Social Question

ETpro's avatar

Should we let the US Postal Service die?

Asked by ETpro (34436points) February 9th, 2012

If you listen to regressive right-wing sources, you will hear that it’s all the postal union’s fault. All that’s needed to fix things is for the unions to give up wage and benefit packages or just cease to exist. But is that true? How about the poison pill Republican lawmakers pushed through the 2008 lame dick session of congress. That bill required the Post Office to overpay $7 billion to the Federal Employee Retirement System and $50 to 75 billion to the Civil Service Retirement System. It also required the the USPS pre-fund it’s retiree pension plan for the next 75 years over just 10 years, at a cost of about $8 billion per year. No private enterprise would ever think to do such a thing, and there is no reason for the post office to do it, other than to give Republicans one more phony “proof” of the evil of unions and government in general, and to let them destroy the Post Office in order to benefit CEOs of private sector corporations that compete with the USPS.

Before someone tries it, let’s dispose with one more right-wing = wrong-headed talking point. The USPS is not taxpayer funded and has not been for over 30 years now. It runs entirely from revenues it generates, just as any private business does. The line item in the Federal budget that goes to the USPS is payment for free mailing, called Franking Services, afforded by law to all members of Congress and their staffs.

The US Constitution requires that we have a postal service. Republicans claim to love the Constitution but seem to mean just a few phrases found here and there in it. If regressives succeed in destroying the postal service so they can out-source its work to private carriers who financially support them, they will throw 621,929 people out of work in tough economic times. Far worse, it will mean that many small businesses, particularly in rural settings not served by the for-profit delivery services, will have to shut down, putting the owners and all their employees out of work. This will mean millions of additional jobs lost. Is this what regressives mean when they say, “Jobs, jobs, jobs”? It seems all their actual plans are about how to put people out of jobs, or create more jobs offshore and more profits for multinational CEOs and investors.

Do we want to let the regressives succeed in killing the Postal Service? Would we be way better off if the only letter services were UPS and FedEx, with costs between $5 and $20 to simply mail a letter? Would it be good if businesses that rely on the USPS’ low cost, “If it fits it ships.” packaging to offer free shippiing having to go to charging freight on every order? How about if all the rural business that use the USPS just had to go out of business because the for-profit delivery services charge a heavy surcharge just to visit their location. Is it just fine to ignore the Constitution except when you personally like what a particular sentence in it says? If you think the Post Office is worth saving, how should we save it?

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74 Answers

poofandmook's avatar

If the Constitution says we must have a postal service, you can’t sit here and question whether or not that’s still valid. Because if you did, then everything in the Constitution becomes questionable and then everything in the Declaration of Independence would be questionable as well… and if enough idiots decided to dismantle the postal service, before you know it, there would be no free speech except what the Republicans deem appropriate, people of German descent would be forced to stand trial for the Holocaust, and probably not long after that, there would be a “national religion” enforced by the insane right wings who insist that everyone not of their religious beliefs are going straight to hell tomorrow.

Not a good idea.

Nullo's avatar

@poofandmook The Constitution is routinely challenged – this business with the Catholic Church being required to provide “birth control” (including abortions), for instance, is a wild stab at the First Amendment. Not saying it’s a good thing, but it does happen.
The actual text of the Constitution states that Congress has the power to create and maintain a postal system, not that it must. I, for one, rather like the idea of the USPS; I suspect that it needs remodeling, though.

poofandmook's avatar

@Nullo: Oh, it happens… just saying it usually isn’t a good idea.

I personally know one older gentleman who doesn’t have a cell phone, or a computer, receives all his bills in the mail and writes each of them a check. You can’t dismantle the USPS… believe it or not, thousands of people would be lost without it.

marinelife's avatar

If the postal service can survive in the current climate in which snail mail is dying, then it should live.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I can’t afford to be in business if the PO dies. Plain & simple.

EDIT: If you think the Post Office is worth saving, how should we save it?

I say, we use it. I use it daily to mail small & large packages worldwide. The PO beats the price/time of all it’s competitors. Plus I can print the postage from my home printer and have the mailman pick it up for free. Most of my 1st class packages arrive to their destinations within 48hrs.

To save money, I think it’s time to stop paying for commercials.

