Your editorial (Nov. 29) on the U.S. Postal Service correctly asserts that the agency is as necessary as ever. Indeed, year after year, the public gives the Postal Service favorability ratings above 80 percent — highest of any federal agency — because its trusted employees (one-quarter of them military veterans) provide Americans and their businesses with the world’s most affordable and efficient delivery network.
And as you note, the Postal Service is particularly important in Louisiana, with many residents lacking reliable Internet service.
But you proceed to argue that the agency faces financial challenges because the Internet has led to declining mail. And so, you tout a bill that would reduce services to the public.
Your readers deserve to understand the actual situation at the Postal Service — and why degrading service to people in New Orleans and Baton Rouge and around the country isn’t the answer.
The Postal Service, which supports itself by revenue earned from selling stamps — not by taxpayer money — is operationally profitable. In just-completed fiscal 2014, its operations were in the black by $1.4 billion — and in fiscal 2015’s first month alone (October) by $633 million.
Why? As the economy gradually improves from the worst recession in 80 years, letter revenue is again rising. Meanwhile, skyrocketing online shopping has boosted package revenue, making the Internet a net positive for USPS — auguring well for the future.
There is red ink, but it stems from politics, not the mail. In 2006, a lame-duck Congress mandated that the Postal Service prefund future retiree health benefits. No other public agency or private company is required to prefund for even one year; the Postal Service is required to prefund 75 years into the future and pay for it all in a 10-year period. That $5.6 billion annual charge is the red ink.
Yet, some in Washington want to cut services and slow the mail. They propose eliminating Saturday delivery, which would take a heavy toll on small businesses, the elderly and rural residents, among others. They also would end door-to-door delivery, forcing residents to traipse around neighborhoods in all kinds of weather in search of “cluster boxes.”
Not only would this hurt the public, it would destroy the Postal Service itself, by driving mail — and revenue — away. And it would cost jobs in Louisiana, where 93,218 residents have private-sector jobs in the mailing industry, which depends on a strong, six-day-a-week Postal Service. Meanwhile, 875,974 residents work for Louisiana’s small businesses, which would see costs rise if they had to contract with expensive private carriers to receive checks on weekends.
Rather than cause such problems for Louisianans, the Pelican State’s representatives in Washington should address the actual problem — the prefunding fiasco lawmakers created.
president, National Association of Letter Carriers