Issa: Postal Service needs solutions other than a taxpayer-funded bailout

posted at 2:00 pm on June 24, 2011 by Tina Korbe

I like snail mail as much as the next person — actually, full disclosure, I prefer old-fashioned mail to virtually any other mode of communication, social media included — so I’m troubled at the $8.5 billion loss the Postal Service faced last year and the $8.3 billion and $8.5 billion projected losses the Service is expected to sustain this year and next.

So is Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee. The Congressman today introduced a bill to reform the Postal Service and save taxpayer dollars. The Daily Caller reports:

The legislation does several things. It creates the Postal Service Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, “which will have a broad mandate to restructure the Postal Service and reduce costs in order to bring the institution back to fiscal solvency when the Postal Service goes into default to the Federal government. The Authority will be disbanded once USPS meets several benchmarks that ensure financial health.”

It would also create the Commission on Postal Reorganization, whose purpose would be to make recommendations to Congress on closures or consolidations with the goal of reducing USPS costs by $2 billion a year. …

[S]ome regulations would be removed to make it easier for the Postal Service to do things like close postal facilities that are not profitable.

Benefits and salaries for Postal Service employees would be cut, putting them more on the level of what private sector employees receive for similar jobs. Oversight estimates that such measures will save $700 million dollars in the 2010 fiscal year, which ends in September.

Oversight estimates that the reforms will save the Postal Service $6 billion dollars a year when all of them have been enacted.

Issa says these reforms will enable the Postal Service to function “more like a business” — always a sound plan. But a Postal Service statement said much of the bill will actually make it more difficult for the USPS to effect cost-saving changes. According to the statement, the bill provides for an additional $10 billion in borrowing from the Federal Treasury and also creates additional layers of bureaucracy that will “slow [the USPS'] progress at streamlining … operations.”

On its face, the USPS statement is right: The Postal Service doesn’t need to borrow more money and bureaucracy is certainly the enemy of efficiency. But it’s difficult to see the connection between the statement and the actual bill. One provision of the bill in particular makes complete sense to me: The USPS absolutely should have the freedom to close non-profitable post offices. The details of Postal Service reform might still have to be teased out and tweaked, but this bill is a step in the right direction. As always, Issa’s vigilance in the service of taxpayers is much appreciated.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Solution: Abolish the Post Office.

NotCoach on June 24, 2011 at 2:02 PM

I wish I could opt out of mail. I never check it.

lansing quaker on June 24, 2011 at 2:03 PM

It creates the Postal Service Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whatever.

BallisticBob on June 24, 2011 at 2:04 PM

First of all, there’s no reason to make pretty commemorative fancy postage stamps.
I’m pretty sure the $$ involved in making them is not recovered.
2nd-do like they do with the rural carriers-let private folks bid for the work.
Since that happened in our area, I have noticed no changes in the quality of service.

Badger40 on June 24, 2011 at 2:05 PM

I never check it.

lansing quaker on June 24, 2011 at 2:03 PM

I’m afraid of my mail.
So’s the hubby.

Badger40 on June 24, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Shut it down! Private mail services have nicer employees and are more efficient.

txhsmom on June 24, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Solution: Abolish the Post Office.

NotCoach on June 24, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Alternate USPS Reform Act:

Eliminate delivery of all physical objects. Place all digital communications (Email, text, cellphone, instant messaging, chat groups, weblogs, etc.) under jurisdiction of USPS, charging a standard fee for each delivery.

Don’t laugh.

BobMbx on June 24, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Here’s an idea… stick it to the Post Office employees’ retirement system, who are the ones strangling the USPS.

The actual operations end runs in the black, IIRC, and it’s the retirement contributions that are sending them far into the red.

teke184 on June 24, 2011 at 2:06 PM

When the constitution was written the Federal Government was the only organization large enough to run a postal system.

There are things that only the government can do. Defense, foreign relations, the judicial system, etc. all fall into this category. The Post Office used to fall into this category as well.

Today there are several reputable companies that could do the job.

There are things that only government can do.
There are things that the government does better than the private sector.
There are things that the private sector does better than government
There are things that only the private sector should do (religion, press).

Today the private sector could clearly run a postal system better than government.

It’s called survival of the fittest.

The Rock on June 24, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Privatize it. Period.

Schadenfreude on June 24, 2011 at 2:09 PM

1. End Saturday delivery
2. Change the pension to defined contribution.
3. Profit (look, no question marks!)

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:10 PM

1. End Saturday delivery
2. Change the pension to defined contribution.
3. Profit (look, no question marks!)

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:10 PM

I especially like #2.
Why do these people need to make so much $$ for a menial job?

Badger40 on June 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

First of all, there’s no reason to make pretty commemorative fancy postage stamps.
I’m pretty sure the $$ involved in making them is not recovered.

Badger40 on June 24, 2011 at 2:05 PM

I worked for awhile in the Stamp Acquisition division, and let me tell you, the USPS makes a ton of money on philatelic sales.

It is nearly pure profit. As long as the stamp itself never gets put into the mail stream, the USPS never incurs the cost of delivering the item. Its like a savings bond that never comes back.

BobMbx on June 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

BobMbx on June 24, 2011 at 2:06 PM

I’m not.

