The USPS Reckoning Is Coming, Even in ABQ

Source: Lori Rectanus, United States Government Accountability Office, congressional testimony, February 7, 2017

Union boss Ken Fajardo is miffed that the U.S. Postal Service wants to “cut a total of 63 jobs” in Albuquerque.


The USPS, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, “has lost a total of $62.4 billion since fiscal year 2007.” First-class mail volume, as the chart above shows, has dropped to what it was in 1981. And at the end of the 2016 fiscal year, the USPS had unfunded liabilities and debt of $121 billion.

Once a provider of essential services, in the Digital Age, the monopoly-blessed USPS has morphed into little more than a wildly expensive jobs program. In a 2015 report, Robert J. Shapiro, an adviser to both the Clinton and Obama administrations, noted that labor costs comprised “78 percent of all USPS costs in FY 2014, with about 89 percent of those costs involving employees represented by collective bargaining.” Even worse, federal law “directs that the USPS and its bargaining partners set … wages at levels equal to those paid for comparable work in the private sector, but analysts have concluded that USPS workers earn substantially more than many of their private-sector counterparts.”

Fajardo wailed that cuts are “just gonna devastate customer service even more,” but he conveniently ignored a desirable alternative. As the Cato Institute explained last year, “privatizing the USPS and repealing its various legal monopolies” is essentially a no-brainer. Reform, the think tank’s Chris Edwards predicts, “would give entrepreneurs a chance to improve America’s postal services. In 1979, when the USPS —  under political pressure — lifted its monopoly over ‘extremely urgent’ mail, we saw the growth of innovative private delivery firms such as Fed Ex.”

The federal government’s publicly held and intragovernmental debt tops $20.5 trillion, and the unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare are far larger. The USPS can’t count on perpetual bailouts from D.C. In Albuquerque and elsewhere, change is coming, one way or another. The interests of postal-union bosses shouldn’t be given the slightest consideration as the nation wrestles with a “service” that is no longer affordable.

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2 Replies to “The USPS Reckoning Is Coming, Even in ABQ”

    1. I also agree receiving physical mail 2-3 times a week would be fine. However, why be limited? Privatizing the USPS would allow for delivery companies that would offer packages geared toward what the consumer wants, priced accordingly. Maybe i want delivery 7 days a week – and would pay a premium price. Or maybe I’m like Karen and really only want to receive and pick up mail once/week; or perhaps that’s all i really want to pay for.

      The sooner the USPS is privatized the better.

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