Saturday, April 20, 2013

A $58 Billion "Free" Mail Delivery System, Including SATURDAYS ... Why POLITICS SUCKS

Today is Saturday and the post office is open for business. That means the mail will be delivered to our homes for "free" as usual.

But it's only "free" in the same way as is our system of government run K-12 public education, college Pell grants and such. And it's strikingly similar to our government provided and "affordably earned" entitlements of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid based nursing home subsidies and now Obamacare.

So let's look at 'free' mail delivery and what it really costs us.

Courtesy of the U.S. taxpayers, aka We the People, the U.S. Postal Service incurred losses, aka "free" deliveries, "worth" $15 billion last year.

The Postmaster General wants to reduce stop Saturday deliveries and reduce those losses by $2 billion annually, but the government knows best Congress won't let him do it.

Of course, $2 billion out of $15 billion wouldn't come close to fixing the problem either.

But the outlook is even more dire than that. How's $58 billion or so sound after a few more short years of government knows best oversight?

Postal Service Chief Cites Fiscal Quandary has the update on this sickening but all too typical story of our failure at self governance:

"The U.S. Postal Service will need a large infusion of taxpayer dollars if Congress doesn't move to fix the money-hemorrhaging agency's financial problems, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said Friday.

The Postal Service, which hasn't been profitable since 2006, will owe the federal government $58 billion by 2017, according to the latest estimate of the agency's fiscal situation. Congress hasn't approved legislation that could reverse those losses and last month blocked the end of Saturday mail, which would have saved about $2 billion annually.

Congress "can decide to start appropriating a lot of money to prop up a broken Postal Service, or it can give the organization the flexibility to operate more effectively," Mr. Donahoe said in a speech (that) conveyed a sense of growing urgency.

The Postal Service pays for the bulk of its operations with revenue from stamps and other mail services but is still subject to congressional control.

Mr. Donahoe laid out the agency's latest five-year business plan, which would close a $20 billion budget hole. However, most of those cost-savings initiatives require congressional action.

Many lawmakers have been reluctant to act because the changes would result in less frequent letter delivery, significant adjustments to retiree programs and the loss of jobs.

Last year, the agency came within four days of exhausting its cash reserves—a scenario that would put many private companies on the brink of bankruptcy. . . .

The cornerstone of his business plan is an overhaul of retiree health programs. Currently the agency provides full benefits to its former employees and doesn't require them to enroll in Medicare.

The Postal Service wants to break away from the health insurance provided to all federal employees and shop for its own plan. That program would provide eligible retirees supplemental coverage to Medicare, an option that would save the agency as much as $8 billion a year.

In the absence of new legislation, the Postal Service is speeding up other cost-saving efforts, including the consolidation of hundreds of mail-processing plants. Plant closures and the scaling back of post-office hours to as few as two a day in some areas are part of plans that will eventually save about $5 billion a year.

The accelerated savings should allow the agency to make it through 2013 without running out of cash."

Summing Up

What a great example, albeit a sickening one, of why our nation's fiscal affairs are in such a terrible state. Our government knows best gang is doing what's the easiest and popular thing to to do at the moment, even though it's absolutely unaffordable. Can kicking 101.

And We the People don't tell the government knows best gang to STOP. We still act as if we believe that things like the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and free lunches really do exist. Problem avoidance 101.

Sadly, the apparent answer is that we like the local mail delivery enough to keep getting it for 'free" but we don't value it highly enough to pay for it.

That "like-it-but-not-pay-for-it-in-full-entitlement" model of government service has put us behind the proverbial 8-ball, and we'll be there until we put up the money to pay in full or have enough guts to stop the "benefits" provided by our "public servants."

So when going to the mail box today, let's think about whether the $58 billion bill is really worth it and how much all these entitlements are really costing our great country, both financially and otherwise.

Isn't e-mail great? And isn't the government run post office an idea whose time has come and gone?

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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