Friday, May 6, 2011

The U. S. Postal Service

You learn something new every day. The American based postal service actually came into existence in 1774, two years before independence. Opponents of British policy were fearful after Benjamin Franklin was fired from the Imperial service as American postmaster. They wanted to be able to exchange letters without concern that the British would open their mail (as Franklin had opened that of Loyalists.) Americans set up a postal service to rival the one run by the British government and soon pushed its competitor out of business.

Traditionally, the United States has had a government run postal service, although the current incarnation is semi-privatized. To do what it does, it actually runs fairly effectively and efficiently. Of course it must compete with electronic communications and private package companies to do so. The U. S. Postal Service also contracts much of its work out to firms such as UPS. Unfortunately, the service also runs at a loss much of the time.

As we debate the inevitable major budget cutting that this generation must do, the Postal Service must be part of the debate. Is the Postal Service a government run business that must at least break even? Or is this an essential service to citizens? These will be the questions asked about the Postal Service and our leaders must be prepared to answer them and then decide how debt reduction will involve the Postal Service.

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