Squeezed by dwindling business and rising costs, the U.S. Postal Service is so desperate for money that it might have to shut down this winter unless Congress comes to the rescue, reports The New York Times. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe wants lawmakers' permission to shutter 3,700 offices and lay off 120,000 workers, despite a no-layoff clause in the agency's union contract. Should lawmakers throw the Postal Service a life line or is snail mail doomed?
If Congress is smart, it will find the money: It looks like we have found the next potential victim of the GOP's "political hostage taking," says Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice. But let's hope Republicans don't demand that their "least favorite programs" get cut before the Postal Service gets a helping hand. "If you think a government shutdown was unpopular years ago, just think of the reaction if people don't get their mail ... their checks ... their business documents."
"Broke U.S. Postal Service could shut down this winter"
Only union concessions can save the Post Office: Why bother with a bailout? says Rick Moran at The American Thinker. "Five years down the road — maybe sooner — we'll be asked to bail them out again." The only way to save the Postal Service is for the unions to give up the no-layoff clause they won back when the Postal Service was a monopoly. Labor accounts for 80 percent of the Postal Service's expenses (compared with 32 percent for FedEx). No business can survive with such "gobsmackingly high" labor costs.
"Postal Service on the brink"
Congress needs to untie the agency's hands: Congress is the one killing the Postal Service, says Felix Salmon at Reuters. It's forcing the agency to pay $5.5 billion a year for retiree health benefits, making it deliver mail on Saturdays, and telling it how much it can raise postage rates. If Washington would stop "tying the Post Office’s hands behind its back" and let it compete, it might be able to stand on its own two feet.
"How to solve the Post Office's problems"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Pope Francis' American problem
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- 10 things you need to know today: December 19, 2014
- Girls on Film: 5 essential World War II movies directed by women
Subscribe to the Week