By Fredric Rolando, Published: July 19
Fredric Rolando is president of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
Would it startle you to learn that the U.S. Postal Service netted an impressive profit in the first quarter of this fiscal year? Probably so, given all that has been said about an agency supposedly bleeding billions of dollars as Americans abandon paper mail for the ease of the Internet.
Yet it’s true: Revenue from selling stamps and other products exceeded the costs of delivering mail by $200 million, the Postal Service’s chief financial officer reported in February. Much has been written about the Postal Service, an institution embedded in our Constitution and actually older than the country. It touches the lives of all Americans, and for six straight years it was named the public’s most trusted federal agency, according to the Ponemon Institute. Yet conventional wisdom about the Postal Service is strikingly misleading. I’d like to provide some context that’s rarely heard.
One prevalent myth is that delivering the mail to 150 million addresses six days a week, as more people turn to the Internet, puts taxpayers on the hook for multibillion-dollar losses. In fact, boosted by record worker productivity, the Postal Service is admirably weathering the worst economy in 80 years. In fiscal 2007 through 2010, if you subtract the related costs from the earned revenue from mail delivery (the Postal Service hasn’t received taxpayer money in 30 years), it had an operating profit of $611 million.
There is indeed red ink, but the reasons are unrelated to the mail. In 2006 Congress required that, within the next decade, the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years — a burden no other agency or company faces. That accounts for 85 percent of all of the agency’s red ink since — … Read More