The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been a topic of debate for decades. As you may know, the USPS is an independent federal agency that was created by Congress in 1971 to provide postal services to all Americans at affordable rates. The problem is that it's not profitable enough, and as a result it hasn't been able to adapt as quickly as its competitors have.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Republican fundraiser who took over the mail service this summer, has come under fire for his role in recent mail slowdowns.
The postmaster general is the highest official at the United States Postal Service (USPS) and responsible for day-to-day operations of the mail system. The postmaster general also oversees budgets, workforce management and network infrastructure; he or she may also serve as a liaison between USPS and Congress on policy matters.
Since taking office in May 2019, DeJoy has been accused of making decisions that have led to slower delivery times nationwide—even though he denies responsibility and says it's not his job to rehabilitate America's postal service.
Critics of the Postal Service say that the agency is structurally flawed—that it cannot continue this way for much longer.
The Postal Service needs to be privatized, restructured, reformed and fixed. Some people suggest that we just close off our borders and keep this thing going with tax money alone. But most people agree that it’s time for change now.
Yet the Postal Service has managed not just to survive but to thrive—delivering impressive cost reductions and service improvements with little in the way of dedicated resources from Congress. That’s because it has embraced a basic principle that all businesses should follow: customers come first.
The Postal Service never forgot that its success depended on keeping pace with rapidly changing consumer preferences, and it was willing to try new ideas as well as old ones like letter delivery. The result? New products such as stamped greeting cards, mass-market advertising mail and even a Netflix-like video streaming service called “Informed Delivery.”
As we've seen from President Trump's attacks on the Postal Service, there is a growing movement afoot to make sending paper letters more expensive and more inconvenient than it needs to be.
President Trump has repeatedly attacked the Postal Service for being "too expensive," and he wants to privatize it so that big corporations can take over our mail system. In fact, President Trump has stated that his goal is to "close down the Post Office" because "it's not fair" for Americans to pay for something like this when they could just use FedEx or UPS instead — which raises an important question: Why should anyone care about what happens with our nation's postal service?
In short: We all should care because of its significance in our daily lives (and because it won't cost us anything).
The postal service is not going to reduce its obligations to its workers and retirees. That's a myth.
First, the postal service was never going to be able to reduce its obligations to its workers and retirees. Second, my colleagues here at Cato are wrong about what this means for the USPS's financial position going forward, as well as how Congress should respond.
Third—and most importantly—the idea that we need drastic changes today because a zombie future is coming tomorrow is just not true: the Postal Service will remain solvent for many more years with no major changes now. So why do so many in Washington keep insisting on radical restructuring?
The impetus for this legislation was a 2006 federal law (the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act) that required the USPS to pre-fund its health benefits for future retirees for 75 years into the future—a requirement no other agency or private business faces.
When you take a look at the history of how our postal system came to be, it becomes clear why this is such a tall order. The USPS was created in 1775 when Benjamin Franklin first made an official request to King George III in England on behalf of American colonists who wanted access to affordable mail service. Since then, its scope has changed dramatically: after being reorganized as a government agency under President Nixon in 1970s and 1980s —with an eye towards privatization—it was again restructured by Congress in 1970s and 1980s—only this time with an eye toward reinvigorating local post offices throughout rural communities across America.
Critics of the USPS focus on the fact that it is a government-run operation and thus, they argue, should be more efficient than private companies. They ignore the fact that the USPS has reduced its workforce by over 200,000 employees since 1970 while increasing its productivity by over 300%.
The USPS is a monopoly, and monopolies are always more profitable when they don't pay their fair share for using the USPS network. The only reason these products are profitable is that they don't pay their fair share for using the USPS network.
Critics of the USPS focus on a number of issues that do not represent the full picture. They are correct in pointing out that the USPS is not in a financial crisis, but rather a structural one. In other words, it does not have enough revenue to cover its costs. It is also true that the USPS has been an enormous burden on taxpayers since 2006 when it was required by law to pre-fund future retiree health benefits for 75 years into the future (a requirement no other government agency has). However, these facts alone do not tell us why we should consider discontinuing Saturday mail delivery or closing thousands of post offices across America.
The Postal Service is in a tough spot, but its problems have little to do with the fact that it delivers mail six days a week.