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Postal Service necessary but not beloved

Every once a while there is a story that makes me want to go postal. This one just happens to be about the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Jake Johnson, staff writer at Common Dreams, a far-left conspiracy blog warned on Friday: US Postal Service Reportedly Considering Price Hikes as Trump’s Takeover of the Beloved Agency Accelerates!!

Okay, so the exclamation marks are my editorial emendation. However, outside of some union guys who don’t sort or deliver mail, I don’t know anyone who really loves the post office, besides Kamala Harris and Rachel Maddow …

Wasn’t it angry postal or former postal service employees that made the term “going postal” widely used? Why yes, it was, according to this authoritative article that dates back to 2011 about the origins of the term “going postal.”

One of the big reveals in the article is just how much postal employees loathe the United States Postal Service.

Speaking of an internal study done by the USPS in response to workplace violence, the author writes:

It found that Postal Workers were six times more likely to believe they were in danger from other co-workers; that Postal Workers were less likely to believe their employer would take action against violence by non-employees; and that they were more likely to fear being attacked at work. The most astonishing finding was that workers were more likely to agree that managers and supervisors try to provoke employees to violence.

Sounds more like the Marines, than a “beloved agency.”

The Common Dreams article was necessitated because the coronavirus shutdown has highlighted the financial weakness of the Post Office. The biggest problem the USPS faces is a $130 billion-dollar shortfall in employee retirement benefits.

Like a lot of unionized government shops, the postal union discovered some time ago that it could pad its contracts with management by moving unfunded retirement benefits into the out years of a contract. In this way, the union could provide a sweet deal to employees, while management could delay the consequences of the move so that taxpayers would be forced to foot the bill.

Called the retiree health benefits fund, the RHBF “has only $47 billion of the $114 billion needed,” according to Kevin Kosar, Vice President, Research Partnerships at R-Street, a free-market think tank in DC.

“That’s about 41 percent of the obligation, meaning the USPS needs to find nearly $70 billion to be able to cover the costs of the benefits it has promised to its workers.”

The remaining balance of the shortfall is in pension benefits.

To make up the deficit the Trump administration has proposed cutting pay and benefits to be more in line with regular federal employees. Studies almost unanimously agree that public sector workers are paid more than private-sector workers by from 16 percent to 100 percent depending on education. And at least one study showed that private-sector workers work more hours.

Trump also wants to USPS to raise rates on delivery of packages.

The Post Office is quick to point out that 91 percent of the public has a favorable view of the USPS, followed by a 79 percent favorable rating for the CDC, according to the Pew Research Center.   

Still, the same survey found that 65 percent of the public also have a favorable view of the IRS. But that doesn’t mean that we’d bail out the IRS if they had a budget shortfall.

The USPS and the IRS maybe necessary services, but calling them beloved would certainly make a few people go postal.

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