NotCoach on June 24, 2011 at 2:12 PM

1. End Saturday delivery
2. Change the pension to defined contribution.
3. Profit (look, no question marks!)

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:10 PM

NO, don’t end Sat. delivery.

Privatize and let them compete/decide. DON’t become like Europe. Let them get better, if they want.

Schadenfreude on June 24, 2011 at 2:12 PM

I’m afraid of my mail.
So’s the hubby.

Badger40 on June 24, 2011 at 2:05 PM

I fear mine as well. That’s why I have such a large unopened stack. Gonna get brave and go through it tomorrow…

ladyingray on June 24, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Get rid of the postal workers’ union and all the stupid policies mandated by the union, such as rubber rooms. That’s the USPS’s main problem.

txsurveyor on June 24, 2011 at 2:14 PM

My ex’s uncle works for the PO (heck, he may be retired by now, I don’t know). His wife didn’t work. His salary was enough to pay for a huge 5 BR house, 4 relatively new cars, and everything else it costs to keep a family going. Obviously, he was paid very well. And his pension is outrageous.

The PO has done this to themselves. We shouldn’t be forced to bail them out. Let them go under and we can all use UPS or Fed Ex.

ladyingray on June 24, 2011 at 2:14 PM

How do UPS and FedEx manage to make money?

Akzed on June 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Revive the Elvis stamps!!

faraway on June 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Privatize and let them compete/decide. DON’t become like Europe. Let them get better, if they want.

Schadenfreude on June 24, 2011 at 2:12 PM

It would require a constitutional amendment to privatize.

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Outlaw unions

faraway on June 24, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Revive the Elvis stamps!!

faraway on June 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Hey, that was one of my projects.

BobMbx on June 24, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Eliminate delivery of all physical objects. Place all digital communications (Email, text, cellphone, instant messaging, chat groups, weblogs, etc.) under jurisdiction of USPS, charging a standard fee for each delivery.

Don’t laugh.

BobMbx on June 24, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Hasn’t the government taken over enough of our industries in the past 2 years?

UltimateBob on June 24, 2011 at 2:17 PM

It would require a constitutional amendment to privatize.

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Time to get one going!

Schadenfreude on June 24, 2011 at 2:19 PM

I like Darrel Issa and think he’s doing a helluva job in his committee investigations. If he wants the Postal Service to operate as a business, then more bureaucracy oversight will never do that. The USPS gets government considerations their private sector competitors don’t have, yet they still can’t compete. the Postal Service should be spun off as a private company, sold or sold piecemeal.

cartooner on June 24, 2011 at 2:20 PM

I worked for awhile in the Stamp Acquisition division, and let me tell you, the USPS makes a ton of money on philatelic sales.

It is nearly pure profit. As long as the stamp itself never gets put into the mail stream, the USPS never incurs the cost of delivering the item. Its like a savings bond that never comes back.

BobMbx on June 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

ThenI stand corrected.
Thanks for your perspective!

Badger40 on June 24, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Oh lets’ tax the internet and the trolley cars for putting the Pony Express out of business. Imaging those poor horses without a job. Those little white trucks can be reconditioned with bells so they can be used to tell when the Marxists are coming.

What great sport -the free market folks defending the subsidization of an antiquated business.

Don L on June 24, 2011 at 2:20 PM

It would require a constitutional amendment to privatize.

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

How so? Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 does not state that the US shall have soul authority over postal services. It also does not state that a postal service is required to be maintained by the federal government.

NotCoach on June 24, 2011 at 2:22 PM

“When you control the mail, you control information.”……….

………Newman

Knucklehead on June 24, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Solution: Abolish the Post Office.

NotCoach on June 24, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Amen

I am sick of the flyers they are spamming my mailbox with.

Roy Rogers on June 24, 2011 at 2:23 PM

All I get in the mail is bills and junkmail.
And the bills I pay on line anyway.

Count to 10 on June 24, 2011 at 2:26 PM

I am very pleased with my mail service and the local post office, however, I live in a rural area and if I have to use the service in a urban area, it like going to the DMV or the dentist when he just ran out of Novocain.

Wade on June 24, 2011 at 2:28 PM

How so? Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 does not state that the US shall have soul authority over postal services. It also does not state that a postal service is required to be maintained by the federal government.

NotCoach on June 24, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Absolutely right!!

The Pony Express is a historical example of using private enterprise to deliver the mail.

All we need to do is repeal the “Private Express Statutes” which prohibit competition with the USPS, and then stand back and let the private sector solve the problem.

I’ve talked to our local postmaster many times (about service failures), and he claims he has no control over hiring, firing, or route assignments: these are all dictated to him by a union. To me, this is ample evidence that this problem can be easily solved by elimination of the obstacles to performance, which are Government Control, Unions, and Bad/Incompetent Management!!!

landlines on June 24, 2011 at 2:29 PM

If is the pentions that are putting it in the red, then those pentions need to be self with.

