Privatize the post office

Max Brantley has rightly noted that Congress is often the problem when cutting the number of inefficient post office branches is proposed.

The Arkansas Times rightly jumped on Republicans for whining about the local post office branches that were closing.  (It is sad to me that Republican Presidential Candidates are not very brave about offering any spending cuts.) The real answer is privatizing the post office.

Here is a good article from the Cato Institute:

The USPS is proposing to close 3,700 post office locations across the country, as mail volume falls and the agency is losing billions of dollars.

Kudos to Postmaster Patrick Donahoe for cutting costs, but he missed at least one location. He should add to his list one of the two offices in my neighborhood, which are only a mile apart.

For its story today, the Washington Post went looking for citizens who would complain about the reform, and they found some. One lady in Chevy Chase, Maryland, groused that the post office near her is “part of the culture of the town.” Boy, does that town’s culture ever need help if a sterile government office plays a key role!

Anyway, my neighborhood lost its “culture” when the Borders book store closed last weekend. But that’s life; things change. Maybe a cool new café will open up in the Chevy Chase post office location. I don’t know why people take for granted the huge dynamism we have in arts, society, and the business world, yet they want the government to be a fossilized dinosaur.

Donahoe is trying to cut post office costs, but he does need to expand his horizons to consider more fundamental reforms. On Larry Kudlow’s TV show last night, I pointed to privatized European post offices and expanding postal competition as a good model for the United States, but Donahoe was dismissive. Meanwhile, Susan Collins, who oversees the USPS in the Senate, is even grumbling about Donahoe’s limited reforms.

Will we have to wait until mail volume plummets another 20 percent for U.S. policymakers to get serious about postal reforms?

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