The United States Postal Service has been an easy target of late. Last year they announced a $15.9 billion loss. This year they announced the coming end of Saturday service. The jokes never seem to end as people bemoan every bad experience they’ve ever had. Everyone thinks they can run it better. Everyone thinks it needs to privatize. Or get with the times. We send email for goodness sake.
It’s kind of annoying. I like the post office. Which is why this Esquire article is worth reading.
Nobody seems to understand that this isn’t entirely the fault of the United States Postal Service. The last time the USPS was in the black? 2006. Not so coincidentally, that’s when Congress forced the USPS to pay off 75 years worth of future retiree’s benefits in the next 10 years, something no other government agency has to do and something most private companies would spread out over 40 years or more. The result? 70% of the USPS’s loss last year—$11.1 billion—came from these future health care payments.
A $4.8 billion loss is still something, but it’s a lot more manageable out of a total budget of $81 billion. It’s not quite as dire.
The reality is that for all the complaints about the United States Postal Service, we forget what it really offers.
It connects everyone in the United States like nothing else. You can deliver a letter from one end of the country to the other for the same price as sending it across town. You can literally reach anyone in the country. The Postal Service is required to get the mail to people, even in rural areas, where Fed Ex and UPS rely on the Postal Service to go that last mile. Continue reading Connecting a Country: Don’t Slam the Post Office