Robert Wolaver: We can’t let the U.S. Postal Service go bankrupt
We are truly living in difficult times. The coronavirus pandemic has us sheltered at home, has closed businesses and is generally wreaking havoc around the world with both our health and our economy.
One thing that hasn’t changed and can still be counted on is mail delivery by the United States Postal Service.
Yeah, I know, many like to complain about their mail service, but there is a bigger picture than issues revolving around a particular carrier’s being late or putting mail in the wrong box. The USPS is a constitutionally (Article I, Section 8, Clause 7) created agency of the U.S. government with Ben Franklin as the first Post Master General. It is not a taxpayer-funded government agency, rather an independent agency of the Executive Branch, mandated to deliver mail to all areas of all U.S. states down every country dirt road and all U.S. territories, which relies upon sales of stamps and other services to pay its bills like other companies.
The USPS delivers absentee voting ballets, Social Security checks, and prescription drugs to the elderly and rural America. They are one of the largest employers of veterans. If the USPS needs additional funds to operate, it has to borrow the funds like any other company. Having to deal with a reduction of business due to modern communication technology, litigated against by bulk mailers every time they try to raise the price of a stamp, a congressional mandate (PAEA 2006) to prefund 75 years of retirement health care benefits in 10 years and a Congress that refuses to allow the USPS to follow sound business practices has put a severe strain on the finances of the USPS, to say the least.
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Now add the additional loss of business due to the coronavirus to that and you have a situation which could lead to the USPS declaring bankruptcy in the next few months. Additionally, the Trump administration is refusing to provide the same financial bailout to the USPS that the airlines and other large corporations are receiving from the trillions of stimulus money.
Are you looking for something to do while sheltering in place? How about writing to your congressional senators and representatives in support of the USPS? They can decide whether to eliminate the burdensome prefunding requirement, provide stimulus money and allow the USPS to operate on the same sound principles as other businesses do in the U.S.
By the way, FedEx charges a low rate of $8.50 to deliver a letter within a 150-mile radius. UPS charges about the same. The USPS charges 55 cents to anywhere in the U.S.
Which would you prefer to pay?
Robert Wolaver lives in Grass Valley.
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