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There is an idea that has been posited, with which I a agree, that natural monopolies are best served by the government. Government tends to poorly serve in other areas of business such as building cars or manufacturing clothing. There was a time when the only means to convey messages and packages was via letter carrier on horseback. In that time, the Post Office Department was created by Benjamin Franklin under the Second Continental Congress. The Post Office Department later became known as the United States Postal Service. The postal service served the US well and exclusively for over 100 years. Even when the United Parcel Service and other private ventures came onto the scene, they could not serve rural areas, and they continue to, as a private enterprise, choose not to serve certain areas.

That said, as a liberal, I am appalled at the sacred cow the USPS has become to liberals. Last year, the USPS took a loss of $5B on $66B in revenue. That might sound shocking if it weren't for the fact that the tax-payer subsidized USPS has had 19 consecutive quarters of losses. This despite almost half of their revenues coming from direct mail marketing. That's right. The single largest revenue block for the USPS is junk mail. They deliver 84 billion pieces of it to US taxpayers, costing them an additional $1B in disposal costs. My point is this. The USPS is no longer serving a natural monopoly. There are other delivery services on the scene. They have competition. The USPS no longer has a right to exist.

I say all of this realizing that the USPS is the second largest employer in the United States after Walmart. While it is not in the best interest of the United States for so many people to be employed by a single employer, the USPS may be 'too big to fail'. I acknowledge that the USPS has been up against a radical shift in the way people communicate goods and information in a digital age. I will also acknowledge that congress passed a law preventing the USPS from raising postal rates without congressional approval, a requirement that none of the USPS' competitors in the private sector have to abide. The congress also passed a law requiring the USPS to pre-fund all employee pensions for 75 years. That's right, at a time when the private sector is cutting pensions, the congress chained an anchor around the neck of the USPS to provide pensions for employees that haven't even been born yet. There has been a concerted effort by conservative ideologues to sabotage the USPS. I'm a fire-breathing liberal. I believe natural monopolies should be served by government. I support federalizing all the power companies, water companies, and cable companies. But mail delivery isn't a natural monopoly any longer, and the USPS is not going to be saved by adding banking or any other service. The USPS needs to get a lot better at providing the services that it does, and the congress needs to remove the hamstrings on their ability to compete in an open marketplace.


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