Monday, April 15, 2013

The Worst Postal System in the World, Except . . .

Complaining about the postal system is a national pastime in the U.S., but looking at the rest of the world can put things into perspective.

"The USPS, even with its vast problems, is still the best and cheapest postal system in the world," wrote an unnamed subscriber in a comment published today on Morning News Beat, a grocery industry news site.

The writer, who frequently sends mail overseas, says "most European countries charge between $2.00 and $3.00" to send a one-ounce letter to the U.S., while the comparable rate for an international letter from the U.S. is only $1.10.

(The U.S. Postal System often charges much less than its international counterparts for domestic mail as well. While most magazines in the U.S. are delivered by mail, in many developed countries high postal rates mean that publications are typically delivered via the newsstand system.)

"Even though there is some pilferage stateside, there is nothing like the level of mail theft in other countries," the writer adds. "Yes, I have had delivery problems and things that have disappeared into a black hole, but I still think they do an amazing job with what they have to handle."

This reminds me of a Winston Churchill quip that "democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

Of course, most foreign postal services do have one big advantage over the USPS: They're solvent.


Non Profit Groups said...

Can I just say, this blog is what got me through the day today.
Every time I read it, I just get more and more excited about whats next.
Very refreshing blog and very refreshing ideas.
Im glad that I came across this when I did.
I love what youve got to say and the way you say it.

grannybunny said...

I would hardly go so far as to claim that most foreign posts are solvent. But, be that as it may, USPS would be solvent, too -- operationally, it is profitable -- if Congress would quit bleeding it to the very brink of bankruptcy.

Patty said...

The other postal systems likely do not have a congress intent on privatization by bankrupting them.
Congress can help. They need pressure put on them to do so.

Marc Zazeela said...

I have been sending mail internationally for over 20 years. USPS is by far the best. Best value and best service. And, that goes for both domestic and international services.

Anonymous said...

I spent 6 weeks recently in Scotland and Ireland. I posted letters and cards almost everyday. I received most of them about 4 weeks after I got back. I had letters posted to me for the first 4 weeks. I received all but 1.

Yes congress wants to privatize it and of course once that happens the rates will skyrocket so the company can make instant profits for the owners. And why does congress want the USPS to fully fund the retirement system. SO the US Government can borrow the money. Same problem as Social Security, SS has more than enough money to meet its needs, especially if it cashed out all of the T-Bill etc. it has..

Dave said...

I agree!! USPS is by far the best. Best value and best service. And, that goes for both domestic and international services.

ET - 10 Jeffrey E. Simmons said...

You had me right up until the last line. Most foreign postal services are anything but solvent. The postal service is operationally solvent to the tune of 100's of millions per quarter. Congress is responsible for breaking them.

The passage of PCSRSFRA in 2003 and PAEA in 2006 are bankrupting a postal service which has squirreled away over $300 billion towards retirement systems (CSRS/FERS) and retiree health benefits (PSRHBP). For the last decade the government has funneled 100's of BILLIONS in postal earnings into the US Treasury to use as its own private windfall. Remember, the USPS has not received a dime of taxpayer monies in over 30 years!

Four things are killing the USPS: PSRHBP, CSRS & FERS, military pension obligations and worker's compensation. Solve the first three, which could be done tomorrow, and you've 'fixed' the USPS forever.

PSRHBP is a plan to prefund retiree health benefits through 2081 over a period of only 10 years. NO other business in the WORLD operates under this burden. Since the passage of PAEA in 2006 PSRHBP has accounted for almost 84%of USPS red ink. Congress operates solely off taxpayer monies. They don't prefund their retiree health benefits. There is enough money in PSRHBP TODAY for all current retirees and currently employed future retirees of the USPS. There is no need to continue this $5 to $6 billion/year prefunding as it will be fully funded through 2081 via interest accrual within 2 decades.

CSRS and FERS are the retirement systems of the USPS. They are currently overfunded due to MASSIVELY flawed dynamic actuarial formulas mandated by PCSRSFRA. These retirement systems both contain surpluses as they are currently funded at over 100%. The Fortune 500 standard is 80%. The rest of the federal government funds their CSRS and FERS at about 30%, all with taxpayer monies. Let the USPS use industry standard static funding at the Fortune 500 rate of 80% and refund the tens of billions of surplus postal monies currently inaccessible to them.

Lastly, funding of veteran’s pensions should always come from the US Treasury, regardless of who they happen to work for after retiring from the military. No other entity, federal or civilian, is expected to pay for the military retirements of veterans in their employ. This and postal monies diverted to the US Treasury amount to a hidden tax every time you pay for postage or postal products. The USPS is effectively being punished for employing more veterans than any other organization in America. Do this, adjust CSRS/FERS plus returning their surpluses and eliminate PSRHBP prefunding to put the USPS back in the black for the first time since 2006; when Congress made it literally impossible for them to show a profit even while making one.

As for ‘privatization’, here are a few facts: The USPS process over 40% of the entire world’s mail volume. They do it more effectively, efficiently and inexpensively than all but the smallest of the world’s posts. The USPS processes the combined annual volume of UPS and FedEx twice a week. UPS and FedEx have very lucrative, multi-billion dollar contracts with the postal service, without which they could not survive. The USPS delivers many FedEx and UPS parcels last mile as true universal service would bankrupt them. The USPS supports a trillion $/year mailing industry which employs 10 million nationwide. They are mandated by the US Constitution and have been in existence since 1775. Their charter is to provide universal, 6-day service at reasonable rates and in a timely manner to the American public. USPS corporate and the PMG would like you to believe that labor costs are 80% of their bottom line. Since 2000 they have eliminated over 40% of their staffing, 350,000+ good jobs lost forever. They either got rid of these jobs for no good reason or the labor costs they’ve decried for the past two decades is a lie. It’s your postal service. Don’t let them take it away from you to line their own pockets.