Nullo's avatar

@SpatzieLover There are some things that the USPS won’t handle. Ammunition, for instance, must be shipped by FedEx, UPS, or that other one.

Jeruba's avatar

For Pete’s sake, it isn’t snail mail. It’s fast and efficient and well handled.

Aethelwine's avatar

I will gladly pay more for postage if it would save the USPS. I just sent two birthday cards to my father for his 76th birthday. Those two cards will make his day. I only paid a total of .90 cents to send the two cards. I would pay $5 if I had to. It’s worth it to me.

JLeslie's avatar

Nooooo! This upsets me beyond belief. I love the history of our postal service. It is in our constitution. Small little towns cannot rely on big business to service them. I am fine with raising letter fees if necessary. I also think we should go to 5 day delivery service if it will help. I really hope we always have the USPS.

Jaxk's avatar

The constitution provides congress with the authority to establish post offices and postal roads. It’s quite a stretch to read that as a mandate. The Post Office lost $5 Billion in 2011 and $8.5 billion in 2010. Those losses are covered by our taxes. The Post Office is over $15 billion in debt on thier line of credit from the government. Doesn’t sound like a profitable business nor can we say they are not funded by our taxes.

I have no problem with making changes that might bring them back to solvency. Cut out Saturday delivery or maybe even every other day delivery. Raise the price to the point that it pays for itself and for god’s sake get rid of the rules that make them pay for employees they don’t need.

DeanV's avatar

Before removing it completely, it seems like it would be a better idea to make as many attempts to keep it as possible. Without letting it “die”, it seems like it would make sense to eliminate Saturday delivery for one, likely saving a lot of money.

pshizzle's avatar

As the child of a former USPS employee, long live the USPS!

mrrich724's avatar

As a 27 year old, the USPS serves no purpose other than filling my mailbox with GARBAGE. Anything pertinent comes via UPS or FedEx. Anything REALLY pertinent, comes via email or text.

I haven’t been to the post office in YEARS since I haven’t needed to go.

As time goes on, more people will see it this way, as all my friends already do.

No offense to the fogies out there, but maybe some of the money wasted on USPS should be spent on teaching people to get with the times and get off their dependency of the USPS.

All my billing and accounting is done online, EVERYTHING.

I actually think that if we’re going to waste money on a relic, do it on something much more romantically enjoyable, like trains. I’d spend money taking a scenic train, or even for a commute before I spent it on USPS.

jca's avatar

@mrrich724: You never mail cards to anybody? Birthday, holiday?

trailsillustrated's avatar

NOooooo! I send stuff home there cause it’s the cheapest! And they are so nice and helpful! I love the USPS.

wilma's avatar

I go to the post office every day to get my mail. I send things to my daughter in another state and I pay bills with the USPS.
I think they might be able to tighten their belts, but I hope they don’t go away entirely.

Aethelwine's avatar

@mrrich724 My landlord is a farmer and we mail him a check each month for rent. fyi- We aren’t all city folk. A lot of people rely on the USPS. Especially the poor and those who live in rural areas. It’s not just the fogies.

mrrich724's avatar

@jonsblond should EVERYONE be responsible for farmers and people in rural areas? Being a libertarian my response is no. People live with the choices they make when they live in any particular area, and I don’t see why this shouldn’t be added to the list. If it made a huge impact and affected SO MANY people, than there should be enough of “them” to subsidize the cost of the post office, no? And if not, why should others, who have other means, be responsible for supporting it? I don’t imagine “poor” people getting important mail every day (?) And the REALLY poor pay in cash (I’ve met enough to know they are in circumstances where they don’t have bank accounts with checks to write)

@jca I mail cards SO infrequently that having to pay a couple bucks for FedEx or UPS wouldn’t be an issue for me. (Rather than the 50–60 cents or whatever it is nowadays) But is ‘celebratory cards’ really a good reason to keep the USPS alive, if it costs millions a year?

I think that it’s not black and white yet, but we already see which way it’s going. Within one generation so many less people find the USPS relevant that this is an issue of discussion. Imagine one or two more generations down the road when people become savvy enough not to even need to print things out. I can totally see how ALL my work can be done digitally, but my 40 year old counterparts hyperventilate when I ask they WHY they needed to print a particular document.

