Nobody has yet improved on Adam Smith’s version of capitalism.  Put different companies and concepts in the economic arena and the invisible hand will pick the most efficient idea and the one that, at its price, most people want to consume. But for the invisible hand to work, the competition has to be fair. And for the United States Post Office, the playing field has been skewed against it for some time. Sure, the Post Office has some crazy work rules and union problems. But the real Post Office problem is that it is held to arbitrary and unfair standards by Congress and then castigated as an example of why government can’t deliver services efficiently. First, the Post Office must deliver to every address at the same price, something that private package delivery companies wont do. Second, pension accounting rules that Congress has mandated bring forward employee retirement expenses decades before they are due to be paid, again something that doesn’t exist in the private sector. And third, the Post Office is required to pay the full pension benefits of many postal workers who worked most of their careers in non postal areas of our government. The is a good article here that recounts some of the foot binding that Congress has placed on the Post Office. When government really can’t provide adequate management and services compared to private enterprise then we need to know about it (Although the government seems to do a pretty good job administering Medicare and the armed forces). But it is unfair and dishonest the way our Post Office has been getting the blame for outcomes that are the direct result of Congressional legislation.
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