Can $1 Stamp Rescue the US Postal Service?
By Rick Newman
The U.S. Postal Service wants to raise the price of a stamp by three cents, to $0.49. That’s not enough. We should hike the price of a stamp to $1, fix the U.S. Postal Service for good, and end the sorry spectacle of Congress forever toying with an institution it’s too inept to govern.
The Postal Service has become a poster child for incompetence thanks to an astonishing $41 billion in losses since 2006. Any normal company that lost that much money would either be bankrupt or thoroughly thrashed by irate shareholders. Yet the Postal Service bumbles on, with even bigger troubles on the way. It predicts annual losses could exceed $18 billion by 2015.
Don’t blame the Postal Service, however. Though it’s technically a “self-supporting government enterprise,” the USPS suffers from the worst problem any business could ever imagine: Congressional meddling. In essence, Congress must approve every big change to the USPS business model. As every American knows, Congress is about as productive as a teenager suffering from heat stroke. No matter how dire the agency’s financial situation becomes, Congress always seems too overwrought with other matters to do anything.
The Postal Service has a plan to save $20 billion per year, adapt to the digital age and fix its outdated business model. But it needs Congressional approval to pull that off. Changes would include the end of Saturday mail delivery, centralized mail boxes for more residential customers, reduced benefits for workers and other changes everybody would gripe about but get used to. Many companies have enacted more drastic reforms than those, and thrived. But aside from holding low-wattage hearings, Congress has mostly just yawned at the problem.
It’s amazing that Fedex & UPS are successful even in the age of the internet. Sadly, even after this, people will fail to see that government intervention is to blame whenever it props up any failing enterprise, distorting the free market system. – Mr Blacksheep