This isn't an "email takes over story," as the Times falsely (in my opinion) is claiming. It's a "privitize government services" story ? and a horrible one.
Short version: The government is conspiring to kill either the Post Office, or postal unions, or both.
First, the NY Times version (my emphasis):
Postal Service Is Nearing Default as Losses MountThat $5.5 billion payment that's due on Sept. 30 is meant to finance future health care costs for retirees. Here's the Times on the cause of the Post Office's financial woes:
The United States Postal Service has long lived on the financial edge, but it has never been as close to the precipice as it is today: the agency is so low on cash that it will not be able to make a $5.5 billion payment due this month and may have to shut down entirely this winter unless Congress takes emergency action to stabilize its finances.
?Our situation is extremely serious,? the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe, said in an interview. ?If Congress doesn?t act, we will default.?
In recent weeks, Mr. Donahoe has been pushing a series of painful cost-cutting measures to erase the agency?s deficit, which will reach $9.2 billion this fiscal year. They include eliminating Saturday mail delivery, closing up to 3,700 postal locations and laying off 120,000 workers ? nearly one-fifth of the agency?s work force ? despite a no-layoffs clause in the unions? contracts.
The post office?s problems stem from one hard reality: it is being squeezed on both revenue and costs.
Mail volume has plummeted with the rise of e-mail, electronic bill-paying and a Web that makes everything from fashion catalogs to news instantly available.Wrong. The Post Office is being killed by the Obama-appointed Postmaster General. Here's Kenneth Quinnell at Crooks & Liars to explain:
United States Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe is on record as also proposing cuts to postal employees' health and pension benefits. National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando sees clear signs that Donahoe is intent on attacking the collective bargaining rights of postal workers and that he wants to "override lay-off protection provisions in the postal unions? contracts." In a recent white paper titled "Workforce Optimization," the Postal Service directly asked Congress to void lay-off protection provisions. The USPS developed its proposals without any input from NALC or any other unions.That's the proximate cause. But there's a more basic reason. Quinnell notes:
Rolando lays out the real root of the problem: "The problem lies elsewhere: the 2006 congressional mandate that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years, and do so within a decade, an obligation no other public agency or private firm faces. The roughly $5.5 billion annual payments since 2007 ? $21 billion total ? are the difference between a positive and negative ledger."
The Postal Service hasn't used any taxpayer funding for more than twenty-five years. It pays for it's operations through the sale of it's services and products. In the past four years, operational revenues at the USPS have exceeded costs by $611 million. Customer satisfaction and delivery of the mail on time are at record highs.Wonder what happened 25 years ago. Did some government-killing privatize-freak become president, or something?