Aethelwine's avatar

@mrrich724 do you not realize how many people live in rural areas? Get on your internets and do a little research. You’d be amazed! and I guess the farmers shouldn’t be responsible for all the food they provide for everyone. Let everyone in the city grow their own food.~

mrrich724's avatar

Like I said @jonsblond if there are so many, then they should pay for it should they not? I do know. I used to live in Florida’s pan handle for 7 years, I’ve done the top-to-bottom Florida drive enough times, and have been to Alabama and Georgia, and North Carolina, and Central California and other “boonie” places to know how prevalent it is.

But my point is if people need it, they can/should pay for it. And if there were enough revenues to this end, it wouldn’t be a topic of discussion.

Aethelwine's avatar

I do pay for it @mrrich724.

wilma's avatar

So many people do not have computers or access to new technology, including other people, not in the United States that they may correspond with.

jca's avatar

@mrrich724: I am not sure if you’re aware of this, but really poor people may be relying on public assistance, Medicaid, food stamps. They may not have computers and the documents, forms, etc. that they receive from local Social Services would come via USPS.

Yes, maybe in the future letters and bills won’t need to come via USPS but what about packages? What about online shopping? Should those costs go up because shipping would be done via UPS or Fed Ex at maybe twice the price?

Aethelwine's avatar

@mrrich724 If you look I edited my response to you about farmers. should EVERYONE be responsible for farmers and people in rural areas? Being a libertarian my response is no. People live with the choices they make when they live in any particular area, and I don’t see why this shouldn’t be added to the list.

My response to you is: Should farmers be responsible to provide food for those who choose to live in the city? People live with the choices they make when they live in a particular area, right? Is your answer still no? What would everyone who lives in the city do without the services farmers provide?

mrrich724's avatar

@jca I actually have people getting medicaid and medicare in my family. In my bum of a father’s example his free handout is directly deposited into his account. There are solutions to all of that far greater/cheaper/ AND better for the environment than the USPS. So should the USPS be preserved to give people handouts? NO. Especially in 2011 when there are better and quicker ways to get them their money!

@jonsblond No, farmers shouldn’t be responsible for giving us food. But they do it because it’s their job and it makes them money. Oh, and it isn’t their job because I told them so. It’s they’re job because they chose it. They aren’t being philanthropic by growing food for us to eat. I don’t think that’s a relevant example at all.

I’m not saying it shouldn’t exist, for it has already proven its usefulness to many. What I’m saying is:

1) There are other solutions, be it electronic, or competition like UPS and FedEx
2) If people need it, let them pay for it! And if the USPS can’t prove it’s necessity and relevance like any other entity which generates revenues or goes away, then the USPS shouldn’t be an exception.

jca's avatar

@mrrich724: I work for Social Services. I know that people’s money is directly deposited into their accounts. I know that the documents that people get informing them that it’s time for them to recertify come via USPS. Yes, many of them have smart phones but many of them don’t, including a lot of elderly.

mrrich724's avatar

@jca and that’s enough of a reason to spend even more millions and keep such a huge entity alive? I don’t think on it’s own, or even paired with the other reasons posed on this board, it’s enough of a reason to pump millions more into something that can’t do well on its own.

The country has gone how many years without the postal service? It will get along. And it will do so without going back to the 1800’s as, like I’ve stated there are many other acceptable substitutes.

Hey, we don’t need to agree. But again, like I said, in only one generation, mine it’s already come this far. It won’t take long for even more people to realize that we can do without it.

Only ten years ago it would be unthinkable not to have the USPS, and now, it’s a very good debate with relevant points on both sides of the equation . . . how much longer, how much more money spent, and how many more young people being those who are taxed on something they don’t use until it’s gone?

It will quickly get to a point where it isn’t even a debate.

And while I love farmers markets, and supporting locally grown produce (we LOVE going to farmers markets, and sometimes even paying the 200% rates they charge to stay alive, in support of them) even in that aspect, the major farms that produce our goods are even more tecnologically advanced than we are. So they don’t have problems getting their money…

Watch, it won’t take long. So believe what every you want (just like I do), but it’s unfolded pretty quickly in a pretty clear direction…

SpatzieLover's avatar

@mrrich724 Most of my ebay store packages weigh between 2 to 8 ounces. If I shipped via UPS or FedEx I’d be in the hole. Maybe you only receive junk mail via USPS, but that is certainly not true for everyone.

