Why We Should Privatize the Postal Service


I don’t think Hell exists, but if it does, I’m pretty sure it involves standing in line for stamps at a post office. We explore why the Postal Service is so terrible, and how to fix it, in the latest Mostly Weekly.

Did you know the Post Office once tried to deliver mail by rocket? They experimented with “missile mail” in the ’50s, but thankfully abandoned the program for fear a delivery error might obliterate a small Midwestern city. Prior to that the agency pioneered using steamships, railways, and pneumatic tubes to supercharge communication. But as communication technology has grown by leaps and bounds, the Post Office has grown calcified and struggles to remain relevant.

That’s not the case in other countries. Britain, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and other nations have all privatized their postal services in one way or another, and the mail still gets delivered. However in the United States we still insist on making the Postal Service a monopoly. It’s against the law to deliver anything but “urgent” letters, which is the only way FedEx gets to exist. If you tried to deliver a normal letter yourself that would be illegal. The Post Office once cracked down on Boy Scouts for trying to deliver Christmas cards.

Unlike our buddies in Europe, we insist on treating the Postal Service as a kind of half-company, half-government agency blob. Combining all the efficiency of the public sector with all the cuddliness of a large corporation. Whenever the Postal Service comes up with an idea to save money, it either gets shouted down by the postal workers union, or by Congressmen who can swoop in to micromanage when they feel like it.

 Andrew Heaton is a writer and standup comedian in New York City. If this post made you laugh or think, kindly "like" it on Facebook.

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