Count to 10 on June 24, 2011 at 2:29 PM

“Other solutions? I guess we could send them a printing press…”
 
- President Barack H. Obama

rogerb on June 24, 2011 at 2:32 PM

1. USPS is not funded by taxes or is asking for a bailout.
2. USPS has overfunded its retirement system to the tune of 70 billion. OPM has stated this. USPS wants to abolish this funding rule and ask for the money back that is due them.
3. Privatize USPS means the cost of mailing a letter to Hawaii just went from 44 cents to about 20 dollars, which is what UPS charges for 2 day. Does that sound like a bargain? The mailing industry is huge and puts alot of people to work. Not to mention ebay and lot that uses USPS for shipping. Care to change your statement?

Vanquisher on June 24, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Issa does a good job. Why don’t we hear more about him being a star of the GOP, or running for higher office?

hawksruleva on June 24, 2011 at 2:34 PM

How so? Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 does not state that the US shall have soul authority over postal services. It also does not state that a postal service is required to be maintained by the federal government.

NotCoach on June 24, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Congress is authorized by the constitution to establish post offices and post roads. That means that private mail services must seek approval by congress as well, as UPS and FEDEX did. I don’t see how you get around that without an amendment, and even if one could, by then the system will be tens of billions in the hole.

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Every high school graduate or 19 year old who hasnt graduated should perform compulsory civilian service by being drafted to work for the postal service for 2 years. The gov will pay them minimum wage and provide health insurance.

A great deal of what the PS does is low skill work. As people flow through the system, they will find their level of competency, and learn some skills and responsibility as well.

Labamigo on June 24, 2011 at 2:38 PM

I am sick of the flyers they are spamming my mailbox with.

Roy Rogers on June 24, 2011 at 2:23 PM

You an stop that – fill out a form not to have 3rd rate mail delivered any more. Done.

Schadenfreude on June 24, 2011 at 2:38 PM

Vanquisher on June 24, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Next you are going to say something wild and crazy like ATMs are keeping us at 9% unemployment.

An email costs less than 44 cents and anything larger then a letter may not be going USPS anyways. Let’s put all these postal workers to work demolishing the buildings they work in and scrapping all those steering wheels on the wrong side vehicles.

NotCoach on June 24, 2011 at 2:39 PM

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:37 PM

How did UPS and FedEx get around it? If all it is is a legislative matter then it seems fairly simple to me. Just simply allow private postal services. End of story.

NotCoach on June 24, 2011 at 2:41 PM

The postal service could easily be privatized, same with the public school system….I remember one of Doc Zero’s first posts in the green room was about privatizing public education and how it would create a booming new market.

Mord on June 24, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Congress is authorized by the constitution to establish post offices and post roads. That means that private mail services must seek approval by congress as well, as UPS and FEDEX did. I don’t see how you get around that without an amendment, and even if one could, by then the system will be tens of billions in the hole.

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Yes, but the Constitution does not require the establishment of post offices and roads. Nor does it enumerate what the post office is for. Boxes? Letters? Email? Things that fit in the ovehead bins?

BobMbx on June 24, 2011 at 2:44 PM

When is the protest rally with the blow up rat?They must have one.Every union in the country seems to be having one.

docflash on June 24, 2011 at 2:46 PM

How did UPS and FedEx get around it? If all it is is a legislative matter then it seems fairly simple to me. Just simply allow private postal services. End of story.

NotCoach on June 24, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Fedex does it by classifying all of their packages as urgent correspondence. USPS still conducts raids to ensure that non-urgent items are not being shipped by Fedex.

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:48 PM

The US Postal Service has probably the worst customer service and work ethic next to the DMV. Unionized dimwits that lose IQ points the minute they become employed. It is the quintessential example of a failed, antiquated business model that is run by the federal government. Overpaying and pensioning off people that spend their career insulting customers, screwing up deliveries, blaming regulations and living in a total vacuum of federal insulation from the realities of competition and a general work ethic. I applaud the USPS sinking beneath the waves of dysfunction, overspending and its a crew of entitled dolts. There will be an eager, modern organization that will step up and make a profit with employees that don’t measure the delivery receptacles and refuse delivery if they don’t match spec and will drive delivery trucks with permission to back up. Sealing wax, the USPS and push lawnmowers……buh-bye

Hening on June 24, 2011 at 2:49 PM

3. Privatize USPS means the cost of mailing a letter to Hawaii just went from 44 cents to about 20 dollars, which is what UPS charges for 2 day. Does that sound like a bargain? The mailing industry is huge and puts alot of people to work. Not to mention ebay and lot that uses USPS for shipping. Care to change your statement?

Vanquisher on June 24, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Your first two points are correct.

This one, however, defeats itself. Would you pay $20 to mail something to Hawaii? Neither would anyone else. So whatever private company attempts to charge that much fails on day one.

The USPS uses private industry to move mail from city to city, whether by truck or plane. So privitization has already occurred to some extent. The “USPS Reserved” function is to collect and distribute items to their final destination. This, of course, is where the enormous cost is generated.

BobMbx on June 24, 2011 at 2:50 PM

I know this one!

Make the “rich people” put dozens of stamps on all of their correspondence. Yeah, soak the rich. That’ll fix EVERYTHING!

/lib

hillbillyjim on June 24, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Some interesting items here:

A substantial portion of USPS revenue comes from monopolized activities. In 2002, 57 percent of the Postal Service’s revenues were from monopolized first-class mail, while almost 25 percent were from partially monopolized Standard Mail A (formerly third-class mail).

