It’s a Service, Not a Business

I’ve been hearing people talk about the Post Office “losing money” for over three decades now. People, it seems, just love to bitch about the Post Office. People also love to miss the finer details, so I’ll fill you in a little bit.

The Post Office is a service, not a business.

I know this will come as shocking news to many of you, but there’s been clues there all along that you’ve simply missed!

The first clue is in the name: the name is actually the United States Postal Service! Imagine that!

So what’s the big deal about service vs. business? Well, businesses may make or lose money, but services cost money.

No one ever seems to complain that the U.S. Military is losing 3/4 of a trillion dollars a year, do they? Of course not, and why? Because the U.S. Military is not losing that money — the U.S. Military is also a service, and not a business.

Most people seem to be ignorant of the fact that the Postal Service is one of the few government agencies specifically authorized by the Constitution. More importantly, no one seems to understand that the Postal Service is required by law to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, and to serve all Americans at a uniform price and quality. But this is perhaps the most important thing to understand about the Postal Service.

Now, everyone just loves to compare the Postal Service to private shipping businesses, namely FedEx and UPS. Of course, this is comparing apples to oranges, but no one ever seems to care about that! The bottom line, however, is that FedEx and UPS will be more than happy to deliver your mail, but they won’t be doing it for anything near 55 cents. Oh, but they’ll guarantee overnight delivery. Yes, for an additional price. But I’ve checked just now: FedEx will be happy to deliver a letter for me to the next street over in my subdivision. The cost? $17 and a half bucks! And if I ship it today it won’t be delivered until Wednesday of next week for that price. The Postal Service will deliver it tomorrow and do it for $0.55.

Moreover, FedEx will charge me more to deliver the same letter to the other side of the state, and more yet to deliver the same letter to the other side of the country. The Postal Service is not allowed to do this.

Hell, even suggest that the Postal Service raise rates to something more competitive and people just bitch, bitch, bitch! All they can seem to say is that the Postal Service should be privatized, and I’m not against that, but no one seems to understand that if the Postal Service was privatized, the very first thing they’d do — and they’d have to do it — is establish competitive rates, meaning the $0.55 first class stamp would be long gone.

But no one wants that. No, people want to be able to simultaneously stand of both sides of the metaphorical fence on this issue. They want the Postal Service to keep doing what it already does, but to do it for less money.

Well, the sad news is that that’s not going to happen. But remember, it’s not a business, it’s a service. Just ask yourself this: when was the last time the U.S. Military cost us substantially less money to operate than the previous year?

See what I mean?

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