TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

Latest Loss Report Shows it’s Time to End the Postal Monopoly

On Thursday, the United States Postal Service reported a net loss of $15.9 billion for the year. As it becomes increasingly insolvent and increasingly dependent on taxpayer-funded support and bailouts, USPS continues to hold a legal monopoly on the delivery of standard and first-class mail—a monopoly that violates our rights by forcibly preventing us from creating or using private mail companies for those services. Meanwhile, USPS has requested that Congress reduce its delivery schedule to a 5-day week to reduce costs; if Congress were to do so, Americans would be left without any (legal) mail delivery on Saturdays and Sundays. USPS is also trying to increase revenue at the cost of citizens’ time and patience by increasing its delivery of junk mail.

Rather than capitulate to USPS requests, Congress should see this loss as yet another definitive sign that it’s time to shut down or sell the Postal Service and to privatize mail delivery.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Individual Rights and Law

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25515303 Ian Luria

    To what degree are the funding troubles the result of the mandate that USPS pre-fund future retiree benefits? This is a reason many progressives cite as to why USPS is in such trouble.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if the idea of privatizing mail delivery could get some traction if there were a sketch of a real legislative proposal. Something concrete would allow people, including the public, to look it over and answer questions they have. Also, it would have to deal with the transition — business first then residential later or what? A laissez-faire proposal developed first would, at least, get the thing started without statist baggage. What would likely go wrong? Think: a highly regulated industry with rates and services set by some sort of postal commission. Hmm…I suspect the chance of a real privatization of mail delivery would be slim.

  • K W

    I believe the author is mistaken. The USPS receives no tax-payer money (the following news article explicitly states as such: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/11/15/post-office-finances/1707437/). The loss indicated by the author here was not covered by bailouts by by defaulting on payments due to retirement pension plans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?ref=name&id=100000501085308 Martin Lundqvist

    Despite this, the US government is hardly going to let the USPS go out of business because of lack of profits. How are they going to achieve this? Either piece-meal bailout money, or using tax money to subsidize the delivery costs. Either way, it is socialism (corporate welfare) we can expect down the road.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000925697654 Hollis Evon Ramsey

    i emailed and called FedEx about 6 months ago, pleading with them to pick up and deliver regular mail, but any private company would be fine with me.

  • Ross England

    Hi K W,

    You’re right that, as of yet, the recorded loss hasn’t been explicitly covered by tax-payer money, but I didn’t say that it was. Rather, I said “As it becomes increasingly insolvent and increasingly dependent on tax-payer support and bail outs. . . ” in an effort to indicate that its ongoing existence, and particularly its ongoing monopoly on mail, *is* dependent on taxpayer support, as USPS’s recent requests to Congress show.

    That said, USPS does currently receive some direct funding from the taxpayers and substantial indirect support. As just one example, USPS pays no federal taxes on its revenue, which is itself an indirect subsidy. It also means that USPS doesn’t pay for the government infrastructure (roads, etc.) which it uses to deliver the mail (while FedEx, UPS, et al have to pay federal and state taxes to cover such things).