Efficiency down to the letter

Postal Service is hemorrhaging billions; is privatization an option?

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With a growing list of failed or failing federal programs, it’s easy to overlook the one that visits your home six days a week: the U.S. Postal Service.

A King George VII-era post box sits in a residential area in London. Great Britain saved government money by privatizing its postal service. It might be worth a look for the United States to consider a similar move.  ALASTAIR GRANT/ASSOCIATED PRESS
ALASTAIR GRANT/ASSOCIATED PRESS
A King George VII-era post box sits in a residential area in London. Great Britain saved government money by privatizing its postal service. It might be worth a look for the United States to consider a similar move.

Though taxpayers haven’t supported mail delivery since 1971, Congress still controls the Postal Service’s purse strings through stamp rate hikes and by granting it the monopoly on first-class mail delivery.

The federal-employee culture is evident in its inefficient operations, which last year posted a $5 billion loss. Recently a Government Accountability Office official told a House committee that the service ended the last fiscal year $100 billion in debt and with unfunded health benefit liabilities.

“We cannot return the organization to profitability or secure our long-term financial outlook without the passage of comprehensive reform legislation,” Jeffrey Williamson, the service’s executive vice president, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

You know the situation is dire when the organization itself calls for help.

Can Congress finally muster the courage to turn this bloated organization around?

Past attempts to end Saturday mail delivery and to close post offices and processing plants were met with fierce opposition from the four postal worker unions, which are among the largest donors to the Democratic Party.

A Senate bill with bipartisan support would institute five-day delivery after 2017, close some facilities after two years, and recover overpayments into the federal pension system to address the Postal Service’s two biggest financial liabilities, retiree pension and health care costs.

However, we are less than optimistic legislators will make meaningful changes in this quasi-public organization, since Washington’s version of “reform” usually means “bailout.”

If Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican head of the House Oversight Committee, really wanted to set the stage for reform discussions, he could invite Moya Greene to make opening statements to the committee. She’s the former Canadian executive who helped Great Britain privatize its 500-year-old Royal Mail service in 2013 after a 40-year battle.

Like the Postal Service, the Royal Mail was also facing reduced mail volume, spiraling costs and lackluster innovation. Now, it’s on the FTSE 100 index of the London Stock Exchange.

Full privatization might be just what the U.S. Postal Service needs. It’s at least worth considering. If it can be done in Britain, it surely can be done here.

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deestafford
27791
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deestafford 04/05/14 - 05:15 am
5
2
If you want to get the liberals screaming as if you pulled...

If you want to get the liberals screaming as if you pulled their "eye teeth" just suggest privatizing any government agency. The postal service is one of its sacred cows and no matter how much money it loses and how much efficiency could be increased they would never voter for privatization of the post office.

If one reads the history of the postal service in America one would discover that Ben Franklin started it and a letter could go from Philadelphia to Boston in one day. Oh, by the way, he made a profit on running it.

There is so much the federal government is doing that should be privatized because those things would be run more efficiently. What the statists don't want to admit is when the states ratified The Constitution they were figuratively hiring the federal government to be their agent to do those few and well-defined enumerated things that they believed were better handled by a centralized government.

The thing that scares the statists/liberals/progressives about private enterprise running anything is their innate fear of someone making a profit and lord knows we can't have anyone making a profit by providing a better service or product than the all mighty federal government.

Bodhisattva
6242
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Bodhisattva 04/05/14 - 08:17 am
3
8
Why oh why can't the Chronicle tell the whole truth?

" inefficient operations, which last year posted a $5 billion loss. Recently a Government Accountability Office official told a House committee that the service ended the last fiscal year $100 billion in debt and with unfunded health benefit liabilities."

Thanks to the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act of 2006, which was forced down the throat of the USPS and the US by the GOP (and a couple of Democrats) on a voice vote and was refused a roll call vote when requested by the GOP. On the Senate side, it was passed on the last day of a lame duck session, after midnight, with no debate, no vote, by "unanimous consent" with no record of how many Senators were present. It required the USPS to fund all health care expenses for 75 years within a 10 year period. I doubt the Chronicle any kind of benefits as generous, but do they have a bank account stored to cover benefits for employees who won't be born for the next 30 or 40 years? How long could they afford to stay in business if they had to? BTW: If it wasn't for this horrible bill, the USPS would have turned a profit the last 4 years. This is nothing but ALEC lobbying for FedEx and UPS to kill the USPS to stifle inexpensive competition. Why should some poor slob be able to mail a letter for under 50¢ when they can make $20.00 off them?

willie7
955
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willie7 04/05/14 - 08:39 am
0
0
While the USPS is structured
Unpublished

While the USPS is structured like a business, Congress often prevents it from actually operating like a private company, such as taking actions to reduce costs, improve efficiency, or innovate in other ways. The agency is also obligated by statute to provide mail services to all Americans, irrespective of where they live and the cost of serving them. Furthermore, it is required to deliver first-class mail at a uniform price throughout the nation.

