I take no great joy in this but in my view the time has come to completely privatize the United States Postal Service. Despite numerous rate increases over the past several years the USPS continues to drown in a sea of red ink. In fact, the USPS projects a deficit of nearly $7 billion for the current fiscal year! It is a luxury that this country can no longer afford.
Despite improvements in productivity and some major reorganization the long range outlook for the United States Postal Service is dismal to say the least. It is a business model that in my view is simply no longer viable. Volume continues its downward slide as cost conscious individuals and businesses opt for far more efficient and less costly ways of communicating like e-mail and on-line bill payment. Furthermore, it can now be more expensive to mail a card or letter than to make a long distance phone call which is precisely the opposite of the situation that existed just 10 or 15 years ago. Times change and the USPS has been unable or unwilling to adjust to the new realities of their industry. At the same time the USPS has also been unable to cash-in on the numerous competitive advantages it has been granted by being an independent agency of the United States government. Most observers agree that at the very least the USPS needs to close hundreds of those tiny, inefficient post offices in small town America. You know what I am talking about. This would be a culture shock but is absolutely necessary if the USPS is ever going to turn a profit. Furthermore the USPS, would have to lay off tens of thousands of workers who sadly are simply no longer needed. Did you know that the USPS has never had layoffs?? Welcome to the real world folks.
Now there was a time in the not too distant past when the United States Postal Service had a virtual monopoly on the services it provided. This is simply no longer the case. The reality is that the Postal Service's chief competitors United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fedex) are both highly efficient and extremely profitable world-class organizations. They do much more with a whole lot less. The USPS is simply too far behind to ever catch up with them. And this is precisely why I believe the time has come to take the bull by the horns and privatize the USPS. Such a move would require a bold and courageous act of Congress but I believe that this is one solution to our budgetary woes that most Americans could agree on. Hopefully, a deal can be reached whereby most if not all of the current USPS workforce could be absorbed into the new private entity. And of course an agreement regarding pensions and other benefits will have to be struck as well. All sides will have to be willing to negotiate a viable and fair agreement. But the time has come and I hope our leaders in Washington can make it happen. This one move alone could save the federal government tens of billions of dollars in the coming decade. In the long run I believe it will be in the best interests of everyone involved. The United States Postal Service as currenlty constituted is simply not sustainable.
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