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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Put the Postal Service Out Of Its Misery

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In the latest episode in its periodic throes of pain and misery, the Postal Service has announced that it intends to cancel Saturday delivery of mail in order to save money. I’ve got a better idea: Get the government totally out of the business of delivering mail, by closing down the Postal Service and repealing the government’s legal monopoly on the delivery of first-class mail.

In an era in which politicians of both liberal and conservative stripes trip over each other in a desperate attempt to prove they’re not “socialists” and that they are instead red-blooded American “free-enterprisers,” why is it that they all remain committed to the Postal Service?

After all, the Postal Service is as socialistic an enterprise as one could ever find. Oh sure, they’ve organized it to appear as a corporation but that’s just a sham. Nobody can buy stock in the Postal Service. It is a government operation, no different in principle from those found in communist China, North Korea, and Cuba.

And it’s been given a legal monopoly privilege to deliver first-class mail.

What does a monopoly actually mean? It means that no private business is free to compete against the Postal Service in the delivery of first-class mail. What happens if a private business does try to compete? Postal Service officials immediately contact the Justice Department, which hurriedly sends an attorney to a federal judge in the District of Columbia, who immediately issues an injunction against the private firm. If the private firm ignores the injunction and continues to deliver the mail, the federal judge will cite it for contempt and jail its officials until they confess the error of their ways and promise to never again commit such a dastardly crime.

How can liberals and conservatives justify all this given their purported commitment to “free enterprise”? They can’t. They just continue to support this socialist enterprise, in large part no doubt because it’s been with us for so long.

Most everyone acknowledges that the free market produces the best of everything — the best goods and the best services. That’s precisely why the Postal Service insists on its monopoly. After all, theoretically the Postal Service could be permitted to operate without its postal monopoly. That would enable private firms to compete freely against the Postal Service. The reason the Postal Service has long opposed the repeal of its monopoly is that its officials know that it could never survive in a competitive market, one in which the Postal Service was facing the high quality of goods and services provided by private firms.

One of the popular refrains issued by the Postal Service for decades has been that without the Postal Service, people in the mountains wouldn’t get their mail. Somehow or another, they get their bread, milk, gasoline, and other essential items but, according to the Postal Service, a highly competitive free market in the delivery of first-class mail wouldn’t be able to get mail to people in the mountains. How ridiculous is that?

The Postal Service is an anachronism, a dinosaur. It needs to be put out of its misery. Canceling Saturday mail delivery is not enough. It’s time to cancel the Postal Service itself. We need to rid our nation of this socialistic scourge and let the free market reign.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.