Bizkit
31646
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Bizkit 04/05/14 - 08:35 am
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The bill was sponsored by

The bill was sponsored by Thomas “Tom” Davis III (Rep Virginia) and cosponsored by two Dems and one Rep Davis, Danny [D-IL7] McHugh, John [R-NY23], Waxman, Henry [D-CA30]. "The PAEA stipulates that the USPS is to make payments of $5.4 - $5.8 billion into the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund, each year, from 2007 to 2016 in order to prefund 50 years of estimated costs. This requirement also explicitly stated that the USPS was to stop using its savings to reduce postal debt, which was stipulated in Postal Civil Service Retirement System Funding Reform Act of 2003.[4] This is in addition to deductions from pay for federal contribution to social services.[5] This pre-funding method is unique to the USPS. In June 2011, the USPS had to suspend its weekly payment of 115 million into the fund because it had reached 8 billion dollars in debt and the retirement plan had a surplus of 6.9 billion dollars.[6] The Postal Service has not made any of the pre-funding payments since that time." So its in 9 years pre-fund 50 years.

Bizkit
31646
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Bizkit 04/05/14 - 08:42 am
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0
ALL

ALL ACTIONS:
12/7/2006:
Referred to the House Committee on Government Reform.
12/8/2006 10:10pm:
Mr. Davis, Tom moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended.
12/8/2006 10:11pm:
Considered under suspension of the rules. (consideration: CR H9160-9182)
12/8/2006 10:11pm:
DEBATE - The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 6407.
12/8/2006 10:33pm:
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote. (text: CR H9160-9179)
12/8/2006 10:33pm:
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.
12/8/2006:
Received in the Senate, read twice.
12/9/2006:
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent. (consideration: CR 12/8/2006 S11821-11822)
12/9/2006:
Cleared for White House.
12/11/2006:
Message on Senate action sent to the House.
12/19/2006:
Presented to President.
12/20/2006:
Signed by President.
12/20/2006:
Became Public Law No: 109-435.

Junket103
452
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Junket103 04/05/14 - 08:47 am
3
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Something Needs To Be Done

The USPS has been subject to 2 major factors over the past 15 years, the proliferation of the internet and the meddling of Congress. The USPS would operate far more efficiently if Congress was removed from any connection except limited oversight and guidance. Since the internet is here to stay and will eventually take over more functions that postal workers cover, it is incumbent that USPS go through a comprehensive overhaul and fast.

I find very little compelling reason to keep my mail box any longer. Almost everything I receive is junk mail, my neighbors junk mail or unsolicited old catalogs addressed to former residents from the last century. The junk mail and retail industry should be forced to cover the entire cost of mail delivery. Give customers the right to opt out of junk mail and notice how mail delivery could be accomplished on a weekly basis for non commercial customers.

Bizkit
31646
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Bizkit 04/05/14 - 08:59 am
4
0
HR 22 January 4, 2005 –

HR 22 January 4, 2005 – February 9, 2006 *failed*
It seems this bill has been in the works for years. Where we can catch-up to it is in the 109th Congress (2005-2006). On January 4, 2005, HR 22, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act was introduced by Rep The original bill was proposed by John McHugh (R-NY23). It came out of committee on April 13, 2005.

There were 163 cosponsors of the bill: 104 Democrats, 58 Republicans, and 1 independent. Well-known Democrats and Independents (just one) were part of the cosponsor list. It passed the House on Jul 26, 2005. The vote was 410 to 20 – quite the bipartisan vote.
It is also important to note that the ‘pre-funding of the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund (Title VIII, Section 8909a) in the above bill (HR 22) did not have the precise dollar amount payment schedule (e.g. ‘$5.4B not later than Sept 30, 2007’ that the enacted bill has). Instead, there were formulas.

