When a business is inefficient or too expensive-- it fails. But not the post office. This week in my syndicated column, I look at why private businesses could run it better.
Reality is at odds with the proud claim on the post office's website that "Since Ben Franklin ... the Postal Service has grown and changed with America." But it's barely changed. You don't tend to see change in "quasi-governmental entities." You see stagnation.
This year the post office tried to limit Saturday delivery to save money. But Congress forbade the change. The politicians' constituents like getting their mail six days a week.
"They don't want a cut in Saturday delivery," Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., told me.
"The USPS does need reform," Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., told the Kansas City Star. "However, reducing core services is not a long-term plan. I worry that reducing services will lead to other reductions like closing rural post offices."
But the post office should do both. The government maintains hundreds of tiny local post offices, each of which brings in less than $700 a month. Running those offices costs much more than that. Some are just one mile away from other post offices.
People like "universal service," which has been taken to mean that every American must get mail service, no matter how deep in the boondocks they live. The post office even hauls mail by mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
"The post office provides something that's extremely valuable and has to be maintained, and that's universal service," Grayson told me. "There are countries a lot poorer than the United States, including the Congo ... that try to provide universal mail service to everybody. ... People don't want post offices closed!"
On the floor of Congress, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., proclaimed that universal service is required, saying, "It's in the Constitution."
But it's not. The Constitution says, "Congress shall (SET ITAL) have the Power (END ITAL) To ... establish Post Offices." But it doesn't (SET ITAL) have (END ITAL) to use that power.
The rest of my syndicated column here.