USPS Budget Problems: Don't Blame the Postman
On Wednesday, the United States Postal Service announced it will be stopping Saturday mail delivery, a measure to battle their present financial setbacks and a new effort to gain the attention of Congress — which has repeatedly denied similar requests in the past.
Most of the public reaction to this announcement centered on the lack of service, and questions regarding the USPS status and capability as a public service. But what the public may not have understood thus far is the sobering back story of Postal funding, a silent victim of 'big government' at its worst. The recent revelations that the public has heard, the failure to make quarterly payments to the Treasury Department, and the supposed financial black hole are merely the tip of the growing iceberg Washington has hurdled in their way, all fitting a false, yet recurrent narrative of corporate insolvency.
In recent years, the truth behind the billions of dollars missing from Postal budgets have all pointed to the complications within the process of funding pensions, only discovered under layers of government bureaucracy. As a result of an extreme and unique congressional requirement to over fund military pensions, the government has projected the false idea that the Post Office is going broke. Why? It's simple and familiar to anyone skeptical of congressional over reaching: The over abundance of available funds in the hands of Washington D.C. has provided a piggy bank for additional government spending. In simpler terms, anytime the government needs cash to pay for outside programs and budgets, they can dip into these funds, knowing there will always be cash flowing in.
It's something no other company is asked to do. The most ironic fact, and may I add convenient fact, is that The United States Postal Service is actually completely solvent, and does not rely on taxpayer funding. As Ron Bloom put it, "the Postal Service's losses are largely the product of a congressional mandate imposed on no other public or private enterprise in America."
The Post Office not only provides jobs for millions of workers in America, and a steady income for their families, it is a living — although perhaps now on life support — symbol of what businesses should aspire to in this country. They've been self-solvent for decades, providing a vital service to accommodate the masses. And, most importantly, it is a founding institution, required by presidential predecessors, dating back to our dawning decades. The United States Postal Service has survived cuts in the past, along with the more recent desire, on the part of some, to privatize the company, and dismantle the idea of government run mail delivery (and it has survived!).
The current dilemma is not one created by the company, but by an illusion that Congress has passed on to the American public. The ideas most sacred to American entrepreneurs are at play in this struggle, a perfect litmus test on government fidelity to its institutions. If Congress allows the Post Office to fade away in response to a fiscal mess of its own creation, and allows a founding institution to expire, no American should feel confident in the promise that belongs to people, in the perfidious hands of our elected leaders.