I homeschool…without media mail, I’d pay through the nose on our yearly supply of books & mixed media.

AstroChuck's avatar

Do I really need to chime in here? Of course with 27 years of postal service under my ever expanding belt I cannot be completely objective here. So of course I feel there is a need for mail delivery. And since the constitution requires a postal system in the US, you are going to have it. The real problem with the USPS and its financial situation is not the union wages the various postal labor organizations have bargained for, regardless of what the Postmaster General and republicans in congress want the public to believe. The fact is the outgoing 2006 GOP congress placed a poison pill mandate on the United States Postal Service that requires them to prefund its employee pension plan for 75 years. That means they have to prefund pensions for employees who haven’t even been born yet. No other pension plan anywhere is required to do this. This has cost the USPS over $20 billion dollars just these past four years. If not for this mandate the US Postal Service would be operating in the black. So the sky needn’t be falling if congress would stop trying to destroy the USPS and set it up as a private, for profit business.

anartist's avatar

The push to outsourcing services has been going on for years in all branches of the US government. If it tries hard enough, who can stop it? If the US government deliberately embarks on a campaign to outprice and underserve postal customers relative to commercial vendors, who will mourn the death of the pony express? However, the legalities of “tampering with the US mail” will undergo some interesting changes if that happens.

@astrochuck thanks for the “poison pill” info. BTW even though I have government health insurance and now retiree health insurance, I have always envied the postal workers’ health insurance plan. It was always the best. Unless some clandestine services have better ones [but I always suspected they might ride the coattails of the USPS].

Pandora's avatar

No! All these other businesses will step in and then rip us off as they compete. If people think stamps are expensive now, wait until its been outsourced.

john65pennington's avatar

Just think how much money the Postal Service would save, if they did away with bonuses that are paid to Postmaster each year. Its a lot. Look it up.

ETpro's avatar

@poofandmook Yeah, but how do you really feel about Republicans? :-) Thanks for being clear on your position.

@Nullo Let’s not try the usual right-wing trick of converting a question you don’t like into an entirely different one you do. I’d like to stay on topic for at least a few responses. But you are absolutely wrong about your interpretation of the 1st Amendment protection of freedom of religion. The Constitution protects religious practice and teachings, not the right of religious institutions to operate businesses with exemptions from labor laws that apply to all other businesses. Nobody is forcing Catholics to change their articles of faith. But when they own businesses that hire the general public and sell to the general public, what the rule is saying is they have to comply with labor laws that apply to all businesses. There are 28 states with similar laws already. This has been to the Supreme Court. It is NOT a violation of the 1st Amendment.

@marinelife The USPS wouldn’t be in any trouble if it were not for the poison pill the Republicans fed it by law. I didn’t mention this, but there are many laws further restricting what the postal service can do to generate revenue—laws that do not apply to any other business. We could actually be increasing the reach and services of the USPS if we quit using laws to tie their hands behind their back before sending them into the fight to survive.

@SpatzieLover Thanks for the input. I think just about every small business that survives by shipping product and operates out in a rural setting would be put out of business if the regressive succeed in defying the Constitution and killing the Post Office.

@Jeruba You are so right. In typical regressive fashion, years before the actual poison pill the feminization begins. Snail mail if handled by the Post Office. Express delivery if by a for profit carrier. Never mine that the private carrier charges 1100%+ more than the Post Office for less service. The Postal Service works great and is an important part of American business infrastructure.


@JLeslie I appreciate your intentions to save the USPS, but don’t try to get there that way. The real problem is the Republican poison pill, not the time to deliver a letter or the first-class postage rate. If you leave the poison pill in place and start jacking up prices while slashing services, that’s a blueprint to the death spiral for any business. That is just what the regressives want.

@Jaxk Re the Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 states: Congress shall have the power, “To establish Post Offices and post Roads;”. Clause 5 empowers Congress, “To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;”, and clause 6 allows Congress “To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current coin of the United States;”. Clauses 12 and 13 allow Congress to raise armies and to establish a Navy. Are you actually arguing that the Founders never intended for Congress to do any of these things, or that clause 7 is somehow unique and only it should be tossed aside?

