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  • Morning Bell: Is the Postal Service Doomed?

    If you ran a business with $25 billion in losses over the last five years, $20 billion in annual losses projected in the coming years, and 80 percent of its locations losing money, do you think that your company would stay afloat? Should it be rescued with a bailout from its customers? Or should it change its business model, eliminate expenses, and innovate to be competitive in the marketplace? These are the questions facing Congress as it considers what to do about the ever-struggling United States Postal Service (USPS).

    The USPS is indeed at a crisis point. Barring an intervention from Congress by May 15, USPS plans to  start closing as many as 3,700 post offices. Those numbers might sound jarring, but in reality the post office closures (not including the processing centers) only save $200 million under USPS’s estimates, and only 4,500 employees would be “affected” — though many of them would be reassigned rather than let go. It’s only a small part of what’s needed to save the USPS.

    But even the small changes being proposed are kicking up a firestorm of opposition. Consider the post office in Hope, Minnesota. It sees about eight customers a day, requiring some seven minutes of service. The USPS wanted to close the facility and offer service to the 90 residents of Hope at the Ellendale post office, just 10 minutes away. Still, the closure was actively opposed, ending with an appeal to the Postal Regulatory Commission before the move was recently cleared.

    Some politicians in Washington, of course, are trying to swoop in to the rescue in defense of this inefficient American institution. The Senate last week approved a measure (S. 1789) to prevent these changes until the USPS establishes new service standards for mail, effectively delaying action for six months.

    Now it’s up to the House to take action, and the Senate’s plan faces fierce opposition. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says the measure is nothing more than politicians trying to save post offices in their back yards. “Rather than letting an objective and independent process continue on, senators would inject parochial politics into the postmaster general’s decision making,” Issa said.

    Heritage’s James Gattuso explains that there are three possible roads ahead for the Postal Service:

    It could continue as an obsolete, politicized institution doomed to extinction. Alternatively, it could become a taxpayer-supported dinosaur existing on billions in taxpayer funding each year. Or will it be allowed to restructure and innovate, giving it a chance to find a place in today’s economy? Congress should support the third of these and give the Postal Service a chance to save itself–and taxpayers–from disaster. That means allowing the Postal Service to adopt reforms, not stopping it.

    Gattuso recommends that in order to truly pull itself out of the red, the USPS needs to make substantial cuts and closings that are much more significant than those on the table today. That means shuttering larger and busier facilities. But unfortunately, the USPS cannot quickly and effectively enact changes and reforms. Even under current law, Gattuso writes, the Postal Service is barred from closing any small office simply because it is losing money. The decision is run through a review process that can take upwards of 180 days. Is it any wonder that the USPS is flailing?

    Instead of throwing up barriers to reform as the Senate is doing, Gattuso says Congress should give the Postal Service more flexibility to reform itself with necessary cost-cutting measures and innovations like automated postal “kiosks” or “approved shippers” for packages to stamp sales at supermarkets and other stores.

    The Postal Service does not have to be a joke of inefficiency, and it can continue its mission of serving the American people if Congress allows for necessary reforms.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    95 Responses to Morning Bell: Is the Postal Service Doomed?

    1. jer says:

      Hope Minnesota? I don't think so. Maybe Hope No Dak, which is probably 10 min away from
      Fargo, and certainly not Ellendale. Check a map!!!

      • Larry says:

        jer is right about distances. I live in Montana were when asked -"How far is ____", we answer hours not miles. Rural areas are a thorn in the side of government as we are protected by cooperatives – Power, phone, and postal service. Yes we can have rural delivery mail boxs and that takes fuel, electrical power trucks would never make it. Maybe it would be better to look at citys over (say) 100,00o pop. and close offices there. They have a bus – metro system not the highways and backroads we are forced to use.

    2. Beverly says:

      how is this different from locations of schools and the expenses associated with schools? It's the government, they have deep pockets.

      • Dave B says:

        Sorry, Beverly. The gummint only has taxpayer money to spend… no deep pockets! They are spending YOUR money!

    3. larry says:

      Why not sell the postal service?

      • ernaldo says:

        Yes, or just turn it over to its workers with no more assistance from the taxpayer. Let them crunch the numbers, work the long hours, save for their own retirement, and compete. Fly or fall like the rest of us. I think it would be fall……

    4. karl willis says:

      When the "pain" of remaining the same out weighs the pain of change, you will change! This is long over due, and while short term pain may be felt, the postal service and its customers will be better served!

    5. MarineCorpsVet says:

      "if Congress allows for necessary reforms."
      You should more correctly say, "if the unions allow for necessary reforms."

      • Pragmatic says:

        They're both have their role in this problem. Congress is actually preventing the USPS from closing posts. This would save a lot of money but it isn't politically convenient to let the USPS close down branches in your jurisdiction.

    6. ruth says:

      we live on an island about 5 months of the year where they stopped delivery years ago–we get or mail when we go to town once a week or so, and it works just fine!

      • Joseph McKennan says:

        I think that is a very good idea. I personally would not mind picking up my mail if it would help. Years ago I rode a horse after the mail in the winter.

    7. ThomNJ says:

      Somewhat off-topic: That entire first paragraph could be re-written with just substituting USA for post office and the appropriate numbers. Pretty darn scary.

    8. Eric Miller says:

      Mike as a small business and someone who deals with the post office daily – I would be glad to tell you our experience.

