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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What Can WE Do To Save the U.S. Postal Service?

I recently came across two sites, Delivering for America and Save the Post Office that opened my eyes to how critical the problem is with our U.S. Postal Service and how close it is to falling by the wayside.  I also read  a specific article on the latter's site called Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Campaign to Dismantle the Post Office.

I'm appalled to learn what is taking place behind the scenes to destroy a long-cherished organization that was designed to bring Americans together, offering them one of the best mail delivery services out there. As a result, I felt compelled to do my part by sharing some important information with my readers to educate them on the problem at hand and letting them know how they can take an integral part in helping to save a vital institution to the American people -- everyday citizens and businesses alike.

In addition to this blog post, I certainly intend to write a letter to my Congressmen -- Texas Senators and all of its Representatives (not just the one for my area). It is actually Congress that is to blame for the problem the USPS now faces due to the mandate they passed in 2006 which requires the Postal Service to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance and paid within a 10-year span.  No other agency or private company is required by law to pre-fund retiree health benefits.  While some do choose to pre-fund benefits, it is done so voluntarily and certainly not to the extent that they're running their business into the ground.

To make matters worse, the current Postmaster General, Patrick Donahoe, has pretty much "thrown in the towel" when it comes to dealing with the challenges the Postal Service faces.  Rather than look for long-term solutions, which includes lighting a fire under Congress to do away with or at least modify the mandate, Donahoe is merely suggesting short-sighted solutions that will only put the Postal Service in an even deeper hole than it is already in.  All while withholding certain facts from and making unproven assertions to the public as well as Congress in order to further his own agenda, which is merely a band aid that will only cover up the wound rather than heal it.

So, What Are the Facts?

You can find a plethora of factual information on the Delivering for America site, which is supported by the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC).  However, I will do my best to relate the most pertinent facts for you so you can see the big picture in a small one.  First and foremost, keep in mind that the Postal Service would be operating in the black if it weren't for the Congressional mandate to pre-fund retiree health benefits, which makes up for nearly 80% of the red ink it's currently operating under.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you cannot compare the likes of UPS and FedEx to the U.S. Postal Service as they only deliver a mere fraction of the daily deliveries that the Postal Service does.  The Postal Service currently delivers mail six days a week to 152 million households and businesses while UPS and Fedex only deliver packages five days a week to no more than 20 million customers each week.  As a result, you cannot compare the labor costs because no other agency or private company in the world serves every household and business in the country like the Postal Service does.

It is a common misconception that the Postal Service has been having problems for years when that is far from the truth.  As a matter of fact, the Postal Service was debt free in 2005 and continued to realize a profit through 2006, but now holds $15 billion in debt, which is entirely traceable to the pre-funding mandate.  Plus, despite the worst recession in 80 years, the Postal Service actually did very well operationally.

Yes, First Class revenue has fallen over the past decade due to more Americans communicating online with the advancement of technology.  However, with the notable increase in consumers shopping online due to that same advancement of technology, revenue from its package delivery service has greatly increased right along with that trend.  It wasn't until the Postal Service began making the mandatory payments to pre-fund retiree health benefits that their financial troubles started.

So, the bottom line is that rather than reducing or eliminating services, like doing away with Saturday delivery and their last-mile reach program (assisting carriers like UPS and FedEx to deliver packages), the Postal Service should be focusing its resources on revamping itself to adapt to the 21st century way of life.  Not only is it a proven fact, but also common sense that reducing the level and quality of service to customers will only hurt business rather than improve it.

Unfortunately, the postmaster general and many members of Congress are focusing on how to patch a problem so they can continue with the mandated pre-funding.  When that fund currently holds $45 billion, which will cover retiree health benefits well into the future, why is it necessary to continue with the pre-funding when they should be reverting that revenue towards the development of a new business model?

Be Well-Informed When Writing Your Congressmen

I strongly suggest that everyone write to their Congressmen requesting a strategic plan for postal reform; otherwise, we may lose a vital American institution that has been serving everyone in the country for nearly 250 years.  In addition to everything mentioned above, some other key points you could cover include:
  • The short-sighted Congressional mandate to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance over a 10-year period is responsible for nearly 80% of the Postal Service's debt.  It is unreasonable and unnecessary, not required by any other agency or private company, and needs to be done away with or modified to significantly reduce the annual payment so that it doesn't bankrupt the Postal Service.
  • Americans must have a strong Postal Services.  Households and businesses across the nation depend on our only universal communication network that delivers 160 billion pieces of mail each year to more than 152 million customers throughout the country.
  • It is entirely possible for the Postal Service to continue thriving in a digital age without a taxpayer bailout by innovating and adapting itself as it always has in its nearly 250-year history throughout many societal and economic changes.
  • Destroying the American institution that delivers our mail six days a week at affordable rates will only cost Americans a great deal in the long run when they're left to rely on privately-owned companies such as UPS and FedEx.
  • Without a strategic plan of reform, Congress will be alienating every household and business in this country, including our infirm, disabled, elderly, and missing children who also rely on the Postal Service for security due to the voluntary Carrier Alert program launched 30 years ago.
  • Without our Postal Service, we will no longer have the universal network chosen to play a valuable role in aiding the Department of Homeland Security by efficiently distributing medicine in the event of a biological attack.
For all of the different facts related to the problems the Postal Service is facing, the importance of the services it provides, and how a strategic plan of reform could still save it, I have a provided a list of links for your reference.  To find out exactly where to send your letters, click the Send A Letter To Congress button that follows:

It is vital that we take action to save our Postal Service from those who aren't doing enough to develop a long-term plan devised to bring it back to its former glory.  If we don't, can you imagine what life would be like without having our Postal Service to deliver our daily mail?  Not only would we be losing an American institution that has served us like no other for nearly 250 years, but the cost of sending mail would greatly increase since we'd be left merely with the likes of UPS and FedEx who will no longer have the Postal Service to compete with.  Let's not forget that they charge extra for Saturday delivery, either.

For more valuable information and the latest updates, please visit either of the following sites by clicking on their logo:

We must do whatever we can to
Save Our Postal Service!