The Check Is In the Mail


Can there be a more blatant example of the stupendous incompetence of government bureaucracies (and there are soo many to choose from), then the latest news that they have somehow managed to run the U.S. postal system into the ground. Think about that – even with a federally mandated monopoly they cannot operate profitably. The USPS lost $2.8 billion in 2008 and are seeking financial aid from Congress in order to stay afloat. Now before you say it, let me remind you that neither GM, AIG nor any of the other bailout recipients had the post office’s luxury of zero competition and forced consumer usage.  Sure, there are FedEx and UPS if you’re sending a package or an overnight envelope, but in this country, if you are mailing a letter, bill, advertisement, magazine or even ‘junk’ you have no choice, you must use the post office.

With all this guaranteed patronage, the unfettered discretion to raise prices whenever it suits them (not surprisingly, it suits them often!) and the monumental competitive advantage of tax exempt status, they still can’t make it work. Meanwhile FedEx and UPS are going strong, FedEx most recent quarter ended with a $97 million profit. Of the three, the post office has by far the lowest customer approval rating as well.

For those of us in business, the idea of having the federal government force the entire population to use our product exclusively and still not be capable of operating profitably or satisfying our customers is unimaginable. We operate in the real world where you have to earn your customers patronage and loyalty, where price increases come with an inherrent risk of lost business, where a competitor could open a new location or develop a new service and take market share away.

In the end, the USPS, with none of these worries, and with the backing of the U.S. government, still can’t manage to run its business effectively. And with that we see the demise of the last example of a service or function the government performs better than the private sector. The government can’t balance its budget, but expects its citizens to do so. Can’t educate the country’s youth, but refuses to allow parents a choice in what school their child will attend. Can’t protect its borders and yet has the audacity to allow illegals to sue an American who protects his property since his government won’t. And, now we find that the government can’t effectively run a monopolized business. Yet the administration has the audacity to take over GM and expect to survive going head-to-head with all the world’s succesful auto makers. I wish them luck with that. Common Sense and experience tells us this can’t possibly turn out well.

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