Many seem to think that much of what takes place in Washington, D.C. has little to no impact on their daily lives, but this could not be more untrue. Whether paying bills or sending a birthday card or receiving a postcard from a loved one, the U.S. Postal Service has an impact on each of our daily lives in some way.
The U.S. Postal Service has been in existence since the colonial days. Over the years it has evolved, but the one thing that has remained the same is its core mission: to provide reliable, cost-effective, letter mail delivery to every address in the country.
In recent years, the U.S.P.S. has begun to shift their focus away from letter deliveries to a variety of package delivery services. They are still delivering the mail, but its taking longer and longer for the mail to reach its destination. In fact, according to the Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, late mail increased by nearly fifty percent last year.
You don’t have to search very far to hear someone’s personal story of wedding invitations not reaching their destination or a bill not getting paid because of mail delays. These are real problems for real people who depend on the U.S. Postal Service to provide a service that consumers are paying for.
Part of the reason the U.S.P.S. is struggling to maintain adequate service for mail customers is that their infrastructure is overly strained by other, less profitable and in some cases money-losing services. In recent years, they have been highly focused on specialty delivery services like chocolates, flowers and teddy bears, Amazon packages, and even fish deliveries in New York City.
The more they focus on shipping and package delivery, the more that mail service declines and the greater their problems become. Since 2007, the U.S. Postal Service has racked up $56.8 billion of debt and their unfunded liabilities and debt totals $125 billion. What makes matters worse is that there does not seem to be a plan to right the ship and get back on a path towards financial sustainability.
No matter who you talk to, nearly everyone says that some type of postal reform is necessary. Some point to privatization as a solution and the others have dug in their heels to advocate for no change at all.
Running $5 billion-plus deficits each year means that some change is necessary or there won’t be a Postal Service to work at, let alone money to pay for retiree benefits. On the flipside, privatization does not have to be the answer either.
The U.S. Postal Service needs to be better financially managed and get back to its core mission of delivering the mail in an affordable, efficient manner. First class mail is one of their most profitable services, covering costs by over 200%, while package deliveries add to their costs according to the government because they are much more “labor-intensive.”
Policymakers in Washington seem to be waking up to the growing problems; however they do not seem to be putting forth effective solutions. Instead of setting up structural reforms, the government is trying to tack on fees to products that already earn profits. These ideas are nothing more than an attempt to gouge consumers while refusing to fix the problems that drive their debt.
With $125 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities and billions more being added each year, better financial management and regaining a focus on mail delivery are needed at the U.S. Postal Service.