Wearing gloves and masks to sort the mail…standard now for many postal workers in New Jersey, New York and Washington, DC. A nerve-wracking situation, but maybe there’s an opportunity here, too.
The United States Postal Service is a government-protected monopoly. It still exists because it’s a monopoly. Because a ten-year old kid can get arrested for taking a piece of mail across town for a quarter instead of 34 cents. Over the years, the postal service has hemorrhaged red ink. But it is protected from its own inefficiency. And now taxpayers will have to shell out even more, for all the new security requirements the bug killing equipment and so forth. The new costs could add up to $2.5 billion.
Here’s my idea: Why not let private business deliver the mail? Let’s treat first-class mail delivery like any other business. Do that, and the competing companies will brag not only that they can deliver the mail better, but also make it more secure. They’ll deploy systems like the kind of electronic mail metering, and monitoring, that UPS and other private companies use right now. And private companies would no doubt pay a little bit better attention to protecting their workers than has the Postal Service during the Anthrax contamination.
The folks at the U.S. Postal Service are doing the best they can under very trying and often unfair circumstances. Let’s make things better for us and for them just as fast as we can. Let’s deliver on postal reform. And who knows? Maybe the price of a stamp will go down instead of up.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.