Sunday, May 29, 2011

Post Office's Last Gasps...

The U.S. Post Office's travails were entirely predictable – in fact, they were predicted, by a great many people including me.  The reasons are many, and most are easy enough to understand.  The simple fact that the Post Office has a half million union workers is almost enough to understand the entire problem.  If you're interested in the details, here's a great primer.  It focuses on the looming financial crisis, but along the way gives a very accessible description of the myriad ways in which the Post Office is in trouble.

The linked article talks mostly about various “fixes” for the Post Office.  The most important reform, however, isn't discussed: removing the U.S. Post Office's government-granted monopoly on first class mail delivery.  A dose of competition would result in great delivery of services that people were actually willing to pay for – and an end to the subsidization of the things people don't want (such as junk mail).

The challenge is that a half-million member union is a potent political force.  Their ability to make political donations means they can (effectively) buy off the politicians who might consider removing their monopoly.  So the reform I advocate isn't particularly likely to be implemented.  But I can dream, can't I?

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