The United States Postal Service is telling the American people that their delivery services are going to get slower.1 The reason? To save money. But don’t get too excited, you won’t be getting a refund in your tax dollars for the decreased quality of service. You only get the courtesy of being warned. Oh, and in fact, they’ll be raising their rates, too.2
The USPS first let us know back in October of last year that deliveries of first-class mail nationwide were going to be “slowing.”3 Well, now that reduction of speed is coming to packages, too.
The criteria for a late first-class package, as defined by the USPS, is 3 days. But come May 1st, the new “standard of excellence” at the USPS will be 5 days.
This only applies to first-class packages, which mainly include small and lightweight stuff, like prescription drug orders. Nothing of importance, you see.
There seems to be a push within the USPS to pull back on its use of airplanes. The ol’ rubber-hit-the-road mode of transportation will be more heavily relied upon.
Save the Post Office?
I found that there is such a thing as the “Save the Post Office Coalition,”4 if you can believe it. It is made up of ~300 political organizations, many of which are unions (surprise). They are pushing the US government to give more crutches to an already propped up USPS, even calling for a postal czar:
“We are calling on the President to fill the postal board of governors with appointees committed to protecting and expanding the postal service, make a speech laying out a vision for the future of the post office as a community hub for services, and name a postal ‘czar’ to lead on that vision. We are calling on Congress to remove artificial barriers to USPS’s success, and enable the postal service to bring in new revenue streams like postal banking.”
“Remove artificial barriers to USPS’s success,” they say. I have no clue what that means.
And I came across a private site dedicated to the same mission — SaveThePostOffice.com. The site is not affiliated with the USPS. It is simply run by a private individual that “just likes his local post office and doesn’t want to see post offices closed.” The guy provides information and commentary on post office closings, suspensions, history, preservation, finances, court cases, you name it.
Now it’s probably obvious that I don’t relate to this sense of admiration of the USPS. I’m not a glutton for failure. Don’t get me wrong, if people like the USPS and their history of “stellar” performance, who am I to judge? The problem is, I am still being forced to subsidize this service for which I would much rather pay another company that at least tells me they’re striving for quality service. Call me crazy. In my view, the USPS belongs in a museum as a study of historical failure.
Monopoly on Certified Mail
So why does the USPS still exist even though it has been nothing short of a financial blunder from its inception? How does a literal monopoly5 on delivery of letters and access to mailboxes still result in a failure to make money? The USPS’ financial results for the first quarter of its fiscal year 2022 show a loss of approximately $1.3 billion6. That’s billion with a “b.”
Why not end the monopoly? Why not let UPS, DHL, FedEx, Amazon, or even Joe Blow from down the street get in on the letter-delivery business? Hell, the major package services are already setup to deliver. Just let them compete in letter mail. Perhaps we wouldn’t have our mailboxes stuffed full of junk mail every single day.
Lysander Spooner and The American Letter Mail Company
Now some of you still hold on to the following thought: “Well, without the USPS, who will deliver the mail to the underserved communities at an affordable price?”
Well, I suggest you familiarize yourselves with Lysander Spooner and his American Letter Mail Company. In 1844, Spooner went to battle with the monopolized U.S. Post Office. At the time, postal rates were very high. Spooner’s American Letter Mail Company set out to compete at a fraction of the cost.
Well governments hate competition, you see. Congress went on to threaten railroads, warning them that they could not transport mail from the American Letter Mail Company if they wanted to continue carrying U.S. Postal Service mail. Agents of the American Letter Mail Company were even threatened with arrests if caught with mail “contraband” on the trains. We are the government, we have a monopoly, and we shall not be challenged, you see.
But Spooner’s force of the market exposed the government’s waste and inefficiency. Spooner ended up dramatically cutting the cost of mail service without subsidization. If Spooner could do it, well why couldn’t a government agency? Spooner’s demonstration ultimately led to the government being pressured into lowering their rates to three cents (compare that to their previous rates as high as twenty-five cents). Spooner became known as the father of the three-cent stamp.