Reason Writers Around Town: Privatize the Postal Service

In the Washington Times today, Reason Foundation's Adam Summers writes: 

The average American home received a personal letter through the mail just once every seven weeks last year. With business dwindling, the U.S. Postal Service lost $8.5 billion in 2010, and losses for fiscal 2011 are expected to be about $9 billion. The USPS doesn't have the $5.5 billion needed for its retiree health care fund payment due this month and is so close to its debt limit that it won't be able to pay its bills later this fiscal year.

The response to this financial crisis: Raise the price of stamps by a penny next year.

In what has become a scene from “Groundhog Day,” politicians again are offering reform proposals that nibble at the edges. 

...Since the 1980s, countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark and Finland have opened their mail services to competition or partially divested government ownership, resulting in lower prices without sacrificing quality. By contrast, the Consumer Postal Council's Index of Postal Freedom ranks the United States among the most restrictive, noncompetitive mail systems, alongside China and Hungary.

Regardless of which of the postal reform plans passes, we'll be right back here next year talking about the USPS losing billions of dollars again. Emerging technologies will continue to make the USPS more archaic, worsening its debt and deficits. The Postal Service is handcuffed by Congress and unable to make the massive changes to its business model needed to turn things around. Privatization is not only the best way to stop the financial bleeding and better serve customers, it is also the Postal Service's best chance at survival.

Full column here.

Greg Beato on the "Post-Postal Society" and the struggle to close post offices.

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  • Elitist||

    Only idiots use the Post Office!

  • Constitution haters!||

  • Rothbard [fixed]||

    The great non sequitur committed by defenders of the State [city-State (Civilization)], is to leap from the necessity of society to the necessity of the State [city-State (Civilization.)]

    – Murray N. Rothbard [fixed]

  • ||

    But it's in the Constitution.

    We all know there was no communication whatsoever between citizens prior to the formation of the Post Office.

  • Are you against the progress||

    ...that our beloved city-State (civilization) bestows so benevolently upon mankind?

  • Lysander Spooner||

    Why didn't I think of that?

  • Adolescent Fan||

    Because you're a dead, obscure crackpot?

  • Apatheist||

    Zombie Spooner for president!

  • Chadwyck||

    I can get behind that ticket. A vote for Zombie Spooner is a vote for Braaaaiiinnsssss!

  • Adolescent Fan||

    Dead, obscure, crackpot brains!

  • ||

    At least end the first-class monopoly.

  • Gambol||

    At least end the Gambol Lockdown.

    Officer, am I free to gambol about plain and forest?

  • Adolescent Fan||

    I hope you keep using that, 'cause like Bob Hope movies, it just gets funnier and funnier with age.

  • Elitist||

    The Post Office is full of old, stinky people. Yuck!

  • RoboCain||

    Wasn't there some law passed back when they were running a surplus that the USPS has kick in a certain amount of money to the rest of the government? If that is what is being included in their supposed loses, then those figures are misleading.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The USPS can’t cut costs because members of Congress don’t want to close post offices in their districts. Also, union contracts prevent it from making the necessary workforce reductions. Political interference and gimmicks have long foiled the agency. It’s time to end the postal monopoly and privatize the USPS. The delivery of mail is not an inherently governmental activity, as evidenced by the success of FedEx, UPS and even bicycle messengers.

    No argument that Congress ruins any business it gets its dickskinners on, but those three examples suggest that there is no monopoly on mail delivery. What am I missing?

  • ||

    There is no monopoly on packages, overnight, and personal delivery.

    First Class (which I guess includes catalogs), yes, there is a monopoly.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I did not know that.

  • Chadwyck||

    This is refreshing to see in the comments. Thank-you!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You didn't let me finish. I didn't know that R C DEAN WAS A MORON. Boom.

  • robc||

    Even on packages, arent there rules about not underpricing the USPS for equivalent dilivery>

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    So there is actually a law that says no one can deliver a letter except the USPS? Jail can result in trying to deliver a letter for a fee?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Also, Hitler used the USPS to get his marching orders from Prescott Bush. LOOK IT UP.

  • Hitler Ate Sugar||

    Bob: I want to commit genocide.
    Alice: The Nazis committed genocide.
    Bob: Really? What was I thinking? I can't believe I was going to do something the Nazis did!

  • Dogs||

    We hate them too!

  • ||

    My prediction is that the eventual congressional response to an impending "crisis" will be to pass legislation funding increased enforcement of the first class monopoly (including more armed raids on businesses), combined with increased restrictions on what private carriers are allowed to handle. That, combined with new FCC control over the internet, should help FIST people right back into the good old post office. Problem solved!

  • Mainer||

    Anything that upsets the status quo will be resisted.

    Listening to the talk radio this morning the two hosts going back and forth on the deficit and where to cut. ANY cut suggested can't be made. It will hurt the troops, our position in the world, it will hurt education, or the environment, or the children. Round and round and round.
    The conservative co-host knew two things: nothing can be cut, and Ron Paul is crazy.

  • ||

    Political interference and gimmicks have long foiled the agency.

    It's like having your friendly neighborhood concerned soccer moms help you make operating decisions in your business.

  • Maxxx||

    Privatization isn't enough, although it is a necessary first step.

    The real change is eliminating the postal monopoly, mandates and subsidies.

    Let a ten thousand start ups compete for mail delivery in a free market.

  • robc||

    My favorite USPS ad was when they advertised how much cheaper their 2nd day package delivery was than UPS or FedEx overnight delivery.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    But who will deliver all my junk mail? And Netflix DVDs?

  • Elitist||

    Lysander Spooner!


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