Tuesday, May 8, 2012

USPS: "She's dead, Jim."

Alternative Title: "USPS: It's all over but the screaming."

The US Postal Service looses around $25,000,000.00 per day.  Yes, you read that correctly: the US Postal Service loses enough for an individuals very, very comfortable retirement every single day.  Now, the US Government wants to take around $34,000,000,000.00 from the taxpayer and give it to this antiquated, backward enterprise.

Now, every time Conservatives have pointed out that the USPS needs to be abolished or, at least, forced actually to compete, we've been pooh-poohed and informed that they already have to compete, and that not a single taxpayer dollar was allocated to the Postal Service.  Now, even before this, that was a lie.  The Postal Service receives subsidies from the US Government.  Since the Government's only source of income is taxation, that means taxpayer dollars were already being used.  This, however, is beyond the pale.

There is no reason, except for antiquated measures and the employee's unions, that the USPS should be so underwater.  FedEx, DHL, and UPS don't seem to have a problem providing service and turning a profit.  So why is it that the USPS cannot?

Now, part of the "problem" is that paper mail is dying.  Virtually no one reads junk mail, anymore, and fewer and fewer people (yours truly excepted) receive paper bills.  So the demand for the only service the USPS provides, that no one else does, is way down.  Add in the Postal Service's absurdly high costs, and you have a recipe for disaster.

But why is the answer always to spend the taxpayer's money?  Whether its the Postal Service, or Social Security, or Medicare, or schools, or the big banks, or the automobile manufacturers, the Government's first reaction always seems to be, "spend money!"  How about this: don't spend money.  If the USPS can't meet its obligations, let it fail.  Allow other companies to carry letter type mail, and they'll find a way to do it.  If Social Security can't meet it's obligations, then maybe allowing private citizens the liberty of planning their own retirements (along with the responsibility for doing so) is the way to go.  If Chrysler and GM can't keep their own doors open, maybe we should allow them to close.

This sounds harsh.  It sounds hard.  It sounds "uncaring."  In reality, however, it is exactly the opposite.  The faster these things happen, the more quickly someone else can rise up to fill the gap.  That's better for taxpayers, consumers, and even the employees.  Moreover, it's the epitome of "fairness" (and isn't that what we're supposed to be for? "Fairness?").  It's not "fair" for any private entity to be given a competitive advantage by the Government.  It's not "fair" that consumers have to pay more for worse service because of the Government.  It's not "fair" that taxpayers are forced to pay for services they neither need nor want.  It's not "fair" for employees to be trapped in a job- afraid to leave because their employer, despite an "unfair" competitive advantage, is still hemorrhaging money.

So, this time, Congress, how about you do nothing.  How about you just let it fail, and see what the market comes up with?  How about that?

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