The business model for the United States Postal Service has changed just as it has for newspapers, and radio/television stations. Those original models all have been permanently impacted by numerous inventions, but most significantly by the rapid expansion of internet business transactions.
If you’re interested in learning an in-depth understanding of the Postal Service, I suggest that you take a look at the interesting details covered in a Wikipedia report.
I could go into all kinds of details such as reporting that our first postal service dates back to February 1692 when King William and Queen Mary empowered Thomas Neale to settle parts of his majesties’ colonies in America, and creating a postal service was part of those instructions. Actually it was our old friend Benjamin Franklin who created our current Postal Service in Philadelphia on July 26, 1775.
Today the Postal Service has bloated to over 760,000 employees with 32,741 offices along with the largest civilian fleet of vehicles totally 260,000 units. With a projected operating loss of $7 billion for fiscal year 2009, suggestions have been made to seek approval to reduce the number of days mail is delivered and to close 300 postal offices. Shockingly, nothing was indicated about reducing the size of the staff. The USPS has been losing money for years, and the future looks bleak without continuing support from taxpayer funding.
Frankly, the proposed action is really a band aid, because it does not address the true problems. There is a union mandated contract requiring a $7 billion obligation to fund current and future retiree health benefits. The planned cutback in delivery days and the closing of offices ignores the fact that the volume of mail has now dramatically dropped, because of competition from FedEx and UPS. Additionally, the dramatic increase in receiving and paying bills, receipt of company annual reports, and internet e-mails and greeting cards via the internet means that the Postal Service has far less work and too many employees and outlets. If there is less work to be performed why would they not reduce the employee count?
The truth of the matter is that our political leadership will not take the appropriate action to reduce the size of the union employees. With over 760,000 potentially obligated voters, don’t expect the current Congress to take the appropriate action.
Our Postal Service should immediately be seeking competitive bids that will lead to being privatized ASAP. But, don’t hold your breath, because what is $7 billion to Congress when they are throwing Trillions of dollars around as if they were nickels. Do you think Congress would possibly take any action that would jeopardize their re-election or union donations? Logic says they should cut the staff dramatically if they are to fulfill their oath of office.
True leadership makes the hard decisions, but Congress does the Washington Two-Step. Please remember these continued inept actions come Election Day November 2010.