What should we do with a quasi-government agency that supplies a vital service to a small percentage of the American people but is becoming more expensive and less timely as time goes on?
The United States Postal Service once helped connect this continental country from end to end. For many, it was their only connection to the outside world. Even today, remote areas of Alaska with no internet or phones are connected to the rest of us only via the post office.
But maintaining a postal service that can service areas like that as well as compete in the larger world of package delivery is proving to be a ghastly expense. There are a few million people living too far from a pharmacy who need the postal service to supply them with medicines they need to live. But outside of a few pockets of shut-ins and rural residents, the necessity of the USPS has vanished.
The Postal Service has a deal with Congress to relieve the USPS of a $5 billion a year payment for health and pension benefits. It’s contingent on maintaining Saturday delivery and continuing service to rural areas. The Postal Service Reform Act would separate 2 million postal workers and retirees from the federal program, creating a smaller, riskier pool of participants thus raising premiums on some workers.
There’s no doubt that a private carrier could deliver mail to urban areas, do it more cheaply, and probably quicker. But privatizing the postal service is not the total answer and until Congress can come up with a viable solution, the American taxpayer is stuck with supporting an albatross.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has come up with a 10 year plan that he says could put the USPS on a path of fiscal sustainability. You may remember DeJoy as the Trump crony who tried to deliberately slow the mail delivery and sabotage the election. Of course, he did no such thing but it sure looked good on a TV commercial. As for putting the USPS on the road to achieving fiscal sanity, many experts will believe it when they see it.
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