Stamp Out Monopolies
On June 10th, the federal government’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing printed its last stamp for the U.S. Postal Service.
For the past several decades, the task of printing stamps has been increasingly outsourced to private companies. As of Friday, no stamps will be printed by the government bureau. The task has been completely privatized.
Why, you may ask?
Costs, mainly. By contracting with the government bureau, the U.S. Postal Service has been wasting too much money. Private printers can print just as well, at less cost.
I’m sure you are shocked. You are absolutely stunned. The idea that private enterprise could do a job at lower cost than a government bureau — why, that’s unthinkable!
But — you aren’t thinking that, are you? You’ve thought through this before.
Well, remember: privatization was almost unthinkable when I was a kid. But reality teaches even the thickest socialists a few lessons. Even they can realize that competition amongst producers leads to decreased costs. Forbidding competition tends to increase costs, as the favored supplier gets lazy, rich, and as contented as the fattest cat on the catbird seat.
Yup. Times have changed; we’ve learned a lot in recent years. So what’s the next lesson?
Well, if the post office can realize that competition among stamp makers makes sense, then perhaps Congress can finally realize that competition among postal deliverers makes sense too. And, before Congress raises the current 37-cent stamp to 39 cents, maybe it can just open up first class — and all other forms of mail — to competition.
That would get my stamp of approval.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.