Deficit-ridden Postal Service needs reform

Deficit-ridden Postal Service needs reform

September 21st, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

When our Constitution was being written in "horse and buggy days," our Founding Fathers provided for a national postal service.

Well, mail demands expanded as population and commerce grew.

But technology has a way of rewriting the rules, and email correspondence has now vastly reduced traditional mail. About 43 billion fewer pieces of traditional mail will be sent this year than were sent four years ago!

As a result, there sometimes is not enough work to be done by some of the modern Postal Service's hundreds of thousands of employees.

We want good mail service, and we want it promptly and at reasonable cost. But with volume plunging, the Postal Service is facing multibillion-dollar deficits. And its union work rules deny it the nimbleness to adjust its workforce to meet actual demand for its services.

So President Barack Obama has proposed that Congress reduce postal deficits by letting the Postal Service cut delivery from six days a week to five -- and raise postal rates. He also would provide a $6.9 billion "refund" to the Postal Service from its pension fund, and he wants to restructure the pension plan.

He says that unless the government acts quickly, the Postal Service will be broke by the end of the month, having used up its cash reserves and hit its $15 billion borrowing limit. It would be unable to make a $5.5 billion payment on its retiree health program, too. The postmaster general, meanwhile, proposes closing hundreds of post offices nationwide.

Many in Congress and others object, so the president's proposal may go nowhere. But it should be clear to everyone that the Postal Service needs major reform to reflect true market demand.