No, The Post Office Isn’t Broken

Next time a friend, neighbor, relative or nosy complete stranger says something along the lines of, “You know what’s wrong with the post office, everything!,” feel free to refer them to this blog post, and these three points:

First, the Post Office isn’t run by the government. Like private carriers like UPS and FedEx, they receive money for helping disabled folks get their mail. They receive contracts and grants from the government, but so do plenty of private businesses. It’s an agency, but it’s independent. Since it’s regulated by the government, it has to play by certain rules that the private carriers don’t, like the fact that the post office is legally required to deliver to every address, increasing their labor costs. FedEx and UPS can decide to not accept a package for delivery if the address is outside their cost-benefit ratio. The cost for the post office to deliver a letter? 44 cents. FedEx and UPS will charge 10x for the same service.

Second, the deficit number of $5.5 billion is a lie. The post office actually makes a profit, but thanks to the 2006 Postal Accountability Enhancement Act , they are forced to fully fund their pension a full 75-years in advance for every employee. Think about that for second. Also, their aforementioned labor costs are based on the fact they have to have enough staff to cover every address, so of course they’re paying more. The problem is comparing the post office to the UPS and FedEx is nonsense – they’re two different business models. The post office is supposed to break even, not make a profit. Making a profit means increasing the costs of goods and services, which means say goodbye to 44 cent stamps.

Third, the post office is busy. 2006 was it’s busiest year. Ever. 2005 was the second. 2007 was the third. Letters have declined thanks to emails, but packages and parcels have increased thanks to Internet commerce. Netflix, eBay, these are services using the post office for their goods.

Like with most things, those railing against the post office (re: right wing assholes) simply want the same two things they always want: whore it out to private companies who will then monopolize a market, raise prices and reduce customer service quality, and smash a union. Because having a living wage and pension is bad, and everyone must be dragged down to the bottom.

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