Almost every American needs the Postal Service so we can receive needed and wanted materials.
Some Americans, including those of us at this newspaper, need that reliability for additional reasons: We depend on postal mail to complete the delivery chain for our newspapers and advertising products.
So even after the controversy over mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election ends, the need to ensure that the Postal Service functions reliably remains a vital concern, regardless of whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden wins the Presidential election.
Long before this year’s controversy over mailed-in election ballots, the Postal Service had problems. The origins are simple enough: The rise of the internet has reduced the volume of mail, but the number of households has not fallen. So the Postal Service is getting less revenue though its delivery expenses remain high. And Congress saddled the Postal Service with a sop to its unions, an onerous pre-funding of pensions that no other business, public or private, needs to do. It is siphoning revenues away from paying for operations.
We ought to be concerned about claims that the Postal Service will not be able to complete the deliveries of by-mail ballots.
But some politicians say the Postal Service ought to be able to break even or even be profitable, and support slashing its operations to achieve profitability at the expense of reliable delivery to us.
FedEx and United Parcel Service, the giants of private package delivery, do not need to reach every household six days a week. The Postal Service is required to do that.
The United States Army “loses” money every year. Nobody bats an eye at that. The Postal Service provides a service that, though nonviolent, is also an essential governmental service. Making it “profitable” is a political pipe dream, not a necessity. We use tax money to support our military, our public health system — even our elections.
But there is room for improvement. The Postal Service has been hamstrung by political coziness among powerful politicians to preserve high-paying jobs that might no longer be needed to deliver the mail in return for political support.
Politicians insist on keeping politically popular post offices in hamlets so small that the practice is patently wasteful.
Changes are needed. But let’s make them after the election, when the consequences of experimentation can be evaluated and possibly reversed without tearing apart the fabric of our democratic republic.
— Denny Bonavita