At some point approaching catastrophe, one has to stop offering googly sounds of uplift and hope, and just speak the truth.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe may understand that. The U.S. Post Office, he recently told the National Press Club, is “in a deep financial crisis because we have a business model that is tied to the past.” Deep ties to the past, indeed. Setting up a postal system was written into the Constitution.
Early in the system’s history, postal positions served as rewards to friends of successful politicians. This put a lot of bad apples into the cider; the business soured. Postage skyrocketed.
This sorry situation brought entrepreneurs into the market, delivering letters at a fraction of the government system’s prices. The politicians fought back, took the competitors to court, and won — on dubious Constitutional grounds.
But they did overhaul the system, reducing prices.
That was a long time ago. Today’s situation may be worse. As Donahoe put it, “We are expected to operate like a business but we do not have the flexibility to do so. Our business model is fundamentally inflexible.”
No surprise, Congress is inflexible. But there are competing bills rumbling around to allegedly fix the financial woes of the institution Donahoe calls “a national treasure.”
Well, if it’s a treasure, sell it off: The federal government could use the money. (Though likely not well.)
And the people could use a good privatized mail service. Or two. Or more.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.