The federal government has hundreds of agencies. Here is a complete list.
Of all these hundreds of agencies, just one is required to function like a business and required to make a profit in order to survive. Guess which one.
Right. The United States Postal Service (USPS).
Why not the postal service?
Is the USPS less important than other agencies? The postal service is one of the few agencies mentioned in the Constitution, which states that Congress has “the power to establish post offices and post roads.”
Among the other agencies indicated in the Constitution are The Senate and the House, the President, the Internal Revenue Service, Customs and Border Protection (“the power to lay and collect taxes and tariffs), the military agencies (“the power to raise and support military forces”).
None of them pay their own way.
They are too important to the nation to be required to labor under vagaries of a for-profit system.
Consider, for instance, the fallout from a situation in which the military, unable to raise money to pay its soldiers, had to cut back on its defense of America.
Or what if food inspections had to stop because the Food Safety and Inspection Service was “losing” money.
So, it has been with wonderment that over the years I’ve seen articles like this:
Postal Service loses $2.2 billion in 3 months
By Matthew Daly Associated Press, August 7, 2020
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service says it lost $2.2 billion in the three months that ended in June as the beleaguered agency — hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic — piles up financial losses that officials warn could top $20 billion over two years.
While package deliveries to homebound Americans were up more than 50%, that was offset by continued declines in first-class and business mail, even as costs increased significantly to pay for personal protective equipment and replace workers who got sick or chose to stay home in fear of the virus.
Without an intervention from Congress, the agency faces an impending cash flow crisis.
The Postal Service is seeking an infusion of at least $10 billion to cover operating losses as well as regulatory changes that would undo a congressional requirement that the agency pre-fund billions of dollars in retiree health benefits.
The postal service “lost” $2.2 billion. How much, I wonder, did the military “lose”? How much did the Supreme Court “lose”? What about the Department of Veterans Affairs; how much did it “lose”? Did the National Institute of Corrections “lose” money?
The postal service charges the public for each letter or package. How much did Congress charge the public for each vote? Is the President paid by the veto or approval?
How much have you paid the Department of Agriculture for inspecting that can of corn you purchased?
The last time I drove down to Florida, I took U.S. Highways I65 and I75, and I didn’t pay the government a penny in tolls. Want a 45-minute tour of the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory? It’s free.
You get the point. The federal government doesn’t need to charge for anything. It has unlimited money, so why is the postal service struggling financially? There are no good reasons. None.
What will a Congress that is dominated by a postal-hating President do about the postal service? Cut service further? Perhaps one mail delivery per week, or per month? Eliminate mail altogether?
Or will Congress do what the Republicans always want to do: Privatize the postal service so that a few billionaire contributors can take over and make even more billions by raising stamp prices higher and higher?
And as for Republican President Bush’s prefunding of benefits, that either is ignorance or maliciousness. The U.S. government never needs to prefund anything. It has unlimited power to pay any invoice instantly.
Then, there is yet another in a long line of Trump incompetents, Louis DeJoy. He is a businessman whose primary qualification is that he donated millions to Trump and the GOP. So, of course, he was named Postmaster General.
He thinks the postal service should be run like a business, which on the surface may sound like a good idea, except for a few reality checks:
- The primary mission of any business is to provide profits to its owners via salaries, dividends, and/or share-price growth. The primary mission of a government agency is to provide service to the voters and residents of its defined territory.
- A business is run by its officers and directors, who have the power to pursue it’s primary mission. The post office is run by its officers who take direction from Congress and the President. The primary mission of the postal service often conflicts with the primary missions of Congress and the President, whose objectives are political, not service or business.
- Businesses negotiate with unions to make mutually tolerable agreements. The negotiating power of the postal service has been usurped by Congress and the President for political, not business, reasons, which has left the postal service with unfavorable union rules. (See: Should there be workers’ unions in government?“)
Running any federal agency is diametrically opposite from running a business, and seldom do even honest, successful businessmen make good agency heads.
(This fundamental truth doesn’t begin to account for dishonest, unsuccessful, multi-bankrupt, con artists, whose sole interest is to grab as much for themselves and their families as they can.)
In summary, the postal service’s problems are of Congress’s making, and only Congress can solve them.
The agency should function financially like every other federal agency, with Congress providing sufficient appropriations for efficient service to the public.
The goal should be the highest quality service, not profitability.
Even the best-intentioned, most qualified Postmaster General could not make the postal service live up to its that service requirement, and with Louis DeJoy, we are miles away from that person.
The pearl-clutching concerns about the postal service “losing money” is a con job by the rich to pave the way for privatizing the service.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
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THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO IMPROVE AND PROTECT THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE.
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Ten Steps To Prosperity:
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