    9. DRD says:

      Several sources have determined that the USPS' financial problems stem from excessive benefits and employment protections. As a business on a cost vs income basis, it actually has a positive cash flow. It's the pension benefit payments due that destroy it's ability to function.

      • Walter says:

        Congress spent the retirement funds so there is a deficit now.

        • DRD says:

          Agreed, but the crux of the matter aren't the direct operating costs…..it's all the padded, lifetime benefits!

    10. Craig White says:

      Maybe the PRC members that receive political donations from UPS and Fed EX should not be allowed to make sit or chair committees that make rate changes or policies for the USPS. The USPS is the nations largest non-profit organization.that can not raise it's rates, because only the PRC can do it. The USPS hands are tied by the very people trying to make it disappear so they can expand the markets for the "other guys". If the USPS becomes profitable the congress takes the profit away. The USPS biggest problem is the Congress. USPS is the cheapest postal system in the world and should be allowed to raise it's rate to stay in the black with out the PRC's say so.

    11. toledofan says:

      The smatest thing for the Congress to do is to get out of the way. Available technology already makes the post office obsolete and it would make sense to modernize the entire process, I'm just not sure the folks running the post office today are capable of actually fixing the problem? It may be time to privatize the entire process.

    12. jim c says:

      RE; Postal service doomed??? Really. Not showing a Profit ,-really.
      Well how much profit did the FBI, Secret Service, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, EPA , ect, show over the past 100 years????? None!
      At least the USPS provdes a valuable service. Also I heard the Post office is mandated somewhere in the constitution.
      I think we had better get rid of those agencys doing harm (EPA__DEPT OF EDUCATION) before cutting back on the Post Office and the US military.

    13. Paul Johnson says:

      The Post Office does little more than deliver junk mail. Mine goes directly to the land fill. Odd that while one agency, the EPA, is hell bent on reducing "greenhouse" gases, the other is doing all it can to add to them. A bit like the Sorcerer's Apprentice. What's needed is a constitutional amendment to end the PO. It's once needed role is gone. As are candles and whale oil.

      • Sanddog says:

        It delivers payments to small businesses across the country 6 days a week, saving those businesses from charges levied by credit card merchant services.

      • Joseph McKennan says:

        Constitutional amendment? Why not smarter people in congress who have more on their minds than adding to their bank accounts.

    14. Dennis G says:

      Has anybody ever heard of the Postal accountability act of 2006, congress mandate the Postal Service to pre-fund future retirees benefits 75 years in advance and pay this pre funding in a 10 year period ( $5.5 billion a year.), this is when the Postal Service started to loose money. There is no other company federal, state or private that has to do this, how many companies can do this and NOT loose money. After paying $5.5 billion a year for 3 or four years the USPS was over funded $55 billion to $75 billion dollars CSRS and $6.9 billion dollars FERS yet congress has not removed this prefunding requirement. Congress wants to use this over funding to shore up the rest of the federal government retirees funds,by the way the USPS is not on the federal budget and has not been for over 30 years. The USPS does not receive any federal monies.Congress can't come up with their on budget maybe they ought to stay out of everybody else business. How many trillions of dollars deficit is the federal government?

      • Harry Jismsm says:

        So, how long have you worked for the postal service and been a shill for them. I SAY: out law the postal union, make them take the pay cut they deserve, and fund the majority of their own retirement, health benefits. That will make it solvent again!

    15. John Frykman says:

      I'm afraid the elephant in the room here is the postal workers' union and the bloated 100% taxpayer paid retirement fund. Without addressing this huge issue, any "solution" is doomed.

      The post office needn't restructure, as it no longer serves any vital function. FedEx, UPS, and the Internet can easily handle the increased volume…perhaps by buying a fraction of the post office's real estate, infrastructure and vehicles. Six day a week delivery to residential addresses is unnecessary and ridiculous. I have successfully kept my visits to a post office to around 3 times a year or so, and every time I have to go there, I grit my teeth to endure it. This is no way to run a business. The post office served a vital function at one time. It no longer does, and keeping it open only kicks the can down the road. Of course, Congress historically has been very good at that.

      • Dennis G says:

        Postal Service does not receive any taxpayer money the USPS is funded and operated by stamp revenue from letters and postage from parcels business, the USPS is not om the federal budget meaning that they do not get any taxpayer money.If Fedex and Ups were required to pay $5.5 billion dollars a year to pre fund future retirees benefits 75 years in advance and pay it in a 10 year period like the USPS they too would be loosing money. The federal Government it self is less than 50 percent prefunded yet they put this burdend on the Postal Service.The USPS has payed the $5.5 billion for 3 or four years the USPS was over funded $55 billion to $75 billion dollars CSRS and $6.9 billion dollars FERS yet congress has not removed this prefunding requirement. Congress wants to use this over funding to shore up the rest of the federal government retirees funds instead of returning to the USPS.

      • If you only go to the Post Office 3 times a year, you obviously have home delivery of the mail. Lets be clear here: your home mail service is an outdated expense. Instead of closing these small-town Post Offices where they do NOT have home delivery, why not cut your home delivery off, too. Better yet, lets just cut it ALL out . .and you can plan on $7+ being added to the cost of every piece of government or municipality or court paperwork being delivered to you via FedEx . . .unless you live in a rural area: then it'll be $14! The additional cost to the taxpayers, their cities, etc is not being considered here.