The monopoly is well enforced. The USPS can conduct searches and seizures if it suspects citizens of contravening its monopoly. For example, in 1993, armed postal inspectors entered the headquarters of Equifax Inc. in Atlanta. The postal inspectors demanded to know if all the mail sent by Equifax through Federal Express was indeed “extremely urgent,” as mandated by the Postal Service’s criteria for suspension of the Private Express Statutes. Equifax paid the Postal Service a fine of $30,000. The Postal Service reportedly collected $521,000 for similar fines from twenty-one mailers between 1991 and 1994.

But the USPS in fact holds two distinct monopolies. The second is a statutory monopoly over the use of private mailboxes. The Criminal Code stipulates a fine if matter on which postage has not been paid is deposited in a mailbox. The Postal Service’s Domestic Mail Manual requires that mailboxes “shall be used exclusively for matter which bears postage.” Additionally, the Domestic Mail Manual specifies the size, shape, and dimensions of mailboxes.

The Supreme Court, in United States Postal Service v. Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations (1981), considered the constitutionality of the mailbox monopoly on free speech grounds. It came to the unappealing conclusion that postal customers must accept a monopoly over their own mailbox in return for the privilege of being subjected to the Postal Service’s monopoly over letter delivery. The Court stated that, “In effect, the postal customer, although he pays for the physical components of the ‘authorized depository,’ agrees to abide by the Postal Service’s regulations in exchange for the Postal Service agreeing to deliver and pick up his mail.”

http://www.aei.org/paper/17488

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:53 PM

The pension plan in the USPS is defined contribution. All federal (except Congress) employs have a DC plan now. It was changed seceralmyears ago.

I trust Mr. Issa on most things & don’t think he would intentional muck things up but there has to be a better way then adding more boards and commissions.

If you want Saturday delivery then pay for it. Everyone else will go without or get a PO box (which is the same thing as paying for it). Change the USPS to a profit making company instead of a non-profit.

I totally agree with the consolidation and closing of offices. There will still need to be some rural stations just cuz of the isolation and vastness of our western states.

Go to Mr. Issa. Make it work.

Terri on June 24, 2011 at 2:55 PM

Several years ago.

Employees

Sorry, fat fingers?

Terri on June 24, 2011 at 2:58 PM

1. USPS is not funded by taxes or is asking for a bailout.
2. USPS has overfunded its retirement system to the tune of 70 billion. OPM has stated this. USPS wants to abolish this funding rule and ask for the money back that is due them.
3. Privatize USPS means the cost of mailing a letter to Hawaii just went from 44 cents to about 20 dollars, which is what UPS charges for 2 day. Does that sound like a bargain? The mailing industry is huge and puts alot of people to work. Not to mention ebay and lot that uses USPS for shipping. Care to change your statement?

Vanquisher on June 24, 2011 at 2:32 PM

1. Who covers their $8 billion a year in losses? Uncle Sam.
2. Are you saying an agency that mis-spends $70 billion is well-run? You’ll never hear of a private company making such a mistake, because they have to account for their money.
3. First off, it’s $12 for UPS Ground to Hawaii. Does 44 cents get your USPS letter to Hawaii in 2 days? No. So it’s not apples to apples. How often do you send mail to Hawaii, anyway? You could just email a PDF from your local UPS and Fedex would charge less if they had more volume. If the US Postal Service disappeared tomorrow, a bunch of mailing services would pop up, compete on the basis of quality and price. We’d get better service at lower prices than the USPS has now. That’s how capitalism works.

hawksruleva on June 24, 2011 at 2:58 PM

As much as I would like to say how bad the USPS is, it is still a pretty good deal to get an envelope from Washington State to Florida in a week for less than 50 cents.

Try that with the private providers.

One idea for $$$… Why not sell advertising on stamps? Might acutally be pretty cool years from now to see what kind of junk was being sold…

tomlw on June 24, 2011 at 3:00 PM

As the price of stamps goes up each year, it’s funny how the bulk rates have stayed the same. Most of the mail I receive is advertisements and catalogues. This also is the heaviest mail for our couriers. It may cause volume to decrease, but people will use the internet to find out about sales and cheapest prices.

djaymick on June 24, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Maybe if they had to actually compete for business and didn’t have a government monopoly on Your mailbox they would have learned to be innovative and competitive.

Chip on June 24, 2011 at 3:05 PM

1. USPS is not funded by taxes or is asking for a bailout.
2. USPS has overfunded its retirement system to the tune of 70 billion. OPM has stated this. USPS wants to abolish this funding rule and ask for the money back that is due them.
3. Privatize USPS means the cost of mailing a letter to Hawaii just went from 44 cents to about 20 dollars, which is what UPS charges for 2 day. Does that sound like a bargain? The mailing industry is huge and puts alot of people to work. Not to mention ebay and lot that uses USPS for shipping. Care to change your statement?

