Saturday, February 11, 2012

Government {In}Action ... The U.S. Postal Service's Future

What will we do about the billions of dollars in ongoing annual losses by the U.S. postal service?

Well, the Obama administration's answer about government's responsibility to deliver efficient and effective mail delivery service, as evidenced by Senate Democrats, seems to be one of the following:

(1) "Why do today that which so far we've been able to put off?"

(2) Or, put another way, "Who cares what the taxpayers think about paying for all this unnecessary government sponsored waste and inefficiency?"

The bottom line? Allowing creative destruction to find its way into services performed by the public sector has once again been postponed by our fearless pols. Can kicking in Washington is alive and well. So is continuing taxpayer subsidizing of wasteful and unneeded government programs and services.

Although the U.S. postal service has been around for a couple of hundred years now, we presumably need more time to determine its financial viability or appropriate structure for effectively and efficiently delivering the mail. At least that's what the actions of the Senate Democrats clearly indicate as taxpayers continue to experience billions of dollars in losses each year that the postal service continues to operate as is.

Post Office, Senators Reach Deal summarizes the current status of the political postal service football nicely:

"The U.S. Postal Service and 15 U.S. senators struck a deal Tuesday (Dec. 13) to delay any post-office closures until May 15, 2012, halting for now the possible shutting of thousands of locations.

The Postal Service is considering mass closures in an effort to cut costs. The agency lost more than $5 billion in the most recent fiscal year and is projecting more losses as mail volumes decline.

The senators said the agreement gives them time to pass comprehensive changes to the service. Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), the number-two Democrat in the Senate, said postal legislation will be a top priority of Congress early next year.

The Postal Service said in September it was reviewing 252 mail-processing facilities for possible closure. In addition, the Postal Service plans to eliminate overnight delivery of first-class mail and is studying post-office consolidation in rural areas. Other possible changes include consolidation of 3,700 post offices and ending Saturday service.

The Postal Service, in a statement Tuesday, said it would continue to study closures and seek community input during the moratorium, which is a verbal agreement between postal leadership and the senators.

Of senators announcing the moratorium, 14 are Democrats. The one independent, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, said the Postal Service's changes would result in a "death spiral" for the mail by encouraging businesses to turn to the Internet and other delivery services even quicker.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), who has proposed postal legislation in the House, said the agreement with the senators shows that the postmaster "caved to political pressure."

"This delay hastens the crisis that is bringing USPS to the brink of collapse," Mr. Issa said in statement."

To believe that objective steps will be taken in 2012, an election year, is to believe in the tooth fairy. In addition, to believe that politicians will enact legislation that will result in a viable and competitive mail delivery service is to believe in several or more tooth fairies.

The smart money wager is that taxpayers will continue to "enjoy" billions of dollars in losses each year until the government can't borrow the money for our taxpayer enjoyment any longer. Only then will the unpleasant facts be faced squarely.

My question on behalf of all taxpayers is why wait. The obvious political answer is that's the American political way.

In other words, politicians are never inclined to do unpleasant things today that can be postponed until tomorrow. They'd prefer to let the taxpayer pay what doesn't need to be paid, but for the politicians' misfeasance, and cling to the hope that tomorrow won't come until after they've left elected office.

Politics sucks.

Thanks. Bob.

No comments:

Post a Comment