POINT OF VIEW

Our current post office can thrive, with just a few small changes

Posted

The U.S. post office recently reported a quarterly loss of $562 million. This will now result in the price of a first class stamp going up by a penny from 49 cents to 50 cents.

One wonders why they previously first decreased the price of a first class stamp from 49 cents to 47 cents, before bringing it back to 49 cents. 

Part of that problems is that Congress in 2006 mandated the post office fully fund 75 years of retirement benefits for employees. This has contributed billions to the post office’s long-term debt.

While many private and other public retirement plans are underfunded, the post office is vastly overfunded. It is time for Congress to amend legislation and afford the post office the ability to fund its retirement plan at a more reasonable level.

There are other initiatives, which could assist the postal service in avoiding frequent postage stamp increases. The post office should continue with more joint business ventures like Amazon in expanding Sunday delivery. This could be the start of something big. 

Using underutilized assets and facilities on Sunday could generate badly needed revenues. This would assist in developing alternatives to the periodic increasing frequency of raising the price of a first class stamp every few years.

Why not consider going after other available untapped potential revenue streams? Consider these untapped sources to reduce operating deficits, and perhaps even turn a small profit. 

The U.S. Postal Service could sell advertising space on the sides of mailboxes, inside and outside the post offices, along with the small Jeeps, regular trucks and heavy-duty long-haul trucks. Sell off some of the valuable real estate and move to less expensive locations.

Why not join banks and fast-food restaurants that sublet space at Wal-Mart and other big box stores to open smaller post offices? Generate both revenue and customers by subletting excess capacity at underutilized post offices to other village, town, county, city, state or federal agencies, along with private sector businesses.

License corporations to sponsor stamps for a fee.

Have members of Congress, state legislatures and other elected officials pay the real, full costs for their annoying frequent bulk rate mailings to constituents. 

They are nothing more than free re-election campaign brochures subsidized by taxpayers. Charge the full price for all junk mail. Future increases in the price of stamps should be directly tied to inflation.

The post office should apply free-enterprise solutions, including working with Amazon and other private sector businesses to provide a more cost-effective product, reduce deficits, and prevent more branches from closing, thus keeping its commitment to serve the public well.

Larry Penner,

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