“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” can keep Postal Service bureaucrats from continuing to lose billions. This month the United States Postal Service (USPS) posted it’s second quarter finances for 2015, suffering a net loss of $1.5 billion in just three months. Yet losses aside, what is most concerning is how a government-backed monopoly receiving $18 billion annually in taxpayer-backed subsidies continues to flounder financially and why it has been allowed to do so for so long.
Sadly the $1.5 billion lost from January to March is just the tip of the financial iceberg. During the same period last year net losses were actually higher at $1.9 billion. While this change could appear to some as an improvement, it is actually an incremental part of a much larger trend of financial despair that has plagued the Post Office for years.
The most recent second quarter losses mean the Post Office has now consecutively posted revenue losses 24 out of the last 26 quarters. Such an economically dismal start also puts the USPS on schedule to make 2015 the 9th consecutive year in which they have suffered multi-billion dollar losses.
In 2014 USPS found that “its total liabilities were $67.16 billion…compared with $23.16 billion in assets.” Thus it is no surprise analysts estimate the Post Office has seen over $47 billion in losses over the last decade. However, as outrageous as the losses themselves are, the USPS’s suggestions for reducing the revenue gap are even more ridiculous.
For instance, since last year USPS has actually been beta testing an amazingly illogical grocery delivery scheme in San Francisco. Additionally, just last week the USPS’s Office of Inspector General published a white paper suggesting that the Post Office could raise needed revenue by expanding it’s services to banking. Admittedly the last institution any rational consumer would want handling their finances is an institution that can’t handle it’s own finances.
The ironic aspect of these revenue schemes is that a government entity is trying to raise revenue by expanding non-core related services (groceries and banking) in order to make up revenue losses from its core services (mail delivery). This is the literal equivalent of trying to put out a fire with gasoline.
A more logical approach to improving the Post Office’s financial failures would be common sense reforms such as increasing spending transparency and accounting as well as simply focusing on the primary service it was created to provide – mail delivery.
Yet until action is taken on Capitol Hill to examine the financial shortcomings of the Postal Service, the only thing Americans can expect to be on time each year is increased waste and billions more being lost.
Photo Credit: Brian Hefele