Save the USPS
What is Happening?
In 2006 the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) was passed requiring the USPS to prepay healthcare for retirees on a 50 year schedule, starting with setting aside $5 billion a year for 10 years. It also limited the flexibility to raise money by placing a cap on certain services, such as first class mail, effectively giving them more costs while capping their profits. After just 3 years they went from $900 million in profits to $3.8 billion in deficit, and it's estimated that about 74% of their net losses since then are directly caused by the PAEA¹.
Immediate action needs to be taken in order to keep the USPS functioning as normal past this September. Part of the reason why the USPS needs immediate help is because of the financial hit they took from the pandemic, and when the government had bailed out other companies for loss they saw from covid-19, they refused to do the same for the USPS. They need $89 billion in pandemic relief, but Trump said, “The Postal Service is a joke [...] The post office should raise the price of a package by approximately four times,” instead of agreeing to supply any help.²
“But raising USPS prices so sharply may not have the impact the president desires, analysts said, as it would put postal services prices far above those of UPS and FedEx, allowing them to raise prices a little and still gain market share, they said.”² - The Washington Post
Many people have argued that privatizing the USPS would help them climb out of their financial situation, but other shipping companies charge substantially more than the USPS currently does - current comparison of prices. Aside from this, there are many locations in the USA that are unprofitable to deliver to, and/or difficult to get to. The USPS currently works under a policy that states they are under “the universal service obligation to maintain six-daya-week mail delivery to all geographies,”¹ which helps include those who live in more remote or hard to reach locations. One great example of this is the USPS’s use of mules to deliver mail to the Havasupai Indians at the bottom of the Grand Canyon³, a location otherwise too difficult to reach by other means. Privatizing would cut off people like the Havasupai Indians from receiving the mail, food, and other supplies they need.
Another argument people take is that mail just isn’t relevant any longer. Yes, some things are better sent through email or the like, but it disregards the 42 million Americans that do not have access to broadband internet⁴, and the 1.2 billion prescriptions delivered just in 2019 by the USPS.⁵
If nothing is done, the USPS will face many consequences and in a worst case scenario be eliminated entirely, making roughly 500,000 people suddenly unemployed. The USPS boasts about being one of the leading employers of minorities and woman, and of those approximately 500,000 people, 39% are POC and 40% are women.⁶ They currently have around 97,000 veteran employees making them one of the largest employers of veterans in our country.⁷
“74% of their net loss…”
The Washington Post
”42 million Americans...”
“1.2 billion perscriptions...”