Starting in August the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will stop delivering mail on Saturdays to save $2 billion annually.Many believe the USPS is hemorrhaging money because it’s an outdated, inefficient, and overly bureaucratic operation that should be privatized.
First, some facts. The USPS:
• is an independent branch of the federal government.
• began in 1775, when Benjamin Franklin appointed the first Postmaster General through the Continental Congress.
• handles 40 per cent of the world’s mail while receiving no taxpayer dollars.
• is the core of the trillion dollar mailing industry that provides jobs for more than 8 million people.
• reaches every address in the nation, which comprises 151 million residences, businesses and P.O. boxes.
• is funded by the products and services it sells, which include delivering a letter from a small town in Alaska to a farm in Maine for 46 cents.
• ranks as the fourth most trusted company in the U.S. and the most trusted government agency (for the seventh year in a row).
• if it were a private sector company it would have ranked 35th in the 2011 Fortune 500.
• is most important to America’s poorest communities — while 80 per cent of the 3,830 post offices under consideration for closure are in poor rural areas.
• has been required to break even since 1970 (unlike other government agencies such as the military).
• is the only federal agency or private company required to pre-fund retiree health benefits for 75 years, which means that it is required to pay $5.5 billion annually to the Treasury.
Furthermore, the USPS has over-paid its obligations to the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) by an estimated $50 billion and has over-funded the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) by approximately $6.9 billion. If these funds were returned, the service would be profitable.
Lastly and most importantly, the USPS has attempted to evolve with the times, but Congress — at the behest of private companies and special interests — has continually restricted its ability to raise rates, enter new lines of business, or take other steps to help it raise revenue.
Taking these realities into account, there’s no justification for letting private industry (with the help of Congress) commandeer America’s messenger.
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