Vanquisher on June 24, 2011 at 2:32 PM

1. Not yet. But we all know what happens when an entity deemed “too big to fail” begins to fail–especially when union members’ pensions are involved.
2. This is untrue. The USPS wants to retroactively change agreements to its favor and be paid money it is not owed based on those changes.
3. Made up numbers. Lets stick with facts or at least projections with some substance behind them.

stvnscott on June 24, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Since the postal worker contract forbids any layoffs (besides including mandatory raises above COLA raises) I don’t think closing some branches will save much money.

I don’t believe their pension fund is over invested. I’d like to see what they use as a discount rate (expected long-term ROI). I presume there are using 10% or 12% instead of 5% or 6%.

purpleslog on June 24, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Sell it.

Aristomenes on June 24, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Sort of the Topic of Issa:

Gunwalker: Issa Defends ATF Whistleblowers from Retaliation

Rep. Darrell Issa sends a letter to the ATF forewarning against reprisals towards the four Gunrunner whistleblowers, who have expressed fear of such from this agency with a reputation for it.

And:

Another Murder Linked to US Gunwalker Case

CBS News has confirmed that ATF Fast and Furious “walked” guns have been linked to the terrorist torture and murder of the brother of a Mexican state attorney general last fall.

This latest revelation complicates the already strained relationship between the U.S. and Mexico since CBS News first reported on the gunwalker scandal last February.

NMRN123 on June 24, 2011 at 3:15 PM

The Supreme Court, in United States Postal Service v. Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations (1981), considered the constitutionality of the mailbox monopoly on free speech grounds. It came to the unappealing conclusion that postal customers must accept a monopoly over their own mailbox in return for the privilege of being subjected to the Postal Service’s monopoly over letter delivery. The Court stated that, “In effect, the postal customer, although he pays for the physical components of the ‘authorized depository,’ agrees to abide by the Postal Service’s regulations in exchange for the Postal Service agreeing to deliver and pick up his mail.”
http://www.aei.org/paper/17488

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:53 PM

My mother in law needs to be arrested.
She’s always leaving crap in my mail box as she drives by bcs the box is a mile from my house.

Badger40 on June 24, 2011 at 3:22 PM

Other than the huge pension funding problem the USPS owns….

Well, there is this stupid “Forever” stamp idea and the “if it fits it ships,” I mean, c’mon, if it weighs two ounces and fits it’ll sail for the same price as a 70 pound block of lead? Both will cost the USPS major bucks, if they haven’t already.

Cut the marketing…people already know they have to mail stuff. Not like this was just invented last week. How much does a prime time TV ad cost on most networks these days? Local market costs? A heck of a lot. For what?

Perhaps even going to fractional postage so that 1/3 ounce letter goes for the price of a 1/3 ounce, not a full ounce? Worked well until the Post Office Department became the “postal service.”

Set up a postal review commission and invite, no, demand, input from regular folks who actually use snail mail.

I have been a philatelist since I was about six…and the USPS is certainly not stamp-collector friendly anymore. For the postal service stamp collectors should be viewed for what they provide…free money….and maybe taken into account once in awhile?

The postal service should not try to compete with FedEx or UPS. Maybe identifying and sticking to their essential competencies might work out better for them?

coldwarrior on June 24, 2011 at 3:23 PM

I check my mail once every 2-3 weeks, I get all my bill electronically and e-pay everything but rent (which I hand deliver to the office)… have to try to be a bit better though, almost missed my Jury Notice summons earlier this month.

On a usual mail collection I get 30-40 pieces of mail. Of the 40 30 go in the trash immediately, 6 get opened, scanned and pitched, 2 get read a bit further (often because they’re confusing) then pitched, one gets put aside so I can deal with it later, and one is either something I ordered, or a letter from my parents (and the reason I got my mail)…

You think I’m willing to support another 10 billion on their “mission” to bring me 95% crap that I throw away immediately?

I mail my taxes and quarterly estimated taxes (because giving the government direct-withdraw access to my bank account didn’t sound like a plan I’d support after seeing their fiscal responsibility elsewhere)… but that’s all my outgoing mail.

Maybe 10-12 stamps a year (Fed & state, 4 quarters + annual taxes… maybe 1-2 others total)… you could close the Post office down and I might not notice for 4-6 weeks.

gekkobear on June 24, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Issa says these reforms will enable the Postal Service to function “more like a business”

Better idea: Abolish USPS and pay UPS to make the deliveries.

petefrt on June 24, 2011 at 3:29 PM

3. Privatize USPS means the cost of mailing a letter to Hawaii just went from 44 cents to about 20 dollars, which is what UPS charges for 2 day. Does that sound like a bargain? The mailing industry is huge and puts alot of people to work. Not to mention ebay and lot that uses USPS for shipping. Care to change your statement?

Vanquisher on June 24, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Transportation of mail outside the Continental US is heavily subsidized. But this does not support your point.

The USPS wastes most of its money and manpower in carrying mail the “last mile.” There are plenty of people who are better at solving that problem. In our own suburban neighborhood, there are dozens of ‘hang tag’ delivery services who go door to door hanging ads on doorknobs to avoid using mailboxes: obviously, any of them can do this job much less expensively than the USPS.

