This week's candid conservative editorial on the U.S. Postal Service (4-21-12)
No One Can Deliver Something for Nothing
By objective international measurements, we have the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable mail service in the world. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. Four apocalyptic horseman hiding behind red, white, and blue camouflage might.
USPS hurdles track to shrinking utilization, volume and revenue blended with swelling costs. This agency knows how to fix itself. Those four horseman won’t let it happen.
The first, Uncle Sam, makes it his business to control everyone else’s business. Rather than follow the Constitution and do a few things well, this dark rider prefers to do a lot of things poorly. Political meddling convolutes the USPS just like it does healthcare, education, energy, food, drugs, and the environment through unfunded mandates, micromanagement, and assumed authority without accountability for outcome. Disaster awaits anytime power is separated from responsibility.
Speaking of labor, the second horseman wears a union suit. The USPS operates under the watch of four of them. Though their public persona speaks to the pursuit of fairness, these unions do much better than that. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the average postal employee makes eighty-thousand a year in wages and benefits. That’s twenty-thousand a year more than private workers. Unfortunately, their extra-nice healthcare and retirement plans have not been properly funded. Generous and sustainable are rarely compatible.
Those first two horseman require a third to carry their load. The postal service must maintain a complex bureaucracy to juggle a parade of regulations, constraints, demands, and special interests. The more top heavy the ship, the more energy goes to carrying itself versus cargo.
The last horseman is an entitled American public demanding maximum services at minimal costs. When it comes to cheap, fast, and good, reality rarely supports more than two at a time. We can’t decrease our utilization of postal services, refuse to subsidize those services with taxes, and then demand fast six-day-a-week delivery and easy access to a neighborhood post office.
Preventing our postal service from running off a cliff requires we rein in those horseman. Revenue must be realistically matched to services, costs, benefits, and salaries. Closing marginally utilized post offices and going to five-day-a-week delivery schedule is realistic, prudent and necessary.
The USPS, like most politicians and all left-handed thinkers, is incapable of delivering on their promise, persuasion, and pretense of something for nothing.
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