Privatize the Post Office!

By: Daniel Nardini

In late September, I mailed off a postal money order for a gift subscription to a magazine for my father. The magazine company got my gift subscription a month and a half after it was sent. The editor of the company told me, “Are we living in a Third World country?” I could not argue with his frustration. Just a few days ago, my wife and I mailed out a birthday card to the wife of a good friend of mine living in Taiwan. Instead of paying eighty cents for mailing off a letter, it now cost $1.05 for mailing off a letter overseas. In other words, the postage rate increased by twenty-five cents. I have been noticing it actually now take a first class letter to get from one place to the next in four or five days even if the letter only went from where I live to other mid-western states. To top off my frustration, several post offices have had their hours reduced. Hence, it is making it far more difficult for me to go and mail anything. I also question the logic of the U.S. post office. If the post office curtails its hours, then how can these places make money at all to off-set the costs of running the local post office branches? It all becomes a vicious cycle—the more hours and services cut, the more money the post office will lose.

Welcome to the not-so modern U.S. post office. Just last week, U.S. Post Office Postmaster and chief executive director Patrick Donahoe reported to the U.S. Congress that the post office lost $15.9 billion in revenue. From the lousy service I have been given, this comes as no shock to me. It just makes me sad, frustrated and bitter. Since U.S. President Barack Obama took office, I have seen the post office in terms of quality of service and in how it does its job go downhill. Not surprisingly, the Congress is demanding that the post office overhaul itself. I believe that a further step should be done and that is privatizing the whole U.S. post office itself. Long ago, I used to be against doing this. I feared that whole branches of the post office would be shut down, that the post office would shorten its hours, and that post office branches in remote parts of the country would be permanently closed. It seems all of this is happening anyway. How can privatizing it be any worse? Where is all of the talk about improving the post office? Where is all the talk about making it competitive with the private sector and with the computer? Right now, I have seen the service simply getting worse.

Donahoe has one important point, and that is the Congress should change the law that mandates the U.S. post office must keep the pensions for those workers who have retired and to keep all benefits for all employees. No other branch of the U.S. government must do this. If the post office fails, then will it matter what benefits are there for anyone? I sympathize with postal workers who are afraid of losing their benefits. However, if you are about to lose your head, should you be arguing about how you look? No job equals no benefits. This is true in the private sector as it is true almost anywhere else. The U.S. post office must learn to adapt to the 21st Century. Perhaps putting it on a private footing might help.

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