Even for the Guardian, this is pretty thin

Philip Rubio defends the US Postal Service claiming that the only funding crisis results from that gosh-darned Congress making them pre-fund retiree health benefits:

So how did an organisation that actually earned a $6131m revenue surplus over the last four years – which included the worst recession since the 1930s – get so deep in debt, with a $10bn deficit this past fiscal year?
The USPS is the victim of an invented crisis. The 2006 Postal Enhancement and Accountability Act forced the postal service to unnecessarily prefund its retiree health benefits 75 years into the future at the rate of $5.5bn a year over a ten-year span.
(my emphasis). Hmm, so that looks like a $4.5bn deficit to me even ignoring the prefunding issue. I wonder why he thinks prefunding health benefits of current retirees is so objectionable - just where does he think the money is going to come from in future?

At least CiF is diligent about giving writers' backgrounds (albeit through a link):

Philip F Rubio is a retired postal worker and an assistant professor of history at North Carolina A&T State University. His second book, There's Always Work at the Post Office: African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice and Equality (2010), won the 2011 Rita Lloyd Moroney Award for scholarship on the history of the American postal system

So not an entirely disinterested party then. He also seems to regard a major role of the USPS as a job factory. As Mr. Worstall is fond of saying, jobs are a cost, not a benefit.

For what it's worth, my experience of the USPS's efficiency made me look favorably once more on the Royal Mail, and its delivery of junk mail is particularly objectionable -- wrapped around real mail so you have to take particular care to ensure you're not throwing out your bank statement along with the flyers from shops you have no wish to ever visit. It may be that prices of letters have to rise substantially - it wouldn't surprise me if 1st class stamps doubled or even tripled in cost to reach break-even - but UPS, Fedex and co. have successfully eaten the USPS's lunch for parcel delivery, and USPS have no-one to blame but themselves.

Remember how Jerry Seinfeld screwed up USPS postie Newman's chance to go to Hawaii when he covered for Newman's round:

Newman: Too many people got their mail. Close to 80%. Nobody's ever cracked the 50% barrier.
Jerry: I tried my best!
Newman: Exactly. You're a disgrace to the uniform.

1 comment:

  1. I just had to go and look up the Rita Moroney award. It's, you guessed, awarded by USPS.

    I have a feeling that a monograph on how UPS and Fed Ex ate their lunch isn't going to win that award (worth $2,000 though!).


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