Partially Privatize USPS?

A recent article in Time brings up a unique argument about “saving” the US Postal Service. A non-partisan Washington think tank recommends a radical departure for USPS: a public-private partnership that would open up much of the service’s back-end logistics to outside competition.  In other words,allow USPS to take care of the “last mile,” but privatize the rest of the infrastructure.  Interesting argument.  What’s really interesting is to read the comments individuals have posted on the website.  It reinforces the concept that very few people understand the postal system and what it provides us.

First, let’s understand that much of the system is already privatized — just ask any printer/mailer.  Over the years, in order to get mail discounts, a massive private infrastructure has been created to handle part of the “back-end.”

Second, this author ignores the fact that postal workers have a “no-cut” contract. No way you’re going to get out of that one — Congress won’t let it happen, and that bring us to number three.

Third, Congress.  Although USPS is not really part of the government infrastructure (it supposed to pay its own way through revenue from postage), Congress still oversees it and has its say.

Fourth, and I may get my mouth washed out for saying this, but I believe that programs like the post office should not be privatized.  What becomes important for a for-profit entity (share price, shareholders, executives, Wall Street) WILL NOT be in the public’s best interest. And USPS is critical for all of us in this country.

Are there fixes?  Yes, there are many and they’ve been floated about for past several years, and as with anything dealing with our government, it’s not simple, and not everyone is going to be happy.  More about fixes in an upcoming blog.


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