The “losses” you list are exactly in line with the USPS paying the costs of the poison pill regressives fed it in 2008. See the details of the OP on that. If that ridiculous law were not in place, the USPS would be a profitable venture. Care to deal with why regressives wanted to feed the Post Office a poison pill, or are we just going to avoid the real issue and talk about fluff once more?

@DeanV Wouldn’t it make better sense to remove the poison pill (see the question details) that is actually killing the Post Office, rather than trimming services which always leads to revenue and market shrinkage?

@pshizzle Thanks to your Postal Parent.

@mrrich724 First, let me agree on one point where I am with you. The USPS loses money on junk mail. End it. I am OK with that. If a Spammer wants to send me a letter, it should cost him just as much as it costs me to mail back a drop-dead note.

Past that, as I read your ramblings, I am left thinking that maybe we ought to spend some money teaching your generation the value of informing themselves before speaking. You obviously did not read the question details, as you glossed over them and are making statements debunked in them rather than trying to rebut them. As @jonsblond points out, your answer seems to ignore everyone not exactly like you. Why do you think you count when other people do not?

One more point. Including electronic authenticated messaging as a service is one of the possible plans for expanding revenue potential for the post office. Right now, it’s just one of a very large number of valuable delivery services that Congress, in their infinite idiocy, has decided to prohibit the Post Office from touching.

As far as paying for the USPS goes, @mrrich724, this again shows you couldn’t be bothered with reading the question details. The USPS would be plenty profitable right now if a Republican law did not require it to pre fund its pensions for the next 75 years, costing it $8 billion a year that NO for-profit business would dream of shelling out.

And as to spending more millions that’s one more detail you missed in the OP details. The Post Office is funded NOT by taxpayers but by revenues it generates from services. This had been true since the early 1980s, or more bluntly, since before you were born.

wilma & jca Great points.

@AstroChuck I am so glad you did decide to chime in, and by all means you should. You at least know the facts of this matter, and aren’t left to be driven about by political spin. Thanks for bringing focus back to the real problem, Regressives and the poison pill they dropped into law in 2006.

@anartist Thanks.

@Pandora Amen to that.

@john65pennington One more thing that is NOT the problem. The $8 billion a year poison pill put into law by the Republicans in 2006 in a lame-duck session is the problem. It adds a completely unnecessary $8 nbillion a year to the post office’s costs. You’ve swallowed the Regressive’s bait, hook, line and sinker. You are set to fix an 8$8 billion a year artifical problem by cancelling a $265,000 bonus. Yeah, right, as in right-wing.

It’s funny. Regressives are just fine with the top hedge fund manager getting a $4 billion a year bonus. All the top hedge fund managers get a bonusa of a billion or more per year. They produce what now? Oh yeah, profits for themselves and the billionaires that put money in their hands., And they also helped crash the US economy and bring us to the brink of another worldwide depression. But give a $265,000 per year bonus to the guy who tries to figure out how to deliver your mail despite the $8 billion per year poison pill Repugs fed the USPS, and the right runs around with their hair on fire over the waste.

Aethelwine's avatar

@ETpro I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for being such a thoughtful Flutherite for responding to everyone who answered your question. You are so kind.

ETpro's avatar

@jonsblond I care. I cannot do less.

Aqua's avatar

My understanding is that the elasticity for the USPS is relatively high (ie., there are many other substitutes like UPS, FedEx, the internet, etc). For elastic goods/services, a small increase in price will cause a large decrease in the quantity demanded. The way to increase revenues for elastic goods/services is to decrease the price, not increase the price. If the USPS wants to increase revenues, it should lower the price of stamps (and other services) to increase the incentive for people to use its services.

ETpro's avatar

@Aqua That only works when your competition is close to or below your price. The minimum competition for letter service is currently 1100% more expensive than the Postal Service and delivers less service., Unless you are already a bulk shipper with the private carrier, you have to take your letter to their nearest facility. There is no home pickup and there are no drop boxes.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro I was just throwing out ideas, I don’t know enough about what effects the USPS P&L I only know I am in favor of evaluating what can be done, and willing to go along with some changes if they make sense.

