A solution to all the Postal Service problems

By John Peters

July 25, 2013

The beleaguered Postal System has come up with a new idea to save money — it wants to stop offering home delivery.

Actually, officials say they want to end curbside delivery, which means no more delivery to individual mail boxes at the end of driveways, on porches, or to businesses. Instead, postal officials have put forth an idea for what it calls “cluster” boxes, meaning it would group dozens of mail boxes, maybe even whole streets or neighborhoods, all together at one location.

The idea is this would cut delivery time and cost, and leave it up to individuals to pick up that extra time and cost by having to drive down to the nearest box cluster to pick up their mail.

Not all that long ago the Postal System suggested it might end Saturday delivery in a cost-saving measure, but backed down when Congress howled in protest.

The Postal System has lost billions of dollars in recent years — just last year, it recorded losses of $16 billion. Agency officials like to point the finger at a federal requirement that it set aside enough money to cover future retirement and health benefits, often saying if they didn’t have to do that all would be well.

The truth is that requirement resulted in about $11 billion of the $16 billion loss, meaning the system would still have been looking at $5 billion in losses had Congress removed this requirement. Still, that doesn’t stop postal officials from crying foul, and stating they are being treated unfairly by Congress, with restrictions on their operations that make it impossible to operate at a break-even mark.

We have a simple solution. Allow the Postal System to stop fully funding those future retirement benefits. Allow the service to stop Saturday delivery, or cease home and curbside delivery. Remove all extra government controls on the agency that normal businesses would not have to face.

At the same time, remove all special government protections the Postal System enjoys. Drop this ridiculous government-sponsored monopoly and let folks send not only packages, but their first-class mail, through whatever service they choose. Postal System, Fed Ex, UPS, or some other company — let the consumer decide, and let the marketplace determine who survives and who doesn’t, based on how well these entities manage themselves.