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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The Postal System's monopoly loosens

So, for the first time in 62 years, Americans are spending less on postage. Not because the rates have dropped, of course--but because they've risen. The Postal Service has continued to pay more and more each year for the privilege of hiring workers who are less and less willing to endure cold, sleet, and the dark of night to get the mail through. The law of economics has kicked in: prices up, demand down.

Naturally, people like me, who have the option of using the Internet to communicate, have pretty much quit using the mails. Postal volume has gone down 5% since last year. But since the USPS is locked into the spiraling costs guaranteed in a collective bargaining agreement with the Postal Workers Union, it has to charge more and more to deliver fewer and fewer letters.

So, what's the solution, to keep the monopoly going? Postmaster General Potter says that mail delivery should be cut from six days a week to five. Great, I say. They want to work less, let them work less. There's less mail to carry, so--?

Once mail carriers are getting paid full time to work two or three days a week, hopefully Congress will realize the futility of it all and end the monopoly the USPS has on the delivery of mail.


Update March 21, 2009--AP
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Postal Service has already suggested dropping a day of mail delivery to save money. Now, with economic gloom everywhere, it's turning to early retirements, management cutbacks and office closings.

Not so long ago, the picture was far different. The USPS finished fiscal 2005 with a $1.4 billion surplus.

Postal officials were already struggling with a sharp decline in first-class mail as letters and many bills moved to the Internet. Then the flagging economy devastated advertising mail, which had become the agency's largest volume. At the same time, the number of delivery points - homes and offices where it must bring mail, was continuing to increase.

The Postal Service lost $2.8 billion last year and is facing even larger losses this year, despite a rate increase - to 44 cents for first-class mail - scheduled to take effect May 11. Update September, 2011: Two more years of heavy losses later, the USPS and Congress are still talking about the problem and not doing anything about it. All the more reason to cancel this loser's iron grip on the mail system.

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