penned Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a right-wing think tank that believes “free markets” are the panacea for all the world’s problems.
Kosar does concede the USPS “cannot be abolished; at least, not immediately.”
He should remember that, the U.S. Constitution mandates that Congress establish post offices and post roads. In 1792 Congress passed the Private Express Statutes which gave the then-Post Office Department a monopoly on the delivery of mail. These laws were amended in 1979 to allow private carriers to deliver mail under certain circumstances http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private Express Statutes\
Yes, these laws watered down the Private Express Statutes and allowed corporations to muscle in.
But to call for abolishing a public post office in favor of profit-making enterprises borders on the psychotic. For one thing, commercial mailers and other businesses still favor the USPS despite its defects.
Case in point: In 1988,–long before any postal reform legislation ever saw the light of day–the USPS was able to raise rates by 25%. This led to a movement to set up private delivery services, which soon fizzled out.
In the following years, many attempts were made to reform the USPS and establish a predictable rate increase structure. It took until 2006 for such legislation to pass and take effect.
But that law, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, also mandated that the USPS pay $5.8 billion a year to cover the healthcare costs of future retirees. Many have argued this was the first step in destroying the USPS. This obligation has certainly been a continued drag on its finances despite the USPS reporting a 4.3 percent increase in revenue, $754 million net loss for the quarter ended Dec, 31 http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2015/pr15_010.htm.
R Street’s proposals say nothing about what effect a privatized postal service would have on ordinary people who may not be all that technologically advanced. The USPS is supposed to serve everybody, remember?
For its part, R Street says it differs “from other groups on the political right in our dedication to building broad coalitions.”
If this is true, then why does this think tank offer unworkable extremist ideas that ignore the true needs of all the population?
It’s quite improbable the postal service will never be abolished. What’s more likely is that the USPS will continue to be watered down. This has been going on for a long time as the USPS continues to close post offices and distribution facilities, thereby reducing its highly unionized workforce. These moves are already running into public resistance.