Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Let's make a deal, Bernie

Vermont's socialist Senator is concerned for the USPS;
First, prefunding [of the USPS obligation to fund health care for its future retirees] must end. The future retiree health fund now has some $50 billion in it. That is enough. This step alone will restore the Postal Service to profitability.
Then they will not be needing the postal rate increase that they were granted by Congress in 2006 to pay for the prefunding. First class postage could be cut back by a few cents per ounce.
Second, the Postal Service should have the flexibility to provide new consumer products and services—a flexibility that was banned by Congress in 2006. It is now against the law for workers in post offices to notarize or make copies of documents; to cash checks; to deliver wine or beer; or to engage in e-commerce activities (like scanning physical mail into a PDF and sending it through e-mail, selling non-postal products on the Internet or offering a non-commercial version of Gmail).
Okay, then the USPS will give up its monopoly on the delivery of first class mail--the Private Express Statutes that ban competition from private entities. Let the best deliveryman win.
A recent report from the Postal Service Inspector General suggests that almost $9 billion a year could be generated by providing financial services. At a time when more than 80 million lower-income Americans have no bank accounts or are forced to rely on rip-off check-cashing storefronts and payday lenders, these kinds of financial services would be of huge social benefit.
If the USPS can raise the capital to run a bank, and be subject to the same banking regulations as every other financial service provider, we're for it.

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