Even with the subsidy for delivery outside the Continental US, USPS cannot compete with UPS and FEDEX for package delivery to Alaska and Hawaii. USPS is only competitive to USVI and Puerto Rico as long as statutory barriers are maintained which require other carriers (but not USPS) to “export” packages going to USVI and Puerto Rico. The forced unnecessary “export” adds $20-$30 to the price for the extra and totally unnecessary routing through customs. Congress has it in its power to drastically reduce the cost of deliveries to USVI, Puerto Rico, Ascension Islands, and Guam immediately by simply changing or repealing ridiculous laws.

If statutory barriers were removed, I firmly believe that the mail delivery system would be rebuilt by private enterprise into a better and less expensive system very quickly.

landlines on June 24, 2011 at 3:37 PM

Here’s the reason they’re failing. I ordered some stuff from Amazon. I live in central Florida. The stuff was shipped to Orlando, Thurs evening. It’s supposed to be delivered today but instead of shipping it to my Post Office they shipped it to Jacksonville. Thanks PO.

JimK on June 24, 2011 at 3:41 PM

The USPS absolutely should have the freedom to close non-profitable post offices.

“Look for… the Union label!”

Seriously, this sounds like (and probably is) a way for the postal unions to maintain nonprofitable post offices and (ahem) not cut (union) jobs.

psrch on June 24, 2011 at 3:50 PM

How do UPS and FedEx manage to make money?

Akzed on June 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

They do charge a lot more than the Postal Service does to send letters and packages overnight.

3. Privatize USPS means the cost of mailing a letter to Hawaii just went from 44 cents to about 20 dollars, which is what UPS charges for 2 day. Does that sound like a bargain? The mailing industry is huge and puts alot of people to work. Not to mention ebay and lot that uses USPS for shipping. Care to change your statement?

Vanquisher on June 24, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Since the Postal Service used to be a government-run monopoly, it had the mandate to deliver mail wherever someone wanted to send it, at a fixed price, which was not dependent on the actual cost. A person who spends 44 cents to mail a letter from Maine to Hawaii is getting a real bargain, while the Postal Service makes money on those who spend 44 cents to mail a letter within the same town.

The Postal Service has a number of main regional mail-sorting centers, each of which serves a number of branch offices which correspond to a 5-digit ZIP code.

One possible solution would be to allow the Postal Service to charge variable rates depending on the distance mailed.

For example:

Lowest rate for mail delivered within the same ZIP code.

Medium rates for mail delivered outside the ZIP code, but within the region served by the same sorting center.

Higher rates for mail delivered from one postal region to another, which might depend on distance between the regional sorting centers.

If such variable pricing were allowed by law, customers would consider the actual cost of mailing letters, and may choose to do business online rather than mailing bills and/or checks to distant vendors, and vendors who send out massive amounts of “junk mail” might think about relocating closer to their customers.

Steve Z on June 24, 2011 at 3:52 PM

3. Privatize USPS means the cost of mailing a letter to Hawaii just went from 44 cents to about 20 dollars, which is what UPS charges for 2 day. Does that sound like a bargain?

Vanquisher

Sounds more like retarded logic on your part.

xblade on June 24, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Privatize USPS means the cost of mailing a letter to Hawaii just went from 44 cents to about 20 dollars, which is what UPS charges for 2 day

USPS can do that because of economies of scale. If you privatized mail delivery, all the business now going to USPS would be going elsewhere, which would allow the carriers who take up that slack to benefit from economies of scale. In other words, the drastic increase you mention is a phantom.

Also, of course, that would create competition for your business. Those carriers would obviously work hard to eliminate waste and keep costs low, so that they could keep their prices lower than their competition; if they didn’t, you’d take your business elsewhere. That’s the law of supply and demand. You know, Econ 101…

psrch on June 24, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Here’s the reason they’re failing. I ordered some stuff from Amazon. I live in central Florida. The stuff was shipped to Orlando, Thurs evening. It’s supposed to be delivered today but instead of shipping it to my Post Office they shipped it to Jacksonville. Thanks PO.

JimK on June 24, 2011 at 3:41 PM

Like no other service made a mistake. Grow up

Wade on June 24, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Vashta.Nerada on June 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

MMM, no.

The Constitution gives Congress the power “To establish post offices and post roads;”, the monopoly the USPS has is established by statute, not the Constitution.

LarryD on June 24, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Cut them loose, and from there they can either sink or swim; it all depends on whether they have the will to run it as a profitable business.

I had to go to the post office the other day – my kid is at camp and I wanted to mail her a package.

It was miserable.

Eight people, including me. Three windows. Two of them had the “Please see next teller” sign in them.

The one teller on duty was, of course, slow as Christmas. Five minutes after I went in, she had completed work for exactly one customer.

One customer came in after me, and the teller looks at the clock. Almost 5:00. She disappears, then reappears from a side door to close the blinds on the customer entrance doors, and lock them so we can get out but nobody can get in. I should add that she is in no hurry to do any of this.

Then this dingbat comes up to the door with an armload of packages, and grabs the handle and tries to open the doors. The lady behind me, who’s last in line, shouts up to the teller and asks if she wants her to let the woman in.

Teller says sure.

Which means: She has to disappear again from behind the counter, reappear from the side door, and go through the rigamarole of opening the doors, then letting the woman in, then locking the doors again. Again, she does not seem in any particular hurry to do any of this.

