25 October 2009
The Magnificently Efficient U.S. Postal Service
One of the relatively few things the federal government does that is actually constitutional, is the operation of the U.S. Postal Service. One can question whether this function ever should have been a government function, but it was made so by our Constitution. Now one would think that the government would take its actual constitutional duties more seriously than its unconstitutional actions. The reverse often seems to be true, though there is also a problem in that Congress' taking something seriously only means that the politics involved is taken seriously, not the actual delivery of any real service. The Postal Service has come under renewed evaluation as an indicator of how a government-run health care system will evolve, not that we do not have many more direct indicators of that!
John Potter, the Postmaster General, says the U.S. Postal Service is in acute financial crisis. He has been the Postmaster General for the last 8 years. In FY 2009, the Postal Service lost $7 billion. Its mail volume decreased by 28 billion pieces compared to the year before. The recession economy has reduced its business, as well as the Internet and e-mail. Its Christmas mail has been way down. In response, Potter cut $6 billion of expenses and 40,000 employees. Despite this, Potter expects the Postal Service to lose $5 billion every year for many years.
Potter bragged that the fleet of 219,000 vehicles included 44,000 alternative-fuel-capable vehicles. I'll bet they cost a pretty penny to buy. Most people do not buy these vehicles because it is difficult to rationalize on an economic basis. But if you are a government-run business, where politics is everything, you have to back the government story, however fictional, that man-made CO2 emissions are a catastrophic threat to the planet.
This U.S. Postal Service always had plenty of positions considered to be ripe political plums. Local postmasters were often chosen by politicians. Nowadays, that still happens, but also political correctness, rather than on-the-job skills, dictates who gets many of these positions. White males need not apply in many cases. Having a relative in the Postal Service, I have heard many a story that would make any real businessman's blood boil.
U.S. Postal Service facilities were also long considered great pork. No doubt, many a facility is badly located and sized as a result. Politics still limits the closing of many of these facilities.
It is interesting to observe that the U.S. Postal Service tried competing with Federal Express and UPS on next-day deliveries and found that it could not. It contracted its next-day service to Fed Ex in the end. Of course, it charges more than Fed Ex does.
Shades of government rationing of health care services, the U.S. Postal Service is now thinking it will have to cut services. It wants to cut Saturday deliveries, which it says will save it $3 billion a year. It also wants to offer new products, as the postal services of Japan and France do. In other words, it wants to compete more with the private sector, which should be considered unconstitutional. Evidence would suggest it cannot compete successfully. But, those long lines waiting for counter service are a tempting market. They could offer them sodas, coffee, candy and other survival goods to enable their captive customers a chance to survive the long waits.
Will our government-run health service do the same? Imagine severely ill old folks lined up around the block waiting to see the few tired and bored doctors taking a break for sanity from their mountains of paperwork. Think of all the unskilled new jobs for union members peddling water, sodas, hot dogs, aspirin, renting wheelchairs, and stealing their money! Think of all the additional money their SEIU union will be able to give the Democrats to further transform America into a socialist peoples state, which is a misnomer for a socialist leaders state.