I must beg to differ with my paper’s recent editorial supporting the U.S. Postal Service.
Like AT&T and phones back in the 1980’s, we should break up the USPS and privatize it by ending its monopoly on first-class (regular) mail. Germany did it and the US had the private Pony Express starting in the 1860’s and private airmail starting in 1925, so it’s common.
Let Fed Ex, UPS and DHL take over the USPS, or at least be allowed to compete with it in first class mail.
At what point does the USPS lose its moral right to the monopoly that the Private Express Statutes of 1845 granted it?
Per this law, only the USPS can delivery first class mail (like letters & bills), although private companies can compete with it in other areas like special or speedy delivery. Note that it is a federal crime to deliver mail in competition with the behemoth USPS.
The USPS loses to private companies in every area except routine mail where it has its protected monopoly.
The USPS is a huge dinosaur that has been around since 1775. If Fed Ex had been running our mail system since the invention of email, I’d wager nearly all mail would be via email by now and we wouldn’t be using stamps, but meters and computers.
The private sector is always better at innovating.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike postal workers, not at all. I’m just pointing out the monopolistic nature of the postal service. Postal unions will oppose the breakup of their monopoly, but that is to be expected.
Granted, the USPS – unlike a private business – has the duty of “universal” mail, that is, getting mail to people in rural and hard to reach areas. But with email, etc., this 19th century milestone of “universal mail service” is outdated. Today’s Fed Ex can go anywhere, anyway, and they can track each piece of mail.
How would privatization work? Well, the quickest way is just to legalize competition and let the USPS sink or swim. Or sell off the USPS in the open market. Or it could be broken up into regional companies like the “baby bells” of the 1980’s. Or let the employees take it over with their pensions guaranteed by the government.
But either way, this Tyrannosaurus Rex of a monopoly needs to be ended so that market forces can work their magic on first class mail.
Kirkland resident Jeff E. Jared is an attorney and political writer who writes from a libertarian and law and economics perspective.