Thursday, March 03, 2005

Stamp Prices Heading Up Again

The Newark Star-Ledger, in an opinion piece calling for privatization of the postal service, reports that another stamp price increase is in the works. Link.
Last week, the U.S. Postal Service took the first step toward raising stamp prices when its board of governors directed management to file for an increase. When the rate- setting procedure is completed, stamps could cost as much as 41 cents by 2006. Apparently, even with a federally enforced monopoly on delivering the mail, USPS can't make ends meet.

If USPS were a competitive company -- as opposed to a bloated federal bureaucracy -- stamp prices would be falling, not rising. It's time to privatize this $69 billion government behemoth. Breaking up the USPS monopoly and selling the organization to investors would go a long way toward lowering costs and improving service.

It is a federal crime to compete with the USPS on first class mail. Luckily, other classes of mail were not included in the monopoly, so we have UPS and FedEx to handle our packages and overnight delivery. Technology is making the post office more and more irrelevant to our lives. E-mail and the ever-cheaper telephone are far preferred to snail-mail as ways to keep in touch with your friends or conduct business, and e-bills and e-payments are fast replacing the paper bill and check in the mail. If a horse were in the USPS's shape, the humane thing would be a bullet in the head. Will Congress do the humane thing for the slowly dying USPS, or will it follow the tradition that no government program is ever done away with, even it the reason it was created has long passed?


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