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Postal Service Going Downhill

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 4
2/22/2013


By Taylor Ramsey

Here we go again with another wise Congressperson delivering another “feel good” statement and piece of legislation regarding the proposal by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to eliminate Saturday first-class mail delivery.

Congresswoman Waters has suggested her constituents will be disadvantaged and businesses will be in jeopardy of operating successfully if the Postmaster’s proposal is initiated. I am trying to figure out why I would be disadvantaged if my mail stops arriving on Saturdays. To be honest, I can’t think of one reason. Besides the normal “big” holidays most businesses observe, I have never worked for a company that also gave us a paid holiday for the four additional holidays government workers receive. Come to think of it, when returning home from work I never felt disadvantaged when my mail did not arrive on Veteran’s or President’s day and I don’t think the business I worked for felt that way either.

The Congresswoman then implies future employment at the USPS could be affected by going to a five-day delivery schedule. She even suggests the recession’s recovery period could be hindered due to lay-offs at the postal service. Of course lay-offs hurt the economy. However, forcing an organization like the USPS to keep losing money is not going to do any good if they continue throwing billions of dollars away.

In 2012 Congresswoman Waters produced the Protecting Post Offices Act (H.R. 3916) to reduce USPS operating costs which included keeping many rural post offices open and saving 28,000 jobs. She says that her legislation was supported by the American Postal Workers Union along with the AFL-CIO. Surprised? Is it not amazing that she and the unions can understand and suggest corrections for one of the largest operations in the world to bring operating costs onto the positive side of the balance sheet and save everyone’s job? She is either wise beyond comprehension or she just knows in her heart (thinks) her bill will work and she can save $15.9 billion.

Fact, the USPS lost $15.9 billion last year, most of that due to the health and retirement benefits the USPS is committed to maintaining. Here is a scary number too. In 2011 they lost $5.1 billion, which means in 12 months their losses increased by more than 300 percent. The removal of Saturday mail delivery will save about $2 billion, but the rest requires other cost savings in addition to addressing employee benefits. With losses like that, no business, no matter what an elected official determines, can survive without drastic changes. Another fact, first-class mail delivery has decreased 37 percent since 2007 and delivery of first-class mail has never shown an increase during that period.
Fact. The need for all current employees and equipment to remain has diminished. Cuts must be made.

The post office makes the claim they do not use government money to operate. Neither do the several companies I worked for in my past who have had to lay me off due to the decrease in business. It is one of the ways business survives in order to compete on another day. The time to think of the post office as another agency we must support no matter the cost is gone. If they want to operate like a business and be proud of the fact they do not use taxpayer dollars, then they must adjust to the marketplace as any other business must.

Congresswoman Waters, thanks to both sides of the political spectrum, the U.S. government is very near the point of no return regarding the national debt we have incurred. Even though the USPS does not take taxpayer money, they must adhere to rules and regulations established by Congress. Wow, the government agencies who have incurred $16 trillion in debt are providing direction to the post office. That fact alone is mind-boggling.

Congresswoman, I would suggest you keep your hands out of the business of delivering mail and let the postmaster do his best to move his organization back to the positive side of the ledger and compete. You have no business attempting to escort the USPS down the same stupid road of debt the Congress, Senate and past presidents have taken us.

Postmaster Donahoe, tell Congress to pound sand so you can get back to improving your business.

taylor@longbeachcomber.com