It’s then easily 15 minutes before I get up to the counter and take care of my business, at which point I’m going on half an hour inside the damn place.

Had I billed that half hour to a client, I would have made enough money to pay my water/sewer bill for a month, or cable bill for a month, or… well, you get the idea.

All to send a little box 60 miles down the road.

Cut off the Post Office at 8:00 Monday morning.

greggriffith on June 24, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Better idea: Abolish USPS and pay UPS to make the deliveries.

petefrt on June 24, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Not UPS, -they have their own union, just as greedy as that of USPS.

slickwillie2001 on June 24, 2011 at 4:35 PM

First of all, there’s no reason to make pretty commemorative fancy postage stamps.
I’m pretty sure the $$ involved in making them is not recovered.

Uhh… wrong. Post offices throughout the world make very good profits on commemoratives. This is especially true for stamps commemorating things like moon landings, famous people, etc. I am not a philatelist but as I recall, the post office will send out a mailing, with the stamp on it, post marked with the date the stamp was issued. Philatelists snap these up, and the post office makes good money on ‘em.

friendlygrizzly on June 24, 2011 at 4:52 PM

Most Amazon packages are drop-shipped on pallets via a trucking company to USPS processing centers then delivered via USPS. UPS will not deliver (the same for FedEx) to every home in the US. They say it is not economically fesible for them to do business that way.

Terri on June 24, 2011 at 4:54 PM

The UPS union is much more powerful than the unions of the postal service. The federal govt does not have to abide by the same collective bargaining rules as private business.

Terri on June 24, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Issa does a good job. Why don’t we hear more about him being a star of the GOP, or running for higher office?

Because he is doing his job, rather than being a mic-and-camera whore.

friendlygrizzly on June 24, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Make the “rich people” put dozens of stamps on all of their correspondence. Yeah, soak the rich. That’ll fix EVERYTHING!

Your plan does not go quite far enough. It also needs an “earned postage mailing credit”, where the alleged poor not only don’t put stamps on their letters, but when their mail arrives, it has extra stamps inside whatever has been mailed to them,

Let’s really get into the spirit here, shall we?

/ must I?

friendlygrizzly on June 24, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Just a thought. Cain runs for PRes. Wasn’t he a pizza guy? They learn how to deliver in 30 minutes. I am sure he could find a fix to the fat cat USPS system.

seven on June 24, 2011 at 5:10 PM

How do UPS and FedEx manage to make money?

Akzed on June 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

They use modern management techniques and innovation to do the job better, faster, and cheaper. UPS and FEDEX use different logistics and different business plans, so each has their “thing that they’re best at.”

I’ve had business accounts with both companies for over 25 years, but currently use UPS for most shipments…so I’ll point out some of the things they do to make their operation efficient.

Among the reasons that UPS is better than USPS in my area:
1. UPS has the same driver on our route for over 20 years. That driver takes “his” route seriously, and gets a say in who fills in for him when he’s on vacation, etc.
2. UPS trucks are “hot-linked” to the local distribution center, which is in turn linked into the worldwide UPS computer network. The system “knows” where the truck is and what is on the truck in real time. It notifies the driver directly if he attempts to deliver a package and the GPS says that he’s not the right location (sometimes the driver knows best, though). Every address is plotted out, turn-by-turn, with road construction and other factors taken into account. Every package on the truck is in a physical location deemed efficient both by the system AND the driver (drivers can override automatic decisions, and correct the decision-making). The system is so aware of what’s going on in real-time that UPS can actually intercept a package already on the delivery truck and re-route it at the shipper’s request.
3. Drivers have cell phones as backup to the computer and custom tablet they carry.
4. All vehicles are superbly maintained, inspected, and washed daily. Drivers have the same ability that airline pilots have to inspect and/or reject the vehicles…just to make sure everything is 100% working. They are backed up by a dispatching system second to none which can deploy a backup truck and driver instantly if something should go wrong.
5. UPS warehouses “know” what packages are due to arrive, and they scan them to verify arrival. In response to shipping volume in real-time, truck routes are adjusted and truck loading is modified so that everything fits and leaves on schedule. Loaders are given specific instructions on where to put each package on the truck.
6. UPS provides its customers with everything they need to produce legible, scannable shipping labels, so that every package is fully prepared before UPS receives it.
7. UPS consolidates billing information and bills its customers periodically instead of disrupting each transaction to collect the cost. The billing is seamlessly connected to label production: not an extra step.

In contrast, USPS offers no real-time support to carriers, and it actively resists all efforts to track mail. This allows mistakes to be repeated over and over again without any correction. USPS uses stamps: a 16th century artifact which actually prevents efficient transactions.

landlines on June 24, 2011 at 5:13 PM

She’s always leaving crap in my mail box as she drives by bcs the box is a mile from my house.

My mother lives in a place where the mailboxes are in a cinderblock plinth containing the street lights, two mail boxes (each plinth serves two dwellings), and two tubes about 3″ in diameter. It is a retirement community so there is always one group or another advertizing a bake sale or a bacce-ball tournament or some such. The tubes are for the advertising flyers. Handy, and it keeps the Federales from filling our prisons with habitual aging-flyer-passer-outers.

friendlygrizzly on June 24, 2011 at 5:17 PM

Raise the cost of sending junk mail.

disa on June 24, 2011 at 5:21 PM

So the PO objects to the bill by saying it will make it harder for them to do something they have never done and have no intention of doing by insisting that they do it.

