Tags: USPS | Postage | Rates | Donahoe

'Snail Mail' Is Endangered Species

Image: 'Snail Mail' Is Endangered Species Harry Garrett loads mail onto a conveyor at the United States Postal Service (USPS) Chicago Logistics and Distribution Center in Elk Grove Village, Ill. (Getty Images)

Friday, 20 Sep 2013 04:26 PM

By Bradley Blakeman

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The United States Postal Service a.k.a “Snail Mail” needs to go the way of the horse and buggy.

Just this past week U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said that the USPS is in “the midst of a financial disaster” and is seeking an emergency increase in postage rates to keep it in business. He went on to tell the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee “The Postal Service as it exists today is financially unsustainable.”

Currently the post office is anticipating losses of $6 billion this year. Last year the USPS lost $16 billion. The postmaster again comes hat in hand for a bailout for a failed and antiquated business model. If you recall just this past January the USPS raised rates when the cost of a first-class stamp went up a penny to 46 cents.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the USPS already has defaulted on $11 billion in retiree health benefits and it looks like it will default on another $5.6 billion at the end of this month.

Why do we keep throwing good money after bad? Why have we not adapted the USPS to advances in technology and the marketplace?

The current motto of the postal service should be:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds — provided the American people pay whatever it costs.”

With the advent and pervasiveness of email and with the private sector’s healthy competition among overnight mail and package service companies it is clear that the USPS as it exists today is the modern dinosaur of quasi-government services.

Although the USPS in an independent agency, it is subject to congressional control and oversight.

And, although the taxpayer does not fund the day-to-day operations of the USPS they are ultimately the underwriter of its massive debt obligations. This is truly another example of “too big to fail.” The taxpayer is on the hook.

The day of reckoning has not arrived, but it is just around the corner.

Now is the time to wind down the USPS and let the marketplace drive mail delivery in a new age of virtual mail. I don’t know about you, but all I get from USPS delivered mail is unwanted advertisements.

For people without access to computers, the USPS could provide “Mail Centers” that are computer equipped where people could get traditional mail and/or emails. These centers would allow people access to computers and printers for a small fee.

With regard to package delivery, there exists today a healthy private sector network of overnight and package delivery companies that provides competition and reasonable fees that renders the USPS even less relevant — or necessary in this space.

We as a nation should have had a plan to reinvent and/or wind down the USPS years ago.

This is yet another stark example of the government not being proactive and responsible to the people. We respond to crises but do not seek to avoid them in the first place.

The USPS today is the equivalent of driving a horse and buggy as opposed to a hybrid car. The unions would say that at least the horse and buggy emits no harmful emissions, so what’s the big deal?

We need a bi-partisan congressional committee to formulate a plan to wind down, revamp and modernize the USPS to meet the realities, needs, wants, technology, and economy of 2014 not 1914.

Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.

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