    16. Michael says:

      As long as the policies and procedures are dictated by the government and as long as there are strong labor unions in the Postal Service, nothing will change. Too many citizens, other than the business world, depend on the Post Office to deliver the mail. The Postal Service has to reinvent itself within the confines of its culture in order to survive. Without change, it will just wither away or be a tax supported dinosaur.

    17. KC-NM says:

      It is too bad that the USPS was not run as a "for profit" business that focused on customer satisfaction and customer value. Compare USPS with Fed-X and UPS. The differences in scope, management, and overall leadership vision is incredible.

    18. Gordon Schwarzer says:

      As a 79 year old on fixed income. I find the USPS increases in postage not inline with the service
      provided. I now pay all my bills via internet banking. I'm saving 60 cents each time (45 cents postage
      15 cents printed check). It might only amount to $200 per year but helps. UPS has independent stores
      and they work very well. Maybe sell it to a private enterprise. Any way what what we have now sucks.

    19. W Hartmann says:

      I find it very interesting that elimination of the post office is being talked about. It is one of the only agencies mandated in the US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8. There are plenty of other departments and agencies that are unconstitutional that could be gotten rid of before the Post Office.

    20. RogCol says:

      $200M? Like peeing ona forest fire. At least the peer, would get some satisfaction.

    21. Panicazi says:

      Postal service and maintenance of roads to facilitate postal service is one of the limited powers of our Federal Government. The Federal Government is NOT a business. It's responsibility is NOT to shareholders and to show a profit. Likewise, the Postal Service being Constitutionally part of the Federal Governement, cannot continue as a semi-private operation if it is to follow the US Constitution. The Postal Workers Union must be banned as is unionization of our military not allowed. Postal service is one of the very few responsibilities of our Federal Government and it should never have been privatized "to compete" in the first place. It should be regulating all of the other private actors like UPS and FEDEX, AND ensuring that our methods of sending post (to include the Internet) are open to all Americans, just as was intended when postal service was first considered and added as a Federal power. Now, my opinions on how USPS should be handled are not my central point. I assert primarily that the duly elected representatives of the American People have their route to fixing the USPS laid before them if they would but READ THE CONSTITUTION and then formulate a solution in line with what the Founders intended. Instead, I am sure we will continue to get a politically expedient and properly pandering solution to the USPS. And it;s going to cost a lot of money.

    22. Tom says:

      The problem is not so much the management of the USPS…Again, it's Congress…They don't want to allow the USPS to make the hard decisions that it needs to make because it will effect voters who will hold their Congressman responsible if they don't have a local P.O. in their little town….Now, when the USPS would like to consolidate plants to make the operation more efficient, the unions respond to their members that don't want to go across town or to the next town to work. They complain to their union bosses who respond with threats to their Congressman or run advertisements using local union run shops to complain that they might have to close their doors if the plants consolidate. It is a pity because the USPS does a pretty amazing job moving mail across the country and around the world efficiently and a reasonable cost (just check the cost of mailing in other industrialized nations.) In the interest of honesty, I was one of over 700,000 postal employees during most of my career. I had a (former) Congressman tell me that I was the reason that he lost his re-election bid because I didn't locate the new postal facility in his town in the location that he had suggested. He said the residents said that if he couldn't control the USPS in his own hometown, how could they expect him to be successful when they needed him to do something "really important" for the community! What I had to point out was that the site he had recommended had under ground gasoline tanks that had damaged the site, the "vacant" housing project on part of the site were actually partially occupied by squatters which, as a federal agency, would require us to relocate those individuals at a substantial increase in our project cost. In addition, the buildings, once vacated, would still require asbestos abatement before we could tear them down (additional project cost)… But all of that didn't matter to the Congressman at the time because he felt it would be good for the community if the USPS would pay to clean up the site. So, once again, the USPS was to help the Community and the US Gov't resolve their problems despite the fact that the cost would do nothing to further the USPS job description.

      • Joseph McKennan says:

        In an overhaul of the postal service I am convinced that the first step should be to non-unionize it. I think the taxpayers should have a say in this as much as congress because they are the ones paying for it. When I need work done on my car I can pay $75 an hour or $27 an hour… . which do you think I choose?

    23. Jeanne Stotler says:

      There is A LOT OF WASTE in Goverment, a well known fact is that if a bureau has NOT spent all thir alloted funds before end of fiscal year it must be returnd to the Treasury, Has this ever happened?? NO, because they go on spending sprees as that they don't have any money and therefore qualify for a increase the next year. This is WASTE, we have many offices doing the same job, again WASTE, For a long time audits have been needed, Not just cursorary ones BUT FULL AUDITS, shrinking ALL Depts. and Bureaus to manageable sizes. The PO was effecient, we had 2 deliveries a day and multible ones during the Christms season (starting wih Thanksgiving). Mail took a little longer because they relied mainly on trucks, but we got all our mail and it wasn't torn or late. We paid extra for Air Mail, which now, all long distance mail goes by air. The Big Goverment along wit postal unions, has ruined this bureau, time to look hard and deep and leave deliveries alone, just make sure they do their jobs.

    24. John says:

      Let the post office be like TVA. Some regulations, but hands off by Congress. What ever happened to government for the people, and by the people? I agree, private enterprise would probably be the best way.

