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Even parts of government that look like a business never get run
with the efficiency of a business. Just look at the post
They buy commercials and tout their services the way private
businesses do. They offer a service that customers want.
But a real business can’t get away with losing billions every
year. (I guess in the era of bailouts, I should say
shouldn’t ;get away with it.) The post office lost $16
billion last year, despite having all sorts of advantages that most
private businesses don’t have.
They have a near monopoly on first-class mail delivery. You want
to deliver something to someone? You better not put it in their
mailbox — that’s illegal. The U.S. Postal Service doesn’t pay
sales tax or property tax. They don’t even pay parking tickets.
With advantages like that, how do they lose money?
They are part of the government, under the thumb of Congress,
and that invites calcified, inefficient behavior.
“We are expected to operate like a business, but Congress has
not allowed us the flexibility to operate like a business,” said
Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Mickey D. Barnett on my
TV show. It’s all “part of being a quasi-governmental entity.
That’s how the cookie crumbles.” Barnett added that the post office
has “union contracts that have no layoff provisions.”
Reality is at odds with the proud claim on the post office’s
website that “Since Ben Franklin … the Postal Service has grown
and changed with America.” But it’s barely changed. You don’t tend
to see change in “quasi-governmental entities.” You see
This year the post office tried to limit Saturday delivery to
save money. But Congress forbade the change. The politicians’
constituents like getting their mail six days a week.
“They don’t want a cut in Saturday delivery,” Rep. Alan Grayson,
D-Fla., told me.
“The USPS does need reform,” Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., told the
Kansas City Star. “However, reducing core services is not a
long-term plan. I worry that reducing services will lead to other
reductions like closing rural post offices.”
But the post office should do both. The government maintains
hundreds of tiny local post offices, each of which brings in less
than $700 a month. Running those offices costs much more than that.
Some are just one mile away from other post offices.
People like “universal service,” which has been taken to mean
that every American must get mail service, no matter how deep in
the boondocks they live. The post office even hauls mail by mule to
the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
“The post office provides something that’s extremely valuable
and has to be maintained, and that’s universal service,” Grayson
told me. “There are countries a lot poorer than the United States,
including the Congo … that try to provide universal mail service
to everybody. … People don’t want post offices closed!”
On the floor of Congress, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., proclaimed
that universal service is required, saying, “It’s in the
But it’s not. The Constitution says, “Congress
shall ;have the Power ;to … establish Post
Offices.” But it doesn’t have ;to use that power.
Cato Institute budget analyst Tad DeHaven argues, “People living
in rural America aren’t living there by force. … Go back to
history. Private carriers picked up the mail from the post office
and took it the last mile, or people came to the post office and
picked it up.”
And private alternatives are much better today. We have e-mail.
UPS delivers 300 packages a minute and makes
a ;profit. Federal Express, UPS and others thrive by
finding new ways to cut costs. They don’t do it because they were
born nicer people. They do it because of the pressure of
competition. They make money — while the post office loses $16
Why not just privatize it? No more special government
protections, no limit on competitors offering similar services.
Then mail service would be even better than before. The market
“The Colbert Report,” returning from day off on Monday night, addressing the Boston Marathon bombing a day later with one of the most positive and funny opening monologues on late night television this week. “Whoever did this did not know about the people of Boston,” says host Stephen Colbert. He continued: “A people so tough, they had to buckle their goddamn hats on. It is the cradle of the American revolution. A city that withstood an 86-year losing streak. A city that made it through the Big Dig, a construction project that backed up traffic for 16 years (I mean, there are commuters just getting home now).”Calling the person(s) who perpetrated the bombings “cowards,” Colbert explains that Boston will not be terrorized: “They attacked the Boston Marathon. An event celebrating people who run 26 miles on their day off until their nipples are raw for fun.”Continue Reading… …
Cypriots are learning the hard way. Eurozone straightjacket rules entrap them. One size fits all doesn’t work. Losing control of monetary and fiscal policy assures disaster. It’s just a matter of time. It’s hitting Cypriots full-force. …
INDIANAPOLIS — Brook Lopez scored 25 points and Brooklyn opened the overtime session on a 9-3 run to pull away from Indiana 89-84 on Monday night.
The Nets (30-22) ended a five-game losing streak at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and won for just the second time in six games overall despite playing without injured guard Deron Williams. Joe Johnson added 17 points, and Reggie Evans had eight points and 22 rebounds.
NEW YORK — Carl Hagelin had two goals and an assist, and Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves in the New York Rangers’ 5-1 victory over Tampa Bay that extended the Lightning’s losing streak to four games Sunday night.
Lundqvist was sharp throughout and was helped by some early offense. Hagelin scored his first goal just 31 seconds in and then made it 3-0 in the second period. Ryan Callahan added a breakaway goal with 4:47 left in the first, and Arron Asham and Rick Nash scored in the third for the Rangers (6-5), who have won four of six.
NORMAN, Okla. — Romero Osby scored 17 points, Steven Pledger added 15 and Oklahoma held off No. 5 Kansas 72-66 on Saturday to give the Jayhawks their first three-game losing streak in eight years.
The Sooners (15-7, 6-4 Big 12) snapped a 10-game losing streak in the series and took down a top 5 opponent for the first time since beating No. 4 Texas on Jan. 28, 2006.