Friday, November 6, 2009

Hug Your Postal Worker

Sigh. Yglesias:
As run by the government, the USPS loses money ...

Most Postal Service stakeholders believe that the PRA [Postal Reform Act] has been a success. The business model that the Postal Service should support itself on revenues collected from users of the mail has been validated by 38 years in which the Postal Service has broken even, sometimes had no debt, and stopped asking for an appropriation to cover the public service cost of mail service. The PRA gave the Postal Service some independence from executive control over its purse strings, and on the whole the Postal Service has used its discretion responsibly. Arguably, its financial performance is superior to that of the executive branch itself over this period.
In fact, in recent years, the Postal Service has run at a surplus, but Congress continues to demand that it prefund its pension and retiree health benefits at a level that no private sector pension fund has to meet.

I'm semi-agnostic on the question of privatizing the postal service ... I assume it's another urban-to-rural cross subsidy, and people in the far reaches of North Dakota might not have any mail service if it were privatized, but there are so few people out there that increased competition for small parcel might lead to lower costs for so many more people that it makes sense. But like the VA, the Postal Service has escaped it's 1980s failures, and we really ought to end the stereotype that it's a poorly run government service.
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