published Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Going nowhere fast

The U.S. Postal Service is too big.


The volume of correspondence sent by snail mail in this digital age is still in free fall, and the Postal Service has too many employees and too many underused post offices.

As a result, it is buckling under the weight of its financial unsustainability, losing billions of dollars per year. In response, the agency plans to begin closing numerous post offices in mid-May.

Naturally, that has Congress threatening to ride to the rescue with a bailout to keep the agency from having to slim down to a size that roughly corresponds to actual market demand for its services.

Ronald Reagan thus is proved right again. In 1986, he summarized the government's approach to the economy during the painful days of the Carter administration: "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."

The Postal Service might not have stopped moving altogether, but it's going nowhere fast. And there seems to be no prospect for the market suddenly to return to snail mail.

And yet, defying all reason and free-market principles -- you know, the things that made America an economic powerhouse -- the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would offer an $11 billion bailout to the Postal Service. The bill significantly would delay the closings of hundreds of mail-processing centers -- including the one on Shallowford Road in Chattanooga -- and thousands of post offices around the nation. In addition, it would keep the Postal Service from dropping from six- to five-day-per-week delivery anytime soon.

The proposed federal intervention to protect the Postal Service from, well, reality is a bit of a mystery even to the agency's board of governors.

"It is totally inappropriate in these economic times to keep unneeded facilities open," the board declared in a statement. "There is simply not enough mail in our system today. It is also inappropriate to delay the implementation of five-day delivery."

But the Democratic and Republican Senate sponsors of the bailout are not much interested in whether the Postal Service actually needs to be as large as it is. No indeed.

They have asked the agency to delay its plan to start closing underused post offices on May 15 to give the House time to approve the bailout, too.

Here is a better idea: Congress should stop bailing out quasi-governmental agencies, as well as private companies, when they founder or fail.

No more car company bailouts.

No more financial institution bailouts.

And no U.S. Postal Service bailout.

Consumers who won't willingly pay for particular goods and services in the free market shouldn't then be forced to do so in their role as taxpayers simply because the government can't deal with the fact that ours is a dynamic economy.

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joneses said...

The next time you go into a Post Office notice how disorganized they are compared to Fed Ex or UPS.

May 9, 2012 at 8:53 a.m.

joneses, I've noticed no difference at all. I've seen a package lost on a UPS truck for 6 months. I've seen one clerk sitting around while another has a line several people deep. My eyes tell me that they're no different.

But to the above, the USPS is not about serving a market. It's about serving the needs of the country. It is as essential a function of government as the military or the courts. The country has a duty to its citizens, and provision of the mail is one of the necessary and proper functions, how else will the government communicate with me about what it intends to do? That it provides a massive economic benefit is useful, but not the purpose of the service.

More to the point, the only reason the USPS is losing money is because they are being forced by a Republican-enacted law to allocate money in a way that no private business is required to do.

Repeal the law requiring them to pay for 70 years of benefits in advance, and they won't have the financial issues they're experiencing.

That's all Congress has to do. That's all. You can't complain that they should be run like a business, then run them in a way that isn't like any business would do things at all.

Why isn't that being done?

Perhaps because you want to starve government, shut it down, and replace it with your feudal oligarchy.

Thanks, but I pass.

May 9, 2012 at 11:01 a.m.
hambone said...

A lame duck GOP Congress passed a law requiring the USPS to pay retirement on postman that haddn't been born yet. A back door way to pay for un-funded wars and tax cuts.

May 9, 2012 at 2:04 p.m.
joneses said...


If what you say is true why did not obastard, pelosi and reid fix it when they had everything? You are telling another lie to blame obastards failures on something other than his sick ass. You are a fool.

May 9, 2012 at 3:45 p.m.

Probably because in reality-world, they didn't have absolute authority to fix the country, despite your delusion to the contrary.

I know it's hard to fathom, but they didn't have a magic wand.

You are telling the same lie you have told before, yet you expect anybody to believe it?

You continue to be a fool for your own overblown rhetoric.

May 9, 2012 at 4:29 p.m.
hambone said...

The recent Senate vote did a little to change the 2006 damage done by the GOP. It should be noted that GOP senators facing re-election vote no and those not facing re-election voted yes.

Alexander- yes/ Corker no

May 9, 2012 at 5:18 p.m.
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