Post office should deliver balanced budget

By Observer editorial July 19, 2010 05:25 pm
Higher stamp prices. A possible end to Saturday delivery. Higher rates for magazines. All may be coming down the line as the U.S. Postal Service looks to deal with a spiraling budget crisis. The Postal Service is hemorrhaging money. It lost $2.8 billion in its last fiscal year, and could lose $5 billion this fiscal year (ending Sept. 1).
The plan that impacts the most people is raising stamp prices. The cost of a first class stamp is expected to jump to 46 cents (from 44 cents) as of Jan. 1. Yes, the public, mired in recession, will whine about the increase. But rates for groceries and gas go up year by year mostly without the bellyaching.

The financial crisis raises several questions. First, how many family wage jobs would be lost if Saturday mail service is cut? In a recession we need all the family wage jobs we can get, but we also need our government to get its accounts in balance.

Why does the post office need to advertise so heavily to compete with UPS and FedEx? We all know where our post office is. We all have to go there and do business from time to time.

Why does the post office need to sponsor pro bicycle racing teams, or the Summer Olympics? The public will shop there anyway. Not every bill can be paid online, and Christmas packages and others still need to be sent, and we don’t need barrages of TV ads to convince us to use the postal service.

How could the postal service balance its budget? Maybe a first step would be to make junk mail pay first class rates. Marketing companies might object, but so what!

Eliminating delivery on a day with light mail volume such as Saturday, could save $2 billion a year. The bottom line necessitates it. The public will adjust.

It’s time the government tightens its belt, not use retirement or health care costs as an excuse, and get beyond the borrow and spend practices of the last few decades. It’s time federal agencies like the post office delivered a balanced budget.