USPS: Bankrupt or the Epitome of Nationalized Efficiency?

One of the more interesting fairy tales that I’ve heard over the past several months is that “the US Postal Service is in default, they’re bleeding money.”  The simple fact is that the USPS is completely self-sufficient (and even profitable) and these stories are an extension of a law designed to make the post office appear insolvent.  This bill was crafted not by legislators, but by private postal competitors.

Many people have heard of ALEC in passing but really have no idea what this group is or what it does.  Known officially as the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC is a group of corporations that write legislation – yes, corporations that make laws – and is responsible for much of what you see coming out of Washington, D.C. these days.  Almost every piece of legislation is crafted with these wealthy folks in mind, but many are drafted, ratified, and presented directly by the group itself.

UPS and FedEx are members of ALEC.  They donate millions in lobbying to ensure that their interests are protected, and their servants in Congress answer those calls.  Some of the servants are former members of the group itself that have gone through the revolving door to be stooges for the organization.  One such man, ALEC alumnus Rep. John McHugh began working on behalf of UPS and FedEx in 1996 with a goal of tearing down the United States Postal Service.

How would one go about such a task as putting a successful, useful and efficient federal operation out of business?  Many folks use this inexpensive, reliable, ubiquitous and expedient service regularly, spending less than two quarters to shoot a handwritten letter or birthday card or check all the way across the country in a mere few days.  What method would be chosen by these thugs to sway the public opinion of the post office?

ALEC had a great idea, of course.  That idea was to tap into the myth that all government is bad, nationalization is socialism, the US federal government is fiscally irresponsible, and the free market is the answer to all of the “problems” that didn’t really exist.  Ten years and millions in lobbying (bribery) dollars later, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act was passed.

This bill forced, as its primary focus, the USPS to prefund all retirement costs for all postal workers for the next 75 YEARS by 2016, at a rate of ~$5,600,000,000 a year.  Yes, each year, the USPS was required to fund the next 7.5 years of pension.  Typically, of course, you’d expect an organization to fund a year’s worth of retirement every year, but then… that’s not a good way to make a national institution falsely appear to be bankrupt.  No private company, of course, is required to prefund 75 years’ worth of retiring employees, because frankly, it’s fiscally retarded and there was only one possible outcome.

Now, six years into this screwjob, the USPS is “in default.”

They’re six years in and they’ve funded the next 40 years of retirement ahead of schedule, but they’re “in default.”

Perhaps they could take some of that $35,000,000,000 the Republicans and their “friends” at FedEx and UPS have forced them to bank and reallocate it back to their operations, thus demonstrating how profitable they really are, but their hands are tied and nobody is coming to their rescue, because no politician wants to stand up and be the one caught “defending socialism and trying to stifle the free market.”  This illusion of competition and inefficiency in government operations demonstrates just how misled American voters are, because standing up for USPS could very well mean political suicide despite the truth, the  unavoidable fact that the USPS is the best solution for parcel shipment and that private firms are not needed in this field.

Government organizations aren’t designed to be profitable.  They’re designed to provide a service.  That said, how could we tear down an institution that is not only providing that service exceptionally well, but also without costing the taxpayers a dime?  How do we eliminate a nationalized service that is self-sufficient and completely satisfies the needs of the populace and employs tens of thousands of hard-working Americans while costing the population nothing more than the cost of the postage they need to send their packages?

Have you priced FedEx or UPS lately?  Perhaps if the USPS wasn’t subject to unfairly targeted, privately-created regulations put forth by a Congressman on the corporate payroll, and perhaps if they charged the ridiculous rates of their private counterparts, they could afford some lobbyists of their own to battle this ridiculous attack.

At this point, though, their only defense is the truth, and that defense is only effective if it’s heard.  When you hear someone talking about the waste that is our USPS, that bankrupt, obsolete and socialist institution, combat their talking points with plain, simple truth, because once the post office falls, the private profiteers will be lined up to figure out the next basic public service they can exploit and replace.

And use the USPS.  Your grandma prefers a handwritten letter to an e-mail anyway.

ADDITIONAL INFO:  If you’d like to learn lots (and I mean lots) more about this, visit