@mrrich724 I do 95% of my mailing with USPS. My father, who sells books, mails with USPS almost daily. I agree USPS cannot function in the red for years on end, something needs to be done. I also agree rural people don’t get a free ride, but they don’t get a free ride. People who live in NYC, and mail a letter to Los Angeles, I am guessing when they send a letter their 44¢, or whatever it costs now, I truly don’t know, doesn’t quite cover the cost; and the guy in Lakeland, TN, who sent a card to Cordova, TN just paid too much. It just needs to balance out. I guess maybe we could charge different amounts even for letter service depending on distance, but there is something really nice about it costing the same for all Americans. Nice when we send 10 cards out for Christmas, or 50 wedding invitations. Still, I would go along with it, if it made financial sense.

jrpowell's avatar

About 18 months ago I sent PnL my old iPod Touch that was pretty much dead. I stopped by Fedex and they wanted a little over 11 dollars to ship it. So I walked a few blocks down to the post office since the amount Fedex wanted was insane. I paid $2.81 at USPS for the same service.

She got it in two days and it went from Oregon to Ohio.

The iPod touch just needed a new battery and the Apple Store hooked her up.

wilma's avatar

@johnpowell it’s nice to see that a young techy computer guy can still see the value in some of the older forms of communication.
There is not a one “size fit’s all” answer to the way people live.

Jaxk's avatar


Your interpretation of the constitution is nonsensical. You have the right to keep and bear arms as well. That doesn’t mean you have to own a gun. The power to establish postal service also means they can eliminate it.

The post office has been in trouble even before the congressional legislation to pre fund the benefits package. According to this study from 2009, “even before PAEA’s enactment in early FY2007, the rate of growth of the USPS’s operating expenses exceeded that of its operating revenues. Between FY1999 and FY2006
USPS’s operating expenses grew 19.3%, from $60.1 billion to $71.7 billion, and its operating
revenues increased 15.9%, from $62.7 billion to $72.7 billion. Much of this increase in the
USPS’s operating expenses was compensation and benefits expenses, which rose 19.4%, from $47.3 billion to $56.5 billion.

It is a dwindling business. The unions have (as usual) overeached on both salary and benefits to the point that the post office can’t manage thier business. To add insult to injury, congressional law dictates that they can’t close a branch for financial reasons.First Class mail (they’re primary source of revenue) has been dropping like a rock and they’re expenses have been excalting. The very model of a dying business.

I see most of the p[osts are complimenting the Post office for their cheap prices and ubiquitous service but that that is why it’s dying. What you seem to be advocating is yet another entitlement service. Why would I be surprised?

Nullo's avatar

@ETpro You wound me. That’s a tactic that I came up with on my own, tyvm. I call it, “Drag them into the woods and then run away.”
But that’s not what I was trying to do in that case. I was providing an example of how the Constitution gets challenged routinely. YOU are the one that went down the rabbit trail.

Since you went there: Religion extends to how you live, not just what you do on Sunday. A religious company will want those values represented throughout.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie Fair enough. I hope they select a recovery plan that does not rely on price hikes coupled with service cuts. I have never seen any business make much of that work. It always leads to a dwindling number of orders, and thus even more starving for revenues; which leads to further price hiles and service cuts, which leads to… you get the picture. It sets up a negative sundrome that leads ultimately to death of the organization.

@johnpowell There you go. UPS and FedEx have their strengths. I wouldn’t want to see either of them go away either unless some better company replaced them. But the USPS is a great deal for letters, cards and small package shipping.

@Jaxk That’s funny. It sure seems to me that your criticism is about your own apples are oranges claims. I don’t care to play “I know you are but what am I” school yard games with someone who has no intention of actually debating and looking for a solution; but rather hasd a desired ideological outcome in mind and will use any stretch of logic to get the answer to come out the way he wants it to.

@Nullo Sorry. I certainly had no intent to wound you or, for that matter, to end up down a rabbit hole. The birth control debate is totally off topic here, but is a fascinating study in the Constitution, and how rights guaranteed under it often come into conflict. We love to criticize Federal appellate court judges. But balancing all the competing constitutional rights is no easy task. No matter how the judges decide it, there will generally be one side screaming they are idiots and are legislating from the bench. Yet the judges usually do an amazingly good job at deciding whose rights outweighs whose. I’d love to take up the Catholic owned business and birth control issue in an appropriate thread. Ask away.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Of course not.

jca's avatar

@Jaxk: as a government worker and thus, a union worker, I can assurre you that the powers that be often use “creative accounting” to make things look worse than they are, and prove their points. As we say “figures lie and liars figure.”