The fact that they feel confident even making such an inane argument tells you how broken the system is.

Merovign on June 24, 2011 at 6:10 PM

I worked for awhile in the Stamp Acquisition division, and let me tell you, the USPS makes a ton of money on philatelic sales.

It is nearly pure profit. As long as the stamp itself never gets put into the mail stream, the USPS never incurs the cost of delivering the item. Its like a savings bond that never comes back.

BobMbx on June 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Junk mail is also a huge source of revenue…What’s up with people trying so hard to sell us stuff? Sounds like free enterprise or something.

We should also sell off all of our National Parks…I never go to them.

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 24, 2011 at 6:31 PM

My urban Post Office recently started selling greeting cards.

Now I agree that selling Birthday cards should not be considered an essential government service.

But it is a clever convenient service that most likely raises revenue from the cards and increases the sales of postage stamps.

It is the type of customer-focused ingenuity that comes from a tight budget environment and the fear of increasing competition from private companies.

Viva competition!

wren on June 24, 2011 at 6:31 PM

Contract it out as a competative uniform service contract. Congress need not create a single PO, but can open up a standard service system that requires interoperation between carriers for all current postal goods. By requiring a base minimum uniform service type the thing that is left open for those meeting the criteria: price.

A similar system is that of airports where all carriers work via a uniform standard, as does each airport, but the actual running of operations and costs is left up to each provider of service.

The Internet typifies a uniform service (TCP/IP) to which any carrier must adhere to, but then can offer prices based on speed and quality of service, yet all messaging is delivered via a commonly interoperated system.

For anything in which Congress can form one entity, it can allow many as there is no set way for a sovereign to do things, thus those things we hand to the government can be done in multiple different ways and venues, so long as they all operate to meet the requirements set by the people. The US has had plural postal service organizations before, and has actually encouraged multiple carriers (that was with airmail). If it can be done once, it can be done again… and again… and again…

Not just privatizing, but setting an open standard delivery system so that all carriers wishing to participate know what the ground rules are.

ajacksonian on June 24, 2011 at 8:03 PM

Wow, then how’d this perfectly run UPS company screw up my redelivery request, by returning it marked as refused. Must been a bad day in UPS perfectville

How do UPS and FedEx manage to make money?

Akzed on June 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

They use modern management techniques and innovation to do the job better, faster, and cheaper. UPS and FEDEX use different logistics and different business plans, so each has their “thing that they’re best at.”

I’ve had business accounts with both companies for over 25 years, but currently use UPS for most shipments…so I’ll point out some of the things they do to make their operation efficient.

Among the reasons that UPS is better than USPS in my area:
1. UPS has the same driver on our route for over 20 years. That driver takes “his” route seriously, and gets a say in who fills in for him when he’s on vacation, etc.
2. UPS trucks are “hot-linked” to the local distribution center, which is in turn linked into the worldwide UPS computer network. The system “knows” where the truck is and what is on the truck in real time. It notifies the driver directly if he attempts to deliver a package and the GPS says that he’s not the right location (sometimes the driver knows best, though). Every address is plotted out, turn-by-turn, with road construction and other factors taken into account. Every package on the truck is in a physical location deemed efficient both by the system AND the driver (drivers can override automatic decisions, and correct the decision-making). The system is so aware of what’s going on in real-time that UPS can actually intercept a package already on the delivery truck and re-route it at the shipper’s request.
3. Drivers have cell phones as backup to the computer and custom tablet they carry.
4. All vehicles are superbly maintained, inspected, and washed daily. Drivers have the same ability that airline pilots have to inspect and/or reject the vehicles…just to make sure everything is 100% working. They are backed up by a dispatching system second to none which can deploy a backup truck and driver instantly if something should go wrong.
5. UPS warehouses “know” what packages are due to arrive, and they scan them to verify arrival. In response to shipping volume in real-time, truck routes are adjusted and truck loading is modified so that everything fits and leaves on schedule. Loaders are given specific instructions on where to put each package on the truck.
6. UPS provides its customers with everything they need to produce legible, scannable shipping labels, so that every package is fully prepared before UPS receives it.
7. UPS consolidates billing information and bills its customers periodically instead of disrupting each transaction to collect the cost. The billing is seamlessly connected to label production: not an extra step.

In contrast, USPS offers no real-time support to carriers, and it actively resists all efforts to track mail. This allows mistakes to be repeated over and over again without any correction. USPS uses stamps: a 16th century artifact which actually prevents efficient transactions.

landlines on June 24, 2011 at 5:13 PM

malkinmania on June 25, 2011 at 12:32 AM

The P.O. has needed reform for decades. It’s another quasi govt institution and their biggest problem is UNIONS. Their business is by nature very labor intensive, but lowering payroll costs, eliminating some of the hiring practices and junk mail would be a big step toward fiscal responsibility.

Kissmygrits on June 25, 2011 at 9:59 AM