HR 22 died after the Senate passed the bill with changes.
Then in 2006 HR6407 was introduced that produced the law. I think the pre funding was a Dem idea and now are blaming Rep for their bad judgment-much like the economic collapse with Frank and Dodd denying any culpability in the collapse.

seenitB4
87492
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seenitB4 04/05/14 - 09:01 am
6
1
The postal union will have to bend some

This time Bod has it right---congress hasn't been a friend in this mess.

They can pull out of this but they will have to cut days of service & cut the deadwood out of the system.

Bizkit
31646
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Bizkit 04/05/14 - 09:07 am
7
0
But Bod is just blaming Rep

But Bod is just blaming Rep when the original bill introduced the pre-funding with bipartisan consent.

Bizkit
31646
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Bizkit 04/05/14 - 09:35 am
3
1
I think progressives are

I think progressives are outta control. Make hay over Hobby lobby as an excuse to attack religion, then proceed to out Mozilla exec for personal decisions made years ago because he defends traditional definition of marriage-which was the law of the land till recently declared unconstitutional). They are doing harm for supporters of gay unions because this will just raise ire. I've supported gay unions as a civil act, but since folks aren't going to be civil and use terrorism (much as the gay community had been terrorized in the past before broad acceptance) they lose my support.

Riverman1
84265
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Riverman1 04/05/14 - 09:39 am
2
1
E-mail.

E-mail.

edcushman
7930
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edcushman 04/05/14 - 09:42 am
6
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"But Bod is just blaming Rep
Unpublished

"But Bod is just blaming Rep when the original bill introduced the pre-funding with bipartisan consent. "
Why oh why can't Bod 'tell the whole truth'.

Bizkit
31646
Points
Bizkit 04/05/14 - 10:00 am
6
2
Obama, Reid, Pelosi all

Obama, Reid, Pelosi all caught red-handed lying, and even denying it with video proof exists. Now you just have to assume a progressive democrat is lying to you-it's what parsimony (Occam's razor) dictates-the simplest answer is correct they are all a bunch of liars.

carcraft
26021
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carcraft 04/05/14 - 10:56 am
7
2
My Heavens Bod, the

My Heavens Bod, the affordable care act was passed through a procedural maneuver and did not have one Republican vote. Yet all we hear from Bod is "it's the law " ! Any sense of cognative dissonance?

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 04/05/14 - 11:40 am
8
2
"Why oh why can't the
Unpublished

"Why oh why can't the Chronicle tell the whole truth?"

Bod we have asked you the same question numerous times, but your hit and run nature prevents you from answering. Seems a great deal like Techfan, who claimed to never post here again.....at about the same time Bod showed up. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Darby
25800
Points
Darby 04/05/14 - 11:38 am
7
1
"Why oh why can't Bod 'tell the whole truth."

Could it be because burdening us down with shady "facts" and limitless minutia is so much more fun?

Jon Lester
2314
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Jon Lester 04/05/14 - 12:03 pm
1
6
You want it to cost $4 or more to send a letter?

Seriously, sometimes your contempt for common people is staggering. Or maybe you really do believe your own crap.

Bizkit
31646
Points
Bizkit 04/05/14 - 12:11 pm
6
0
True Lester we need to hold

True Lester we need to hold govt accountable cause both parties are screwing US and blaming the other for the misdeeds.

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 04/05/14 - 12:13 pm
3
3
As infrequently as I send a
Unpublished

As infrequently as I send a letter via snail mail, $4 would be just fine.

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 04/05/14 - 12:14 pm
6
2
And just maybe it would
Unpublished

And just maybe it would discourage all the junk mail.

carcraft
26021
Points
carcraft 04/05/14 - 12:59 pm
5
1
If I ever set an E-pay

If I ever set an E-pay account a lot of my snail mailing will end. Once again bloated unions are screwing up a good thing. My, My the rath you will pay for opposing unions, ask Scot Walker!

burninater
9608
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burninater 04/05/14 - 02:42 pm
2
6
"If you want to get the

"If you want to get the liberals screaming as if you pulled their "eye teeth" just suggest privatizing any government agency. The postal service is one of its sacred cows and no matter how much money it loses and how much efficiency could be increased they would never voter for privatization of the post office."
-------
I think you've got this one backwards, Dee. I can't recall the US Postal Service ever being a target of liberal activism or party platform. On the contrary, within the private sector the vocal opponents to modification of postal services due to cost considerations are invariably 1) rural customers, whose low population density make the economics of the service cost-prohibitive, and 2) business groups, who receive subsidized delivery of advertisements and commercial solicitations to every resident in the country. Neither of these groups are typically "screaming liberals."

What you and this editorial seem to be puzzlingly unaware of is that the REAL force of opposition to this is the text of the Constitution, which is currently interpreted to make privatization of this service unconstitutional.

"The thing that scares the statists/liberals/progressives about private enterprise running anything is their innate fear of someone making a profit and lord knows we can't have anyone making a profit by providing a better service or product than the all mighty federal government."
------
You also have this backwards. The vast majority of "statists/liberals/progressives" fall within the moderate voting center of the population. They are active participants and embracers of the assumptions of private property and for-profit enterprise. What they appear to desire is the use of gov't authority to oppose the ethic that the maximization of profit should be our primary social moral good. They recognize, and seek to mitigate, the negative externalities often produced by individual self-interest. This is not to say that individual profit-taking is bad, or feared -- but that it can produce negative unintended consequences, and that an intelligent society seeks to learn from its past and proactively mitigate those negative consequences.

edcushman
7930
Points
edcushman 04/05/14 - 02:56 pm
5
2
"You also have this
Unpublished

"You also have this backwards. The vast majority of "statists/liberals/progressives" fall within the moderate voting center of the population. They are active participants and embracers of the assumptions of private property and for-profit enterprise. "
burn, I judge people by their actions and the actions of most "statists/liberals/progressives" are anything but 'within the moderate voting center' fact is they are just the opposite. I can tell the difference when someone is peeing on my leg and tells me it is raining.

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 04/05/14 - 03:06 pm
4
2
"You also have this
Unpublished

"You also have this backwards. The vast majority of "statists/liberals/progressives" fall within the moderate voting center of the population."

Well, that settles it. No proof required. Just say it and it is so....right?

burninater
9608
Points
burninater 04/05/14 - 03:17 pm
2
5
"I can tell the difference

"I can tell the difference when someone is peeing on my leg and tells me it is raining."
-----
Well, I would certainly hope so.

"Well, that settles it. No proof required. Just say it and it is so....right?"
------
Nope, my statement is based on paying attention to polling data. But here, LMGTFY (Let Me Google That For You).

This article's a good place to start wrapping one's mind around the idea that on many major policy issues, the majority of Americans consistently support strong gov't roles in social policy. Obamacare is a recent strong exception, but it is consistently the specific policy that is unpopular, not the underlying premise that gov't should play a role in facilitating the delivery of healthcare and/or controlling costs.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2014/01/06/how-polarize...

burninater
9608
Points
burninater 04/05/14 - 04:05 pm
2
3
"And ignoring polling data

"And ignoring polling data that doesn't support your preconceived notions?"
------
No, you are presenting data that ask a different question.

My post concerns peoples' views on the specific role of gov't in society -- how involved should the gov't be in the regulation of healthcare, retirement, unemployment benefits, minimum wage, etc.

Your post concerns how people self-identify in the broad categories of liberal vs. conservative.

If you combine our two posts, you reach the following understanding of the American electorate: even when voters SELF-IDENTIFY as majority conservative from an ideologic standpoint, their actual feelings about the specific role of gov't in society clearly demonstrates majority support for moderately centrist gov't policy.

Darby
25800
Points
Darby 04/05/14 - 04:29 pm
5
1
Face it...

The USPS can not compete in a free market economy. If they had to pay their bills without taxpayer subsidies, they would have been on the trash heap of history decades ago.

Their "Thumb in the dike" management style doesn't keep their collective heads above water and can never succeed....

The Service exists primarily to provide an artificial boost to the federal jobs market and to pad the roles of the labor unions.

Accept it!!
Or not, I don't really care.

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 04/05/14 - 05:02 pm
3
1
That's just your opinion,
Unpublished

That's just your opinion, burn.

t3bledsoe
14290
Points
t3bledsoe 04/05/14 - 05:05 pm
1
2
The postal service

My family as been following the problem with them for a long time!! How is privatization going to help?? Won't the private company want even more money in order to make a huge profit?? Either let a non-profit company take it, or SIMPLY cut out WED. and Fri. delivery!! One other thing that is NOT BEING CONSIDERED is that those little "jeeps" are wearing out VERY QUICKLY!!

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