Well, no surprise that the U.S. Postal Service is at it again. No, we’re not talking about delivering the latest fliers, magazine subscriptions and credit card pitches to your door. It’s losing money. Lots and lots and lots of money.
How much money, you ask?
It showed a net loss of $1.3 billion between January and March. We can all agree that’s a lot. That’s well up from the same time frame in 2017, when it lost $562 million, which it blamed on rising fuel and labor costs.
For the nine years from 2007 to 2015, the Postal Service lost about $55 billion. One wonders how such an operation stays open. Most entities that suffered such losses would have to close their doors. But this is a government agency, after all. And we all know that no matter how much debt piles up, the government will just keep spending while casually announcing it’s just part of the rising cost of doing business. If you look at government budgets at any level, they generally keep increasing, even though you will notice little or no increase in service.
But we digress.
Now, before we go on, we want to point out the Postal Service, which is not funded by taxpayers, didn’t always lose money. It used to make money. But then folks began using the Internet to send letters and started relying more and more on UPS and FedEx for shipping packages. And before you could lick another stamp, the Postal Service was drowning in stacks of bills.
We also want to point out we appreciate the efforts of the Postal Service employees. They are hard-working and dedicated folks. Many have committed their lives to being sure the mail gets through, whether that be rain, snow, storms or sunshine. They are your neighbors, your family, your friends.
So what’s the problem now with the Postal Service?
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump established a task force to study why the Postal Service is losing money. That seems like a perfectly reasonable move.
“The USPS is on an unsustainable financial path and must be restructured to prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout,” the executive order reads.
Correct on both counts.
Yes, that’s you, the taxpayer, who will end up holding the mailbag. That is more likely to happen than not.
No final decisions have been made yet. And the Postal Service points out that its financial woes began with the 2006 law that requires it to prepay benefits to the tune of about $6 billion a year, which is a reasonable argument.
This task force doesn’t sit well with postal workers and their families, who spent part of the Columbus Day holiday protesting because they believe the White House is ultimately trying to make the U.S. Postal Service into a private venture, which frankly makes sense, considering the current state it’s in and the state of today’s delivery services.
Trump, a businessman more than a politician, is not one to tolerate an agency that is losing billions with no sign of turning things around. While he has railed about Amazon costing the Postal Service money, it would seem just the opposite. Without all those packages, the Postal Service would be even more in the red. Better leave Amazon alone.
The Associated Press reported that, in Chicago, workers rallied Monday near a downtown post office, carrying signs reading “U.S. Mail, Not For Sale” and “We Belong To The People, Not Corporate America.”
Good thing they don’t belong to corporate America. If they did, they wouldn’t be in business.
If you have doubts deliveries can be done so well as to be in the black, just check the earnings reports of UPS. But again, UPS doesn’t deliver advertisements and fliers. They deliver packages in such a way that they actually earn money.
In Washington, American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein told a crowd that privatization will mean less service and higher costs to taxpayers.
Really, how much would we suffer if mail was delivered, say, four days a week? And as for package delivery, competition between UPS and FedEx is pretty fierce already. Adding another delivery company to the mix would seem to push prices down, not up. And let’s face it, much of what comes in the mail are bills, advertisements. Thank you and birthday cards, while always nice to receive, are a bit rare these days, and no reason to support an agency losing billions every year.
Remember, the Postal Service announced it is closing the Lihue post office to save money, and will condense operations with its annex near the airport.
So, a task force to study what ails the Postal Service, and what can be done to fix it, would seem wise. One of the things the task force reviewed is the expansion and prices of package delivery, one area the Postal Service has shown an increase and shows promise. Again, take a look at UPS for a model of how to do this.
The task force, it was reported, has delivered its report on reforming the Postal Service to the White House, which plans on making it public after the November general elections.
Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, however, does not agree.
“To the more than 2,000 hardworking employees of the U.S. Postal Service in Hawaii, I stand in solidarity with you and strongly oppose President Trump’s push to privatize the U.S. Postal Service. Privatization means prioritizing profits over people. President Trump’s plan would hurt low-income and rural communities in Hawaii because servicing these areas is often less profitable than urban areas. Cutting or outright ending services would be devastating to so many communities throughout Hawaii and the country. We must stand together against yet another harmful effort by the President to hurt workers and our communities.”
While we appreciate the senator’s concerns, and applaud the dedicated Postal Service employees, the financial woes of the Postal Service can’t continue to be simply ignored because it is a government agency. If the senator has a proposal that could turn things around for the Postal Service, we and many others would love to hear it. Until then, we hope changes are coming to the Postal Service and the task force recommendations are sound and are implemented.