    25. Mike says:

      Wow! The Heritage Foundation of all organizations, clearly missed the most obvious, and likely best solution for the USPS in this writeup…..Turn off the lights, and get government out of the mail delivery business all together. Once government gets out of the way (including removing regulatory impediments), the private sector will come in and solve this mail delivery issue once and for all. Government does absolutely nothing well, and its high time we recognize that dynamic. Fed Ex and UPS make money each year delivering packages, and either they, or some new company, or a combination of both, will solve this problem, and they'll do it with private capital. Dr. Friedman and Dr. Sowell have shown us the way to a better and brighter future, if we're only willing to listen.

    26. glynnda says:

      Ahhhh…….once again government bureacracy stands in the way of common sense, financial responsibility and progress…… Is the Postal Service Doomed? We can only hope and pray that the answer is yes and that the entire institution will be privatized. Hopefully when that happens the union will be chucked and the postal service can run like the well-oiled machine it has the potential to be.

    27. Lydell says:

      I worked at the Post Office for many years . Originally established as a service to the American People , the USPS has become just another profit making, or losing, government company. The all mighty dollar has triumphed again and greed has set in with huge bonuses paid to the management. So much for service !!

    28. h.crosby says:

      The postal service is the best and most secure way to have private communications.

      The internet and the phone service are subject to tracking and prying eyes.

      We must keep the US Mail service.

    29. okiejim says:

      Doing the same thing over and over hopng for a different outcome is the definition of insanity. USPS has displayed this insanity and the reason lays at the feet of the union. I'm for letting them go out of business if they can't stand up tp the unions and do what needs to be done to save the service.
      Incidentally, one of the stupidest actions taken by USPS happened in a small town in OKlahoma. The town has a post office and rents boxes to the residents. Some of the newcomers to the town discovered that USPS is required to deliver to mail boxes for free if someone requests that service. The result is that a rural mail carrier must come from a town seven miles away to make deliveries to mail boxes within this town. Insanity!

    30. David says:

      It is time for government to discontinue all pensions of all employees with ten years or less of service and convert to 401k style retirement plans…it is what the private sector has been doing the last few years to save their businesses…government should be expected to do the same…the corruption in pension payouts is what is causing these outrageous deficits from these agencies and being thrown back on the tax payer. It is time our government is run like a private sector industry.

    31. Edward says:

      Congress cannot balance a budget, so how can they run the USPS? Why not hire new management to run the Post Office and produce a profit so it will help reduce our debt. The government would still own the service. That will not happen because new management will lay off those workers, that sit around and let the other hard workers do all the work. I have witnessed this with over employment in some post offices and heard from long time employees saying why do we have so many upper management people that sit around doing nothing to get a bigger paycheck than me when I do all the work.

    32. ash says:

      Eliminate manager's bonuses at the end of the year. It would save millions.

    33. JunkYard Dog says:

      First Let the Postal Service file Bankruptcy and then sell it to Private Enterprises with rental puchase of all the facilities currently owned. Included all employees and retirement within 5 years to stay, but with a larger increased in the Retirement System- Then Private Enterprise will install what penison plan makes sense.

      .No free meals and if not in session —-NO PAY! TERM LIMITS SET AT 2 TERMS IN EITHER HOUSES WITH NO PENISON PERIOD AND THOSE ON PENISONS NOW – WILL FACE 50% REDUCTIONS IMMEDIATELY; IN THREE YEARS 25% & FINALLY 10% PENSIONS ONLY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY RETIRED WITH A MIMIUM OF 12 YRS IN OFFICE –ANY LESS THEN 12YRS PENISON WILL STOP WITHIN 3 YRS ALL FREEBIES IMMEDIATELY.

      Consider, moving the National Captiol & Penagon to the Mid-West within 10 years, for SECURITY and updated efficient construction. HUD Built Complexes for all Congress members to live in while serving.

      LETS GIVE GOVERMENT BACK TO THE PEOPLE & ALL THE PEOPLE IN CONTROL OF THEIR LIVES AND KEEP GOVERNMENT OUT OF OUR LIVES—THEY ARE TO HANDLED CERTIAN AREA AS OUTLINED IN OUR CONSTITUTION AND THAT IS THE ONLY PART THEY CAN PLAY IN. STATES WILL HANDLED THEIR OWN RULES & REGS, ALSO WITH NO CAREER MEMBERS.

    34. Mailman says:

      The Post office was never in the business to make money, it is a service!

    35. Nancy says:

      We were recently in Australia where the "Postie" is run like a business – they thrive and even contract their services out to other countries like South Africa. Maybe we should contract them to take care of our crippled postal service.

    36. O2BMe says:

      I don't see how anything can survive as part independent and part controlled by government. What head of a company would stay on the job when he makes a decision and then is blocked by government. Even if his decision is approved he must wait months or years to implement it. Either it should be government-run as is the military (as in the Constitution instructions) or it is cut loose to be run as a private company to compete with FedEx or UPS.

    37. Mike Manglitz says:

      Recently in Portland, OR there was a news report of a postman who defecated in the front yard of one of his customers on his route (there had been problems between him and the citizens in that neighborhood). A formal complaint was naturally filed with the Postal Service who held a disciplinary hearing on the matter. The results of the hearing will not be released and the postman is back on the SAME ROUTE. Speaking to a postal official about the matter I was informed that the union runs the postal service and there is little to nothing the postal service can do. This is a much more serious problem for the Postal Service than deficits. If this sort of problem can't be corrected then there is NO future for the Postal Service, profitable or not.

