Tom Stangl

It’s really, really easy to pick on the United States Postal Service (USPS).

They wear those funky uniforms, drive the strange trucks and who really DOES the mail, anyway?

Like Jerry Seinfeld’s nemesis Newman from his sitcom of the 90s, no one likes the USPS.

It’s oh so easy to dismiss the USPS as an antiquated relic that hasn’t figured out that its time has passed.

Last week, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy unveiled the agency’s 10-year plan “Delivering for America” that highlighted rate increases and longer delivery times as the way the postal service will preserve their mandate of universal service.

DeJoy, appointed last year by President Trump, is another fellow easy to dislike. He’s shown himself to be fairly tone deaf on delivery service concerns and frankly doesn’t care what you think of him or USPS. DeJoy is what I imagine a Postmaster Newman would look and act like if he were to ascend to the throne.

USPS will eliminate air transportation for much of its long-distance First-Class mail but does not expect a loss of actual service performance for local First-Class mail, DeJoy said. He noted by reducing hand-offs of mail and packages to multiple legs of air travel, USPS hopes to make surface transportation more dependable than air freight.

The plan includes the expectation of $44 billion in higher postage revenue from mailers and package businesses over 10 years, following the Postal Regulatory Commission’s authorization of higher postage rates, including rate increases for newspapers like the one you are reading. 

We depend on the USPS to deliver our paper all over the nation every week, so all jokes about Postmaster DeJoy aside, we want and need for the service to continue to succeed.

USPS’ financial woes are nothing new. They have struggled with a requirement to prefund health benefits for retirees. USPS is currently putting money away for retirees who haven’t even begun working for them, something no other federal agency is required to do.

The National Newspaper Association, a trade organization this newspaper is a member of, has long called for Congress to change the requirement for USPS to prefund its retiree health benefit, to use the Medicare benefit that mailers have paid for on behalf of postal workers and to make sure the money captured in the Civil Service Retirement System is actually the Postal Service’s obligation only and not money being used to support other federal needs.

Coincidentally, the amount of the revenue shortfall USPS is facing is nearly identical to the prefunding mandate for health care benefits for retirees.

As Americans, the promise of universal service means USPS will deliver mail to the nation, no matter the size of the parcel or community it is addressed to, for the same rate. Even with the advent of the internet, millions depend on USPS to deliver everything from medicine to bills to “care packages” from home. Those who point to parcel delivery services such as Untied Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx as models for USPS fail to understand the breadth and scope of the universal service mandate.

It is past time Congress addressed this ridiculous requirement for health care expenses. USPS can address real challenges without this false expense on its balance sheets.

And, for the record, we appreciate employees of USPS who remember the last “S” stand for service. There seem to be fewer of them around, but know we have mad love for you, despite the Postmaster General.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading. I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same. 

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