Leave the Postal Service Alone! Right?
Amid attempts by Congress to cut the Postal Service (including closing up to 3,700 post offices) the APWU has waged a campaign to frantically preserve the status quo, adhering to the old motto: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… And if it’s terribly bankrupt and broken? Well, that sounds like Wall Street fat cat talk to me!”
The ad claims that the USPS costs taxpayers “not a single cent.” Instead, the service is “funded solely by the sale of stamps and postage.”
To start, this is a very, very loose understanding of the word “funded.” The USPS lost $8.5 billion last year and has billions more in unfunded pensions. That’s a lot of Homer Simpson stamps to get back in the black.
What the APWU doesn’t mention is that the USPS survives on cheap, government loans that it fails to pay back. The Treasury has given almost $13 billion to the Postal Service at virtually no interest. The political spin is simple: we aren’t spending money on the Postal Service… it’s an investment!
And why is the Postal Service so broke? Coupled with poor management and a rise in better, cheaper private services, the Postal Service pays its union workers 15-20% higher than the average private sector worker (along with huge pensions).
The APWU campaign is a call for a continued policy of zero-cost debt. We’ve seen this story before – this is the same “fuzzy math” bookkeeping that has culminated in our current fiscal calamity.
All in all, the Postal Service is another powerful testament to government inefficiency and incompetence. Only to be rivaled by the video-producers staffed by the APWU.