The United States Postal Service (USPS) predates the U.S. Constitution, owing its origin to the Second Continental Congress, which appointed Benjamin Franklin to be a salaried Postmaster on July 26, 1775. His mission was to establish a postal service from Falmouth [Massachusetts] to Savannah [Georgia]. A postal service was understood to be an essential function for a national means of communicating among the new, united colonies and embedded subsequently in the U.S. Constitution [Art. I, Sec. 8].
For over 230 years until 2006, the USPS enjoyed a quiet and respected reputation as an organization fulfilling its mission. In that year, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (LOL). Among other things, the legislation required the USPS to pre-fund in full its retirement and health benefits for employees, ensuring that the agency would suffer annual deficits. The act was introduced by Tom Davis (R-VA). Over the last few decades, the agency had begun to attract critics among libertarians who perceived its commerce as contrary to the free market and small government that conservatives seek, to shrink the entity—mostly because of its size and employment of an army of unionized personnel.
Commentators and critics observed that the requirement to pre-fund in full and into the future retirement benefits was an obligation unknown in business practice, and unique to the USPS.
Then, the USPS met Amazon and all hell broke loose. Amazon’s CEO is Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, which has relentlessly covered the antics of the current administration. In a tweet on 04/03/18, the President stated:
I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy. Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne [sic] by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of Dollars. P.O. leaders don’t have a clue (or do they?)!
Further marshaling the authority of the Oval Office, on 04/13/18, the President issued an Executive Order to create a task force to study USPS operations citing, among other points:
…legal mandates that compel the USPS to incur substantial and inflexible costs, have resulted in a structural deficit [emphasis added].
And so, the accountability and enhancement in the 2006 legislation has a self-fulfilling prophecy. The USPS has registered its own view on its performance and operations on its website. Here are the twelve items, in reverse order:
Social Responsibility. From facilitating the nation’s largest one-day food drive to addressing dog bites, educating customers on consumer protection and delivering holiday cheer to those in need, the Postal Service supports communities.
Veterans. The Postal Service employs more than 105,000 military veterans. USPS also has issued more than 140 stamps honoring the nation’s military history.
All Heart. The Postal Service is the core of the $1.4 trillion U.S. mailing industry that employs more than 7.5 million people.
Heroes. Postal employees regularly go beyond the call of duty to protect the lives of customers they serve, including older and disabled customers through the Carrier Alert Program. In fiscal year 2017, the Postal Service recognized 318 heroic employees.
Retail Giant. The Postal Service has the nation’s largest retail network—bigger than McDonald’s, Starbucks and Walmart combined, domestically.
Global Business. The Postal Service processes and delivers 47 percent of the world’s mail and is constantly innovating to make customer experiences better.
Vehicles. The Postal Service has more than 230,000 vehicles, one of the larges civilian fleets in the world. Next-generation vehicles will have improved ergonomics, safety features, fuel efficiency and design flexibility.
Competition and Collaboration. The Postal Service both competes and collaborates with the private sector. UPS and FedEx pay the Postal Service to deliver hundreds of millions of their ground packages, and USPS pays UPS and FedEx for air transportation.
Affordability. For 50 cents, anyone can send a letter, regardless of geographic location, to anywhere in the United States.
Dependable. The Postal Service is the only organization in the country that has the resources, network infrastructure and logistical capability to regularly deliver to every residential and business address in the nation.
Security. U.S. Mail is protected by more than 200 federal laws enforced by the Postal Inspection Service, one of the nation’s oldest law enforcement agencies.
And most importantly…
Zero tax dollars used. The Postal Service receives NO tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.
Readers can make up their own minds.