The United States Postal Service (USPS) lost nearly $16 billion last year, and attempts at reform have proved futile. USPS bosses, who continued to get raises during the recession, want to end Saturday delivery. Trouble is, Congress won’t let them do it, prohibiting a return to a five-day delivery schedule. The USPS expects to lose $6 billion in the current fiscal year, and seeks to alleviate the losses by hiking the rate of a first-class stamp to 49 cents.
As Jay Leno quipped, that will surely help vanquish the competition. The knowledge that the government is reading our emails has not stopped Americans from using electronic communications, and more will surely do so now. That holds even though, as Mr. Leno also observed, the price of a stamp works out to just pennies a day as the USPS carries your letter around the country for weeks. That’s why it’s called “snail mail.”
Postal bosses claim the “service” cut back 22,000 delivery routes, laid off 203,000 workers, and trimmed its annual operating costs by $16 billion since 2006. Yet the USPS remains a big-time loser. Raising the price of a stamp and even ending Saturday delivery are unlikely to change that reality.
If legislators ever want to seek true reform, they should lift the USPS monopoly on first-class mail. That simple and long overdue move would be real change everybody could believe in, but it remains an unlikely move from a Congress that prefers to keep losers afloat.
Contrast that irresponsible behavior with Britain, where the Royal Mail has posted losses in five of the past 12 years and cut more than 50,000 jobs. The government is selling off state assets to help cut the country’s budget deficit. The privatization plan includes an initial public offering of 52 percent in the nation’s postal-services group.