      • Babs says:

        my mail was always wet when it rained so I posted a note on my mailbox for the mailman to PLEASE close the lid when he put the mail in so it would not rain. The mail continued to get wet. I emailed the USPS lodged a complaint. They in turn contacted my local post office. Still to no avail. Mail continued to get wet. I finally took the mail box down and attached it to my front door where there is an overhang so the mail would not get wet. NOW the mailman ALWAYS closes the flap when he delivers mail. Is that some passive agressiveness going on?

    38. Sarah says:

      Time to privatize the postal service. I've watched supervisors following mail carriers so many times it has made me wonder why the supervisors don't just deliver the mail if they don't think they can trust the carriers. What a screwed up system. Only could government continue to pour money into an inefficient business to the extent ours has. Time for a reality check folks!!!!

    39. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      I hope not. Let's reform the Postal Service.

    40. TEA9876 says:

      We can't continue to throw good money after bad. Just because you work for the government should not guarantee a lifetime of employment. I used to work for the largest communication corp in the world. When they were forced to downsize I had to leave. That was many years ago and we manage to survive.

    41. JohnEJurkoff says:

      Several ways the USPS can start saving money:
      1) Remember when your mail-carrier walked the route?
      Mine drives 100 feet from house to house to house.
      2) Do we really need so many different stamp designs?
      3) The cost to send junk mail needs to go way way up!!
      4) The rate for media mail needs to be corrected to reflect our modern society: commerical DVDs and CDs qualify for MEDIA MAIL rates.
      5) Mail boxes on the corner. If you get mail delivered to your home you don't need to have a mail box in your neighborhood. Just leave it in your own mail box and your letter carrier will get it into the system.
      6) All those FLAT RATE boxes and mailing supplies are just given away. I've been in store rooms that use FLAT RATE boxes to store inventory.
      I just thought of these right now…..I'm sure there are many more places to save.

    42. GRACE E. PRATTI says:

      SEVERAL YEARS AGO TWO COMPANIES WERE GOING TO TAKE OVER THE POSTAL SERVICE BECAUSE THEY HAD FINANCIAL SITUATION AND IT DID NOT WORK, FOR THE SIMPLE REASON ITS TO BIG FOR ANY PRIVATE COMPANY TO TAKE OVER, SO CONGRESS HAD TO TAKE IT BACK, THAT IS WHY THE POSTAL SERVICE CANNOT FALL AND CONGRESS HAS TO BAIL IT OUT, NO EXCUSES OF INTERNETS, THAT IS A PROBLEM AS THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF RUNNING THE POSTAL LIKE POSTMASTER, MANAGERS, SUPERVIORS AND SO ON DON'T KNOW HOW TO MANAGE THE FUNDS
      AND THEN THEY CRY THE BLUES. LIKE BEFORE AND LIKE NOW THE POSTAL HAS TO STAY WITHIN CONGRESS.

    43. Art Narro says:

      Unquestionably the Post Office must be more efficient and free from Congressional meddling. While Mr. Gattuso’s article was replete with references there was no discussion of any work rules in place that inhibit drastic changes that could be a meaningful way to reduce cost. Are there any? There was also no discussion regarding the effect of the explosion in junk mail (i.e., does the cost of handling/delivery match the cost to the sender? If not, why not?).
      By the way Stamps are already being sold at Supermarkets, Costco etc.
      Art

    44. I love the automated kiosk at our post office…it's available 24/7, I can use it to buy stamps or mail packages and even to send certified mail. We ABSOLUTELY should have more of these. Think of how ATM's revolutionized the availability of banking services and you get the idea.

      Additionally, the unions are a huge part of the problem and they need to be reined in at the USPS as well as at all government levels. And I say that even though my dad worked for the postal system for 30 years…but he's passed on now so he can't get mad at me for saying it.

      As another comment noted, the USPS actually performs a valuable service and we should be looking to eliminate the EPA, Dept. of Ed, and other departments that serve NO vital interest (or at least no vital interest that can't be handled at the state and local level). But there is no question that the USPS can and should be revamped, revolutionized, and required to join the 21st century in regard to how it's run.

    45. JustDamnMad says:

      I live in a community of less than 250 people which is at LEAST 70 miles from a city of any size (4,000 or more). There has been limited conversation about closing the Post Office in my town, but the one west of me (17 miles) and the one east of me (17 miles) are supposed to be closed this month. It is my understanding that when these rural offices are closed they will receive their mail by a rural carrier. That rural carrier will deliver as pick up mail with postage that weighs LESS than 11 ounces if postage is affixed. If the letter/package weighs MORE than 11 ounces, then that customer must physically drive a distance of 34 miles round trip (if my PO stays open) to have it weighed and put in the mail.

      It is very easy for those of you who live in more populated areas to say . . . "just get rid of it" . . . because ultimately it does not effect YOU. However, from the comments from above apparently you don't have a problem with telling US what we should be willing to do without!!! But Dennis G states the truth. The problems with the post office were exacerbated when the Congress passed laws make onerous demands on the Postal Service to fund retirement programs in a way that absolutely NO OTHER FEDERAL AGENCY is required to do! Why would the Congress do this? Are they working behind the scenes to push Fed Ex and UPS because they had an opportunity to line their own pockets? Also, ask yourself where all that additional investment made by the Post Office and deposited with our trusted Federal Government is today? Is it locked away safely for the Postal Workers retirement OR has the government spent it . . . just like Social Security? Want to make a bet on the answer to that question?

