Postal service

OTHER VOICES: The Postal Service is held to unreasonable standards | Opinion


For the past 246 years, there has been no better deal than the United States Postal Service, which for a few coins could guarantee delivery of a letter to any address in the continental United States. United in a few days.

It was something most of us took for granted – and one that many found antiquated in the days of email, online bill payment and next day delivery services.

And yet, there are still so many – especially those living in rural America who don’t have broadband or the means – who depend on the US Postal Service to stay alive.

Their bills for housing, heating and security arrive and are paid by post. Their medical prescriptions are delivered with the daily mail. And the same goes for their government checks.

The postal service is absolutely essential. It is as necessary today as it was when it was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1775.

And yet there are attempts to nullify it, to eliminate it by saying that it no longer works effectively enough to be relevant in modern America.

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Unfortunately, he is held to an unreasonable standard. It is expected to operate with clockwork efficiency without wasting money and to be financially self-sufficient. But Congress sets rules by which it must operate, and some of them increase spending. One of these rules provides for the prepayment of retiree health benefits over a 50-year schedule.

These requirements are a huge burden, along with increased competition from privatized companies and fewer people opting to use “postal mail,” a moniker that aptly describes Americans’ expectation of instant results.

Most government agencies are not expected to operate in the dark. The services they provide and the lives they improve are worth it.

Postmaster Louis DeJoy recently announced service delays, which began Oct. 1 in an effort to cut the budget.

The postmaster general said the USPS could no longer meet its previous windows, pushing back the maximum number of days for delivery of mail sent to the continental United States from three to five days.

In August, meanwhile, it raised rates for the first time in line with new authorization it received last year, raising prices well above the standard inflationary amount. The cost of first-class mail jumped 6.8%, while parcel services rose 8.8%. USPS has also implemented additional surcharges for the holiday season.

DeJoy predicted the Postal Service would generate between $35 billion and $52 billion over the next decade by raising prices, but its overhead will still be an issue.

The solutions won’t be simple, but it’s imperative that the Postal Service be largely sidelined — and Congress cooperate — as it tries to balance its essential service to the nation against its cost.