This article in the NY Times today made me really sad. It basically sums up all the other articles I’ve been reading about the U.S. Postal Service nearing financial collapse. The article said that some people speculate that the USPS could actually close its doors later this year if they can’t get permission from Congress to do certain things like lay off workers (their union contract says they can not lay off any workers) or suspend Saturday delivery. In addition, the USPS is required by law to fully fund their pension system in a way that no other government organization and no private organization is required to do. It’s almost like the government has set the USPS up for failure. And many are saying we should just let the USPS die and let private organizations (like FedEx and UPS) handle it without even giving the USPS the flexibility to try some of the cost saving measures that could move it toward financial viability.
It’s strange how the federal government has a constitutional right to create and maintain a postal service (just like it has a right to maintain a navy), the USPS’s actions are controlled by Congress, but the USPS gets no government funding and relies entirely on the revenue it brings in to operate. I am hoping that all of the partisan games going on right now don’t get in the way of figuring out a workable solution for the postal service. Fully privatizing does not seem to me like a real option. A friend of mine who was just in Colombia for two months didn’t send postcards because that country does not have a national postal service and the private carriers were cost prohibitive.
The USPS is the great equalizer. If you can’t afford a computer or internet service, you can still get your checks via the mail, pay your bills via the mail, order your prescriptions and they’ll come to your door. The USPS makes the world accessible, at a very cheap cost, for everyone, and I hope that our elected leaders can come together and help save snail mail!