      The government is already impacting the cost of our utility bills exponentially. Is our telephone service next? How many services will they deem "too antiquated" to keep whether it is a MAJOR inconvenience to citizens across the rural part of this country or not? The government has given free cell phones to every welfare recipient on the books for the sake of communication, at OUR expense, and yet they are arbitrarily removing services from those of us who pay the bills! WHY????

      You may think that this is just a small thing, a small convenience to those of us who still need and use it, something we will just have to accept, but let me warn you: this is NOT the end of government over-reach! It won't be long before they are going to be confiscating all the 401-K plans and other retirement programs because, after all, that money is just sitting there! They will eventually take it, pay what THEY determine to be an adequate rate of return on your money, spend it to fund the government – all as a benefit to YOU, and then when YOU retire, they will send you what THEY determine that you need . . . if they have it!!!

      And if you think I am blowing smoke, just remember the warning because they are building a massive one million sq ft facility in Bluffdale, UT to store massive amounts of information about you, me and every other person in this country, legal or not!!! They will collect everything related to you, even those things that seem meaningless. They will know what the property you own, your actual physical address so they can pinpoint EXACTLY where you live, where you go to church, who you visit, what kinds of vehicles you have, how many miles you drive, what bank accounts you have, what kinds of investments you make, what emails you send, record phone calls you make . . . the possibilities are endless. So don't be surprised when you are notified by YOUR investment company that the Feds have "appropriated" what you have and they will no longer be in charge of YOUR money!!! And why would they do this? Well, it is "for the good of all" because in order to be fair they need spread the wealth around!!!!

      The Postal Service will die a quick death because no one will fight to keep it. The progress of this country that allowed us to be prosperous and enter the 21st century as a beacon of hope to people around the world will be set back over 100 years. And when the damage is done, and the country is destroyed, WHO will say, "What have we done? How could we have been so wrong?"

      We have NO ONE who has the appendages necessary to stand up and say NO MORE. We are sliding right into being the second Soviet Union . . . . how nice for those who want to live under communist rule!

      • Joanne says:

        You are exactly right about the government overreach. I'm a Tea Party conservative and my husband works for the Post Office. Congress wants the Post Office to be profitable, but yet the Post Office is a fundamental function of the federal government. It's established in Article 1 Section 8, Clause 7 of the Constitution. How can the Post Office break even with the mandate that it fund 75 years of retirement health benefits in 10 years. That's like paying a 30 year mortgage in 5 years. Without that mandate, teh Post Office would be in the black. Congress wants it to be profitable and yet it requires the Post Office to mail all those political candidate mailings for free. And by the way when some people talk about bailouts, remember the Post Office is a fundamental function of the federal government. Bailout have a bad connotation because private companies were bailed out, which is government overreaching in the private sector. The Post Office has overpaid billions into the penion system. Paying that back is a refund of their overpayment of revenues from postage, not a bailout with taxpayer's funds. By the way, postage is the revenue for the Post Office, not taxpayers funds.

    46. Patricia Dailey says:

      Many people, believe it or not, don't use or don't even own a computer. I had a bookstore for over 20 years,
      including online bookstore. Many of our customers would not buy anything on line (young and old). I send
      out Christmas cards, birthday cards, condolence cards etc. I also enjoy writing letters to family and friends.
      How about wedding invitations….should all of these be sent by email,twitter (whatever that is) ?. All of this talk
      about eliminating the USPC is causing me great anxiety and I'm sure dear Ben Franklin wouldn't like it either.
      Even though it has taken valuable time, thank you for giving me this opportunity to respond patricia Dailey

    47. Why not move to every other day delivery – simplistically at least a third of the personnel costs would go away. And have they done the pension reform, fewer holidays, no overtime cuts?

    48. billstanley1 says:

      Since USPS cannot lay off union employees, the bill in Congress would have USPS bribe employees to quit … no savings in the near term. http://www.newsandopinions.net

    49. Rick says:

      Interesting nobody from the HF remarked on the up front funding of benefits required by Congress, as asked the gentleman above. Typical.

    50. Randy says:

      Your not writing about the real reasons behind the shortage of or loss of revenue. Congress is allowing money to be pumped from the postal service in a manner not practiced or required be ANY OTHER SOUND BUSINESS MODEL. What other business is required to pre fund medical AND retirement benefits for employees not yet born. See the APWU Postal Workers website for more information. And send a message to Congress to stop raiding the postal piggy bank to supplement big business with discount postal rates so low they are supplemented by the public's postal rates.

    51. Bobbie says:

      Why does any government entity profit? Why again, should ignorance be bailed out? It's not like change wasn't needed along the way! If the postal service wants to regain it's health, they'll take the ideas of practical solutions as many are given to help them out and take on the big steps of responsibility and accountability.
      As much as we love the postal service, we can't control what's within theirs.
      Congress should not consider rescuing ignorance, making it a norm… or a Cliff? get it, Clavin?

    52. Randy Sunderland says:

      As a community newspaper owner, the U.S. Postal Service is an indispensable delivery tool. However, its financial problems are a complex quagmire of unsustainable benefits, mismanagement, Congressional intervention and perceived lack of need at the consumer level. No business could survive this model — the USPS continues to insist it is an independent business and not a government agency, but the reality is that at every turn Congress steps in to impose its will.

      It now is facing the challenge of a changing customer base. First class mail is in decline because of cheaper and faster alternatives online, while the volume of discounted mail products (mostly marketing materials) is up. Customers don't like all the junk mail and bills, and are starting to say postal service not essential. Efforts at automation have not delivered promised cost savings and delivery reliability is not good. This is a management issue, and not likely to improve without major shifts in the upper levels and cuts in employee benefits . . . both very painful!