Jaxk's avatar


Is it your contention that the Post Office is not losing money? Is it your contention that volume for the Post Office is not shrinking? Is it your contention that all these numbers are just made up by some right-wing think tank?

It sure looks like the Post Office is on track to lose $2.2 billion this year, even without the prepayment @ETpro is so vocal about.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Kind of off topic a little, but it drives me crazy when anti-government people point a finger at the USPS and say the government couldn’t even run it and now it’s broke. It’s fading simply because of the advent of email. It’s a logical consequence. People don’t buy stamps as much as they used to.
I hope there will always be some small place, though, where you can go to send a package or a card.

Jaxk's avatar


I would agree with your sentiment. In the late 80s MCI had a plan to put the Post Office out of business. It was called MCIMail. It was the precurser to E-Mail, it didn’t succeed. The times, they are a changin’.

The problem is that the current model doesn’t work. We want the Post Office to be a standalone business but with too much congressional involvement. They can’t lay off people when the business is slowing and they no way to control thier expenses. Back in the old days, the Post Office was typically combined with a local business (drug stores or the like) in many small communities. they still do in remote areas. There seems to be some opportunity to Franchise the business where a dedicated staff and a dedicated building are not supported by the business. But congressional rules don’t allow closing or combining post offices for financial reasons. Even a dwindling business can be quite profitable if you manage the business correctly. It won’t ever be managed correctly by congress. Too much political wrangeling.

Of course the other option is too just say to hell with the profitablity angle. Just make it a government service regardless of cost. Whether government subidies, a government business, or privitazation, is the answer, the current model has problems. There is an interesting writeup about it here

Dutchess_III's avatar

Lots of post offices are closing, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about @Jaxk.

Jaxk's avatar


According to the report “Members of Congress whose districts would be affected by a post office closure often raise a big fuss. Last year, for example, the USPS proposed consolidating 3,200 postal outlets, but following a congressional outcry, the number under consideration was reduced to a paltry 162.” So yes some closures happen but not enough to keep the system viable.

Also it says “Full post offices are more costly to operate than other means of serving customers. The average post office transaction cost 23 cents per dollar of revenue in 2009 while the average transaction at a contract postal unit cost just 13 cents.” That means if they could close a full post office and contract the operation to another store (drug store etc.) they would significantly reduce thier costs without interrupting service. The problem is we won’t let the Post Office operate as a business but we have given them the charter to do so. Something has to give.

Jeruba's avatar

I think it would be humiliating to be the only civilized nation without a postal system.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba I think we covered that with our healthcare system.

Nullo's avatar

@JLeslie We have a healthcare system, though. Granted, it’s a jalopy, but it’ll get you there.

JLeslie's avatar

@nullo True, valid point. Still, I think a lot of the world judges our system pretty harshly. I recently saw on another Q someone write that people outside of the US find it horrid that our health system is so based on profit.

Nullo's avatar

@JLeslie Worrying about what other people think of you is a waste of time. Someone will always disapprove.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Nullo Right…after a person’s checking account is garnished 75% of their check every payday because of an ER bill that they couldn’t pay, and then they file for bankruptcy because they can’t live without their paycheck. And that will sure as hell make you think twice about ever going to ER again, no matter how bad something is. Yeah. Sure. Gets us there.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: I don’t think that a pay check can be garnished more than 10% at a time. Correct me if I’m wrong. I have a friend who did collections for a hospital and that’s what she had told me, unless the law changed recently?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t know either @jca. Perhaps each creditor can only take 10% but if you have 3 or 4 different accounts it’s just bad. She was making monthly payments then she lost her job. The instant she tried to open a checking account they took it ALL.

