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Monday, August 31, 2009

United States Postal Service -- Not Bad!

The United States Postal Service has been ridiculed by various conservative commenters as a poster child for ineffective government programs. Losing money, can't compete against Fed Ex and UPS,—proof positive the feds can't manage anything right, let alone compete with private health insurance, right?

But why exactly is USPS $7 billion in the hole? Is it inherent government waste and inefficiency? No: it seems the postal service is just subject to economic factors, like everyone else:
  • 70% of households with computers are paying bills online, up from 64% last year.
  • Increased use of e-filing for tax returns takes two bites out of postal paper volume: fewer papers sent to IRS, fewer refund checks sent to all corners of the map.
  • The recession means less junk mail. USPS estimates its total volume will drop 13% this year, from 202B to 175B pieces [see Andrea Fuller, "As Internet Booms, the Postal Service Fights Back," New York Times, 2009.08.]
And they still deliver and pick up my mail five miles out of town, reliably, six days a week. Not bad.

The fact that USPS is losing money says nothing some inherent flaw in government services. The real reasons for the USPS's deficit—less paper waste, easier tax filing, fewer credit card offers and ads cluttering up the mailbox—are all reasons to cheer.

1 comment:

  1. USPS has discussed eliminating postmasters at locations of less than 1000 residents which may affect our area communities. A rural delivery person would simply put your mail in the unattended boxes each day and perhaps stamps would be sold at the local convenience or grocery store or residents would have to drive to a larger town like Madison to mail packages.


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