      I worry about the long-term viability of the Postal Service, and I don't see USPS management nor Congress coming up with a workable solution. Perhaps the best solution would be to let it fail, and see what emerges from the ashes.

    53. Lee says:

      The USPS will face continuing declines in revenues as more and more people pay their bills over the internet. The Service must continue to raise their postage rates until they make a profit, or at least break even. Revenues will continue to decline as long as there are competitive ways of of communicating and bill paying. Of course, the government is trying to find ways to increase taxes and they will go after the internet for one of these sources. When is the question? Can you imagine the cost to the tax payer in paying all the USPS unfunded pension costs, if the department was shut down and all the employees forced to retire?

    54. THE SOOTHSAYER says:

      After the closings of inefficient post offices the First Step would be to privatize the collection and delivery process. There are courier companies now that collect, collate and sort corporate mail deliveries for large companies. Such bulk services can be brought to the localized market. With such mass un-employment and wide under-employment such a base service operation opportunity has means to flourish given the right amount of spunk.

    55. Rick_in_VA says:

      This is the same story I was told when I started as a USPS employee in early 1988.
      Congress continuously hamstrings any attempt by postal officials to change anything.
      Nothing changes, especially politicians.
      The only way to help is for politicians to get out of the way.
      Of course, this also applies to the economy in general.

    56. Rich says:

      I live in Southeastern Ohio. Most people in the country rely on the post office to have their newspaper delivered. Most have no high speed internet. Other alternatives are OK in the city, but what about us country folks? There is no cell phone service at my house, no city water available, no cable TV available, no mass transit. Also very little crime.

    57. Don Gronewold says:

      The 3rd Class and "Junk Mail' is not paying its own way . Some letters go thru for less than 15 cents. They should go up. Bulk mail is also too low as in pre sorted and non profit organizations. Saturday delivery should be stoped. Very few eople or businesses read their mail on Saturday. I use the post office almost every day to pay ills, family correspondence etc.. E-Mail is difficult for us who do not have a computer and many viruses are intercepting our messages.

    58. Jim Stolfi says:

      As a 25 year Postal retiree I can tell you the problem always was, and always will be Congress and the Postal Board of Governors. When computers started becoming popular and the internet started to grow, USPS management begged the PBG and Congress to let it be more competitve. They were denied, over and over again, we all see the result. Having the Service pay for VA benefits and Service benefits ahead of time also killed the fiscal budgets.Congress has run the Postal Service just like they ran their dining facilities, RIGHT INTO THE GROUND!! Big time lobbying by UPS and FEDEX didn't help, either.

      It will now take a MAJOR overhaul by both the PBG, Congress and the unions, to save the Postal Service, that may be like asking for Iran to stop building nukes!!

    59. earl jaite says:

      postal (gov0wages tooooohigh,and benifits out of line with american civil wages, DAH

    60. Gilbert Doan says:

      Your opening paragraph raises exactly the right question.

      Unfortunately, nobody knows how to offer the right answer – efffectively.

      And we know who that is, do we not?

    61. Anne Barrett says:

      We obviously need to make some hard decisions on ALL budget items for our U.S. Government and that includes every organization, not just the Post Office. There are many changes that could be made to the USPS that would make it profitable but everyone has ox to be gored in the process and no one wants HIS/HER ox to be the one. A President and a Congress that is willing to take the heat and make the necessary decisions would certainly be assets in the hard road that lies ahead.

    62. Pam S says:

      Please! U think for a moment that this administration of thieves and so knee deep and in bed with the union si about to cave in and unload the postal services ??? hahahahahahaha. Yeah, they'll think about a bail out. don't you know that's all mr. o knows how to do along with the other crooks………..yeah, let's make (once again) everyone pay for the post offices to stay a float by those that actually work!!. Postal people DO work. but this is the administration in office right now that we are talking about. Bail out Bail outs and then hire the crooks that got bumped from all the bail outs and the fannie mae and freddie mac things to keep making people pay out of our pockets. Oh yeah, that's called government take over of the USA.

    63. Ken Marx says:

      Most people won't make it down to this post, but I hope some people in responsible positions will. Has anybody considered franchising out the smaller post offices to local mom and pop stores on a revenue sharing basis where the mom and pop provides space in their business and runs the franchise without paid postal employees? The postal service would still have to deliver to and pick up from the local business, but it would have minimal expense in serving those six or so daily customers and it would keep some of the income generated at that location. Maybe this isn't the whole solution, but it seems as if it would be a positive step.

    64. Mark says:

      I know this is just dreaming but wouldn't it be nice if the USPS were privatized. Here is an idea get Fed EX and UPS to purchase it from US government for a dollar each and then they split the baby and integrated it to their operations and then compete in a free market, you know best practices, competition, listen to the voice of the customer, free market pricing and wages, close money losing operations/locations… I know I know just dreaming.

    65. John says:

      For a number of years the Government (house, senate, and president), have set up new rules for the postal service that has put them in this situation. I do no for a moment think this is anything but intentional. For example they made the postal service put 5 Billion up front in to pensions which was not necessary and put them in a hole, which the government would not provide any funds for. They only really neeed to put 1.7 billion or so into the fund not 5 billion. Its my belief based on what has been done by both democratic and repubilican controlled bodies in washington, that the government wants the post office to fail and go away. They know it wont be picked up by a third party as they have put rules to how it would be done that no third party in their right mind would touch with a 10 foot pole, and they believe that means that most if not all magazines and mail will then be put to an email or interenet delivery. They can't possibly monitor all mail and magazines folks order, so its better they force it to the internet and email so they can monitor what folks read and get via the mail. Another part of Big Brother being implemented in our life time.

