Cap in Hand, U.S. Postmaster General John Potter has gone to Congress and joined the long line of those looking for bailouts at taxpayer expense. Citing a dramatic slump in business due to a waning economy, increased overhead and pension benefit costs, Potter has said that the Post Office will go entirely broke by 2010 unless it receives an infusion from the Treasury, and raises postal rates across the board (already, rates are slated to increase again in May, 2009). In turn, Potter has also expressed his desire to see Saturday mail delivery eliminated, the closure of smaller rural post offices, and encourages long-time postal employees to accept early retirement deals. If Congress approves such a bailout plan, it will be only the second time in American history that Congress has used tax revenues to do so. The first time was in 1978 in the midst of Jimmy Carter’s presidency.
This is all in the name of maintaining a government monopoly. There is not a shred of justification for this otherwise. It can’t even be successfully argued that this is in the name of fulfilling a constitutional duty. The Constitution of the United States only authorizes Congress to “establish Post Offices and Post roads.” Note that later in the same section it lists “To provide and maintain a Navy,” as a constitutional obligation of Congress (emphasis mine). Clearly, there was no Original Intent to establish permanent governmental control over mail delivery.
All of this, however, is entirely beside the point. No socialist monopoly (which is what all government is, foundationally) can compete with private enterprise. Note how Potter is asking for taxpayers’ forcibly extracted money, while simultaneously calling for reductions in available services. Does anyone seriously think that, the overall state of the economy notwithstanding, firms such as Federal Express, UPS, DHL, US Express and others are going to even suggest doing the same? They will continue competing for each others’ business in the voluntary free marketplace, each attempting to provide the best and widest array of services at the least expense. This is how capitalism does and is supposed to work.
It’s time Americans stopped tolerating this kind of outrageous abuse and economic coralling at the hands of government. It’s not time for more bailouts, higher postage rates, and less efficient services. It is time to remove government from the business of mail delivery altogether.
And next, we need to think very strongly about removing government altogether.