The Corner

The Postal Service’s Red Ink

Postal workers marched at dozens of Staples stores last week, protesting against a public-private partnership to offer some mail services at the office-supply store.

Today on the homepage, I look at why innovations like the partnership with Staples are actually critical to the Postal Service’s survival:

The Postal Service is in woeful financial shape — so much so that in November  of last year, a whopping $5 billion loss was heralded by the New York Times as a “significant improvement.” To their point, in 2012, the Postal Service lost $15.9 billion, and it has experienced net losses for the past seven years in a row. In the past three years alone, the Postal Service has seen a mind-blowing $25 billion in losses.

… Of course, the Postal Service’s hemorrhaging is also the result of declining demand for snail-mail communication in the age of the Internet. In 2013, the Postal Service moved 3 billion fewer pieces of first-class mail than it had in 2012.

Precisely because the mail market is changing, the Post Office must innovate and cut costs if it’s going to survive. The Staples partnership is a good step in this direction. It allows the office-supplies store to sell stamps and offer limited mail services and package delivery.

But would it really be such a bad thing if the Postal Service went out of business?

My fellow Independent Women’s Forum fellow Sabrina Schaeffer was on Fox last week pointing out how privatization might well be the best option:

It’s interesting, especially when you see the success of a company like FedEx. We know that there are companies out there that can get packages overnight from Point A to Point B without a problem, so I don’t know why there’s such a lack of confidence in the ability to privatize the post office.

 That’s easier said than politically done, of course.

Jillian Kay Melchior — Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

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