James Royal, writing in the Motley Fool, explains how the effort to destroy the economic viability of the U.S. Postal Service is actually aimed at privatizing the service. Privatization offers several goodies to some members of Congress (and their big-money sponsors) who have imposed unique, unprecedented and unnecessary financial burdens on the service:
- Privatization will bust the biggest union in the United States
- Privatization will make it possible to raise postal prices, thus profits to investors
- Privatization will allow the well-funded USPS retirement account to be open for raiding
Here a couple of excerpts from the article, “How the Postal Service Is Being Gutted“:
That 75-year pre-funding mandate adds substantially to the post office’s losses. This is a requirement that no other government agency, let alone a private company, must face. In short, the USPS is paying for people who aren’t even employees yet — in fact, may not even be born yet!
And the USPS has been a model for prudent squirreling. As of Feb. 2012, it had more than $326 billion in assets in its retirement fund, good for covering 91% of future pension and health-care liabilities. In fact, on its pensions, the USPS is more than 100% funded, compared to 42% at the government and 80% at the average Fortune 1000 company. In health-care pre-funding, the USPS stands at 49%, which sounds not so good until you understand that the government doesn’t pre-fund at all and that just 38% of Fortune 1000 companies do, at just a median 37% rate. The USPS does better than almost everyone.
So, if USPS is just government bloat, as some ideologues would have it, then why would efficient free market players such as UPS and FedEx resort to the government? Shouldn’t they simply compete USPS out of that express business?
This paradox reveals in stark detail the industry’s game plan. Compete effectively where possible and then use political power to grab market share from USPS, with the ultimate goal of privatizing the postal system, or at least its profitable parts. This goal is emblematized by the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank founded by Charles Koch advocating the privatization of public services such as the post office. Frederick W. Smith, founder and CEO of FedEx, was on Cato’s board, and FedEx funds Cato.
The results of this game plan are well-documented and disastrous for citizens. Want to know what will go down if the postal service is privatized? (Not postage!) Take a look at the 2008 Chicago parking meter fiasco, where the city leased its meters for 75 years to an investor group. The city gave the concession while estimating lifetime revenue at just half what investors expected. Now 2013 marks the fifth year in a row that meter prices have gone up, and Chicago boasts the highest prices in the U.S. The final middle finger: Whenever the city closes streets (as for a parade), it has to pay investors the lost meter revenue.
Expect the same for postage rates and with reduced service.