COLUMN: A Malat Musing: Destructive Apathy Fueled by Misconceptions

Updated: 12/07/2012 3:31 PM KSTP.com By: Phil Malat

The misconceptions surrounding the United States Postal Service are, to say the least, mind-boggling. 

Let’s begin with the fact that not a nickel of taxpayer money funds the USPS. The USPS is a self sustaining agency and always has been. The only time government funds would ever find their way into Post Office coffers would be in the event the USPS would need to borrow money to cover a deficit.

Because laws do not allow the USPS to borrow from any private or outside sources, that money would come to them from the Treasury Department; which is, once again, MANDATED BY LAW.  

Existing laws also place a limit on how much the Post Office may borrow. The current limit is $15 billion. The current Post Office deficit is $15.9 billion. So the Post Office has now lost its operational safety net and faces a painful end unless further action is taken. 

To deal with this harsh reality the Postal Master General has stated that 3,700 postal branches would have to eventually be closed which would eliminate 200,000 postal jobs.  Additional considerations include the continued closings of distribution centers and the suspension of Saturday deliveries.

All of these measures are nothing more than applying a band aid to a bullet wound unless congress repeals the insane 2006 legislative mandate placed on the USPS requiring them to fully fund their benefit programs for seventy-five years within a ridiculous ten-year time frame. This forced the USPS to make yearly contributions of $5.5 billion dollars to meet this new requirement. This demand is the sole reason the Post Office has a financial crisis.  

Add to all of this the following:

1. Previous to the 2006 legislative mandate the USPS had incurred absolutely no debt.  In 2005 they closed their fiscal year in the black.

2. While the Post Office has struggled with debt in the past, records reveal they were raising their rates roughly every three years to cover existing deficits accrued over that period of time.  They were sailing along in greased grooves.

3. With the advent of inter-net email, bill paying by electronic means and additional competition, the Post Office was forced into more frequent rate increases in recent years.  These increases allowed them to comfortably manage their financial burden while successfully competing until the 2006 legislation began crippling them.

4. Roughly 25% of U-P-S and Fed Ex delivers are actually made by the post office.  These deliveries are in mostly rural areas where it is not profitable for U-P-S and Fed Ex to deliver and are, of course, areas that the Post Office services. 

5. Should the Post Office go belly-up it will most assuredly result in much higher delivery rates to create the now absent levels of profitability for U-P-S and Fed Ex. This will not only create a greater financial burden for millions of individual Americans but will place an even greater financial burden on small and many medium sized businesses in our country.

6. It is this Post Office presence in the market place that drives and fuels lower costs across the board for all deliveries by all the delivery services.

Should we lose the Post Office we will needlessly lose hundreds of thousands of Americans jobs. We will needlessly lose competitive, reasonable delivery rates. We will needlessly lose many of the services we enjoy and take for granted today. But most sadly of all, we will needlessly lose a precious national resource source of traditional communication – losses due in large measure to a national apathy fueled by misconceptions.

It is time for Americans to speak out. If ever there was at time or an issue that screamed at us to EMAIL or CALL OUR REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS, CALL A TALK SHOW, CONTACT ALL THE MAJOR NEWS OUTLETS, WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR - to get involved, this is both the time and the issue. It is time to remind our politicians and the news media that we are a fair and just people.

It is time to make it clear that all this manipulation through misconceptions and deceit WILL NOT STAND!  It is time, to be sure, for all to heed the words of Henri-Frederic Amiel; “Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence.” 

Phil Malat is a columnist for KSTP.com.