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Opinion | Democrat or Republican, You In all probability Love the Submit Workplace

Share this…FacebookPinterestTwitterLinkedin Final 12 months, within the midst of a presidential election marketing campaign and a pandemic, the U.S. Postal…

By Staff , in Investments , at May 29, 2021

Final 12 months, within the midst of a presidential election marketing campaign and a pandemic, the U.S. Postal Service was politicized by President Donald Trump and his administration as had by no means been accomplished earlier than. Critics accused the postmaster normal, Louis DeJoy, of constructing modifications to mail supply to extend Mr. Trump’s possibilities of re-election, a cost he vehemently denied.

This 12 months, the Postal Service has returned to its conventional position of being the one factor in Washington that Democrats and Republicans can reliably agree on. It’s heartening to see lawmakers from each events lining up behind the Postal Service Reform Act of 2021 — laws launched within the Senate and Home that may assist convey the mail into the twenty first century.

It’s no secret that the rise of electronic mail, e-commerce and digital funds has created an existential disaster for the put up workplace, which has knitted the nation collectively for greater than 245 years. The amount of first-class mail has plummeted. From 2007 to 2020, it declined by 45 %. Income from home mail fell 36 % — to $38.7 billion from $60.6 billion — over the identical interval, curbing the flexibility of the Postal Service to fund its personal operations. A refrain of voices, together with this editorial board’s, have known as for scaling again service in numerous methods to reply to rising prices and falling demand. Extra radical critics have known as for privatizing mail supply altogether.

Privatization is a foul concept. The Postal Service is arguably the one authorities company that exists in each American neighborhood — rural and concrete, wealthy and poor. It has an enviable infrastructure that features the most important fleet of vehicles within the nation and the most important variety of brick-and-mortar storefronts. It stays among the many most trusted and hottest authorities companies. Many individuals rely on the put up workplace to obtain lifesaving medicines and Social Safety checks. Privatizing its capabilities would squander one thing precious that all of us share. Any downsizing should be accomplished with nice care.

Mr. DeJoy’s 10-year plan for the company, introduced in March, seeks to deal with the hemorrhaging of money partly by elevating charges and streamlining service, in some circumstances slicing again on hours and staff. On Friday the Postal Service introduced {that a} first-class stamp would price 58 cents, up from 55 cents, beginning this summer time

Some cutbacks and price will increase are crucial. However what the put up workplace actually wants is reimagining. An alliance of greater than 80 nationwide organizations, together with the American Postal Employees Union, has put out a proposal to make use of the prevailing infrastructure in new methods — anchoring the growth of broadband entry in rural areas or checking in on aged and disabled folks for whom mail carriers are the one level of each day human contact. The alliance’s plan additionally consists of increasing the supply of economic providers, similar to reasonably priced check-cashing, which may very well be very important in underserved areas. A 2015 report by the Postal Service Workplace of Inspector Normal estimates that such providers might present significant help to 68 million Individuals who both don’t have a checking account or depend on costly payday lending packages to money checks. The Postal Service is already the one largest supplier of paper cash orders nationwide, and it provided financial savings accounts to prospects till the late Sixties. The inspector normal’s report estimated that the growth of such providers would generate about $1 billion in new income yearly.

The Postal Service Reform Act wouldn’t explicitly authorize this type of growth, however it might depart the door open for experimentation by together with a provision to permit extra cooperation with state and native governments to supply nonpostal merchandise on their behalf.

The invoice would additionally put the Postal Service on firmer monetary footing by eradicating a 2006 congressional requirement that the company put aside giant quantities of money to cowl the price of worker post-retirement well being advantages 75 years into the longer term. It’s unreasonable to pressure the Postal Service to prefund retiree advantages that far forward, one thing no different entity — public or non-public — is anticipated to do. The invoice would additionally require the Postal Service to enroll all of its staff in Medicare when eligible, considerably decreasing the company’s well being care prices. Though mail carriers pay taxes into Medicare — and are the second-largest contributor to Medicare within the nation — Medicare enrollment is voluntary for retirees.

These modifications, as requested by Mr. DeJoy, would assist cease the monetary bleeding on the company, which has operated at a loss since 2006. It could save an estimated $45 billion over 10 years, liberating up cash to make much-needed investments in modernization. A separate postal reform invoice consists of $8 billion to make a majority of postal vehicles electrical autos, which might be an unlimited leap towards decreasing emissions. That’s a plan that may be embraced by each environmental activists and firms like Amazon, which ships packages via the Postal Service. As Amazon brings extra deliveries in-house, the potential lack of income for the Postal Service poses a problem that should be met with creativity and collaboration with different companies that may fill the hole.

Way more must be accomplished to convey the U.S. Postal Service into the digital age. However this can be a step in the fitting path. The put up workplace has all the time been in a position to adapt to technological change — from the horse specific to the arrival of airmail. It is going to be in a position to adapt as soon as once more, if Congress permits it to spend money on itself and innovate.

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