The state took her state refund, 100% of it, for a medical bill. All I can tell her is, well, you’re that much closer to getting it paid off. But it was DEVASTATING to her. She counted on the money. She really NEEDED it. She’s a college student who is still waiting on her financial aid to come in. I guess the schools started delaying the aid for over month to make sure people were really going to stay in school, which isn’t a bad plan. But if you’re broke it can really hurt.
Plus, between H&R Block and the IRS, the federal return that she was supposed to get today is lost in limbo. She’s in pretty dire straits.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: No, I believe it’s 10% total, one creditor allowed at a time. Remember, creditors have to go through a judge, so it’s not like they just garnish at will.

Nullo's avatar

@Dutchess_III You get the medical treatment, don’t you? That’s the destination. It’s not a smooth ride, but I’ve seen nicer cars that drop you off a block away.
The post to which I was replying suggested that we had no car whatsoever.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Nullo You lost me….yes, my daughter got treatment, at outrageous, unreasonable and unfair prices and it’s destroying her financially. Welcome to the greatest country in the world.

@jca I don’t know. What do they base that 10% on? The balance in the account at that time? And how often can they garnish? It seems like her account was just getting ripped. She wouldn’t have had a problem with 10%. I’ll talk to her again.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: 10% of your paycheck. So if you make $500, they can’t take more than $50.

Nullo's avatar

@Dutchess_III That’s because you’re not really reading my posts.

You’re welcome to emigrate to Iran, if you’d like. I’m told it’s very pretty.

poofandmook's avatar

What does healthcare have to do with the postal system? Just wondering.

ETpro's avatar

@poofandmook The answer certainly should be nothing. In any other developed nation on Earth, that would be the answer. But for some reason we chose to have a private insurer base and fund it primarily through people’s employers. So if someone works for the Postal System, health care comes to them through the USPS, and does come into the OP.

Ron_C's avatar

The republicans are purposely killing the post office and proving that they care only for their corporate sponsors and nothing for the laws or the citizens. The post office is the only agency mandated by the constitution. Privatizing it is like privatizing prisons and federal parks, it is illegal, unconstitutional, and morally reprehensible.

The post office makes a profit except for the poison pill supplied by a republican congress. I vote to leave the Post office alone, allow it to work out pensions like anyother business, and pass a law to make privatizing it illegal.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C No need for a law. The Constitution trumps laws. Unfortunately, with a Supreme Court packed with 5 Con-Men, what the constitution says is irrelevant, and so are laws. Only right-wing ideology matters.

Ron_C's avatar

@ETpro “5 Con-Men, what the constitution says is irrelevant,” This is another case where the neo-cons blame the democrats for things that the right wing are doing.

The republican motto has been changed to “Lie early and Lie often”.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C And whatever their weakness or transgression is, accuse their opposition of it. Romney is even claiming that President Obama is an elitist that doesn’t understand the average American, and a flip flopper.

Ron_C's avatar

I’ve read some of the libetarian complaints about “why keept the post office to support rural farmers, after all, they chose where they life” That is scary scary stuff. I guess that 300 million people don’t need government. All services including roads, and police will be avaialble for people to pay if they want them. Too bad I’m an atheist, otherwise I could curse people that think like that to the deepest nastiest part of hell they deserve.

I believe that not only should the post office be freed from its undue pension payments, the Post Office should revert back to government ownership and administration.

Just imagine how much it would cost to mail a letter if we use UPS or FedEx. I like and use their service but you can’t beat the post office for good service and reasonable prices.

I think I paid $12 for the last letter sent by FedEx.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C Another part of the Republican “Jobs, jobs, jobs” platform. Aside from pushing 1,100 bills to limit women’s access to health care, they favored killing GM and Chrysler, killing the post office with its 574,000 workers, and through the Ryan budget, laying off several million government employees. The slogan was “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” but they left off whether they wanted more or less of them. Their actions tell the story. It actually meant “Kill jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Ron_C's avatar

@ETpro The thing is, Ryan is a nice looking young guy that “sounds” reasonable. That is until you think about what he says, then you realize that his budget rewards the rich, punishes the middle class, and ignores the poor. The problem with the right is that they are not thinking about what they say. They’re give a bunch of talking points, sometime daily, and follow them. They have taken careless talk and action to a new level. Never had so many talked so much and said so little.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C Sad but true. Some aren’t thinking, and some are—but only about themselves and their rich donors.

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