The U.S. Postal Service has been waiting for years for Congress to act on all sorts of recommendations to help with the problem of mounting losses. Even though the Postal Service is losing $25 million dollars a day Congress has refused to act in a meaningful way. In one of the strangest arrangements possible, the postal service does not receive taxpayer money for operations but it is subject to congressional control. Quite simply that means Congress can tell them what to do and how to run their business without giving them the means to do so.
Faced with this unworkable scenario the head of the U.S. Post Office finally took some action a few weeks ago and declared an end to Saturday home mail delivery starting August 5th. Legally, the Postmaster General can't do that. But, Congress left him no alternative but to act unilaterally and dare them to do something about it.
With reports that 80% of all post offices are operating in the red, a huge and accelerating decline in the use of first class mail, and the requirement to prefund pensions at a cost of billions of dollars, the postal service is a business run by a bureaucracy that has no personal stake in its success or failure.
If this were an ordinary business, it would have closed thousands of its under-utilized facilities, cut operational hours, and laid off even more employees. Or it would have filed for bankruptcy.
Instead we get the reliable delivery of millions of pieces of mail and packages every day from a "business" that is losing money hand over fist with no way to fix the problem except to ignore the law.
There is no grand message in this post, nor will I attempt to tie the Post Office mess to a satisfying retirement. The end of Saturday home mail delivery will only be a drop in the bucket in terms of saving money. But, guess what: enough drops will fill that bucket.
I am so tired of hearing that something will only make a small dent in the problem so it isn't worth doing. If one step doesn't immediately make everything better then why bother? The Post Office is losing $25 million dollars every … single … day. To a government that spends over 8 billion dollars a day that amount of money doesn't even register. Well, it does to me and probably every single person reading this blog right now.
Believe it or not, this is not really a post about our deficit and what it is doing to our future. No reasonable person will disagree that a $16 trillion debt spells big trouble. This is simply a personal rant at the stupidity of a system that requires the Postal Service to provide a certain level of service without the means to do so except to eventually shift the burden to the taxpayer.
Asking a business, a service, or a person to do something that can't be done and then refusing to adjust to reality is just so bloody irritating.
OK, I feel better now. Just don't send me any hate mail. Every letter loses more of our money.