    66. dodger says:

      This is simply more proof of the fact that government is incapable of running ANYTHING efficiently. And they want to run our healthcare under Odumbocare????? I don't think so!!!!!!

    67. Are,nt the post offices and buildings rented or leased and owned by those who are politicly connected?
      this could hamper the closing of locations for someone not wanting to loose a gift horse.
      Would it be more cost effective for them to own their own buildings

    68. zaphnathpaenea says:

      There is nothing wrong with the efficiency of the Post Office. These people should be given credit for the valuable work they perform. However; like most government agencies, Local, State and Federal, the benefit packages they dish out to the employees, such as extravagant pensions and early retirements etc are not sustainable. Look at Greece right now and you will see what is coming here.

      Harold

    69. Carl Hulsewede says:

      The crisis in the Post Office was manufactured by a Republinac Congress in 2006. The Democrats went along for the ride in an effert to skim $5.5 Billion from the Post Office for 10 years. I guess Congress used this money to pay for earmarks and pay off their political allies. The $25 Billion loses reproted in the story are almost the same amount forced payments to the Federal Government. The Post Office would have made money if it were not for these forced payments.

    70. George White says:

      The Postal Service needs to close thousands of post offices where consumers have a nearby option (that means closing more urban/suburban than rural ones) and half of its processing facilities, and renegotiate its labor contracts, reducing labor and infrastructure to match current and anticipated mail volume, and making benefits more consistent with the private sector. It should NOT increase prices nor cut the quality of service (i.e., eliminating Saturday service); that is the opposite approach that any business should take. When times are tough, you do more with less, not increase prices and cut services. The US Postal service is the only Federal agency called for in the US Constitution; more than a quarter of US households still count on it for basic communications. It cannot be privatized without terminating service to rural communities; UPS and Fed Ex already use US Mail trucks to deliver the "last mile" in such areas. We need to keep the Postal Service as a Federal entity, but reformed to be able to continue to operate on a break-even basis.

    71. The delivery, safety and privacy protection of the mail is actually one of the services that our Constitution assigned our government to provide. Because of the heavy costs of providing thousands of post offices and all the people and transportation necessary to deliver all the mail and packages the system had to start charging the people to offset its high operating costs. This changed it from a government service to a business operation. The government provides services supported by tax revenues not supported by income from products and services to make it financially feasible. To mix the two together is a formula for failure. We either need to put it all on the taxpayer to support or set it up as a private business shared by many companies that would compete for the mail service business. Sense the taxpayers can't afford to support it then there is really only one choice.

    72. MikeHebert says:

      Government and big business? They have a way of ripping each other off; and sometimes without the other even knowing it. So, I ask, can an indebted department (gov./private) indefinitely continue without some course of reform, debt solvency? The average American family has tried/failed and had to ‘start from scratch’ multifold. Is the ‘average government office/department’ any different? I still see a serious management problem here on more than one level. And someone is not willing to admit to the exact, specific details and solutions thereto because it might just mean their income. Isn’t that PART of the prolem?

    73. MikeHebert says:

      From what I'm gathering, everybody is telling 'UncleSam and Aunt Jane' to declare bankruptcy and let those who know what they are doing DO IT! Come on Corporate America, you manage bussinesses all over this globe. You can't deliver a letter / package? I'm seeing a more than serious management problem here. Leadership that admits multi-billion dollar deficit IS UNACCEPTABLE. National or private! Receiving mail is great – somebody loves you – but knowing that delivery is indebting someone is crazy. And as for the union factor? Don't get me started.

    74. Austin says:

      USPS is a repository for every social misfit with a relative or fellow cretin working there that gets them in the system…Nearly every time I use them the package is damaged…Their display cases are full of crap that no one wants to buy…Their direct employees couldn't care less about efficiency; however, the contract post offices I have dealt with are true entrepreneurs – demonstrating how it should be done…time to privatize folks.

    75. burnsie says:

      You should all scan down and read Dennis G's comment.
      He's spot on. This profit center was created by Congress and the mess the USPS is in now is the product of bad decisions by the Congress during Postal reorganization. If we calculate the retiree health plan overpayment into the profitability equation the USPS is nearly even.
      Let's allow this organization to compete equally in the marketplace and aggressively go after UPS and FedEx with a competetive strategy. As it stands currently, the USPS provides a reliable delivery product for a better price than their competitors and should not be reviled…indeed…they should get the accolades they deserve publicly.
      Let's get Congress out of the way and allow the postal service to be just what it was constituted to be…a service!!!

    76. Great points altogether, you simply received a new reader. What could you suggest in regards to your post that you made a few days ago? Any positive?

    77. domki Letniskowe Bory tucholskie says:

      I tend not to write many remarks, however i did some searching and wound up here Congress Considers Whether to Rescue Postal Service.

      And I do have a couple of questions for you if it’s allright. Is it only me or does it look as if like a few of these responses come across like they are coming from brain dead people? :-P And, if you are writing on additional online sites, I would like to keep up with anything new you have to post. Could you make a list of every one of all your public sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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