In perpetual financial agony, the Postal Service has announced that it no longer intends to close thousands of rural post offices, notwithstanding the fact that, according to the New York Times, such offices earn an average of $15,000 while costing $114,000 to operate. Apparently constituent political pressures in those rural areas have caused the Postal Service to change its mind and look for other ways to deal with its multibillion dollar shortfalls.
Why can’t we end the Postal Service’s misery by just terminating it? It’s time to not only end its longtime monopoly on the delivery of first-class mail but also to get the government entirely out of the mail business.
After all, let’s be blunt: The Postal Service is a government enterprise. Why would anyone expect it to perform like anything but a government enterprise? As a government enterprise, it’s going to be a mess regardless of who runs it and how it’s run.
In an era in which U.S. public officials are loath to consider themselves socialists, why in the world do they continue to support the Postal Service? Yes, I know, socialism connotes a situation in which the government owns all the businesses, not just some of them. But still, if public ownership of all businesses is bad, shouldn’t ownership and operation of some businesses be presumed to be bad?
Everyone knows that a private-property, free-market system produces the best of everything, especially compared to goods and services provided by government enterprises. Compare, for example, the quality of automobiles produced by privately owned companies and those that used to be produced by government-owned car companies in the Soviet bloc. There is no comparison. Those produced by the Soviet bloc were complete junk.
In a free market, with its competitive order, firms continuously strive to satisfy consumers by constantly improving products and service. Why do they do that? Because they know that if they don’t, customers are going to turn to a competing firm. Consumers are ruthless. They are always looking for better stuff at lower prices. Most of them will readily abandon a business they love if a better one comes along. Borders bookstore and Circuit City come to mind.
Of course, the Postal Service doesn’t have that concern because it has a government-granted monopoly. A monopoly is a special privilege that governments give selected firms, enabling them to be the only provider of a good or service. Everyone else is prohibited from offering the good or service in competition. If competitors try to do so and persist in doing so, the government takes them to jail.
So, how come Americans are supporting a monopoly? I thought America was supposed to stand for free enterprise and competition? Isn’t that what U.S. officials proclaim to the world?
In a time when fiscal responsibility is in short supply, it’s time to end, not reform, the Postal Service. It’s time to get government entirely out of the mail business and to embrace a free-market, competitive mail service. It’s time to deliver the Postal Service into the dustbin of history.