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Bring Back the Pony Express (If the Market Calls for It)

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has long been a part of American history. In fact, the organization traces its history all the way back to Ben Franklin and the Second Continental Congress. However, due to the Internet, the USPS may soon be defunct. The USPS has had massive financial struggles the past few years and reality finally began to catch up to the organization when it failed to prepay the Treasury Department $5.5 billion dollars in August. The following month was slightly worse: It failed to pay another $5.6 in prepayments for the retirement benefits of its employees. Bernie Becker of The Hill writes:
In all, the agency lost $5.1 billion in fiscal 2011, even without having to make a healthcare payment. The Aug. 1, 2012, default came only after Congress pushed back the due date on that particular payment, which was originally due at the end of September 2011.
A $5 billion dollar loss in one year is bad. It’s especially bad when the taxpayers are on the hook and we’ll likely end up bailing out the organization from mismanagement. But the worst is still to come. Becker notes, the USPS “lost more than $5 billion in the most recently completed quarter.” The defaults are getting larger. So why is it that the USPS is failing? The chief reason why is because Congress created a mandate in 2006 that forced the organization to prepay for retirement benefits and healthcare costs for its employees. However, this is not the only reason why the USPS is failing. Ron Bloom remarks, “First-class mail, long the major revenue source for the Postal Service, is declining as people and businesses shift communications from paper to various electronic forms.” Bloom, I take it, would think that we need to do away with that 2006 mandate. Let the USPS decide how it wants to pay for healthcare and retirement benefits. But why should we stop there? For over 100 years, the government has been subsidizing this organization. In the meantime, the free market called for other delivery service organizations such as UPS and FedEx. And let us not forget one of the first mail-delivery services in the USA, the Pony Express. So why is it that the USPS should be supported by the taxpayers for its mismanagement while other companies don’t get taxpayer support for its good management and success? Why should the politicians and bureaucrats get to pick the winners and losers by subsidizing companies? Besides, subsidizing companies has a history of leading to inefficiency, because the organizations believe they can just get more taxpayer dollars. If private companies can do what the USPS can do, why not let the proverb, “A man reaps what he sows” hold true for both good and bad management? Since we are continually headed into a virtual and digital age, where the need for a postal service becomes less and less, why not let the free market dictate how the snail mail will be delivered? Bloom writes, “If it is to survive, the Postal Service needs to undergo a major re-think of its business model and a major restructuring of its operations and costs.” I agree. I think the best solution is for the government to cut ties with the USPS completely. If this were to come to fruition, I imagine something quite similar to the Pony Express would make a comeback. And we all know how awesome horse-delivered mail is: