Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Postal Service posts $3.8 billion loss in 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 4:21 p.m. ET

The U.S. Postal Service posted a $3.8 billion net loss during its fiscal year that ended in September, despite $6 billion in cost-cutting moves. Total mail volume for 2009 fell by 25.6 billion pieces, or almost 13 percent, a steep decline resulting from the national economic downturn and continued migration of communications to the Internet.

Despite cutting the equivalent of 65,000 full-time employees through buyouts and attrition, slashing transportation costs and $4 billion in financial relief provided by Congress, the Postal Service still lost $1 billion more than it did in 2008.

Worse, the Postal Service already expects 2010 mail volume will drop by another 11 billion pieces.

“I think saying it was an extremely difficult year is a bit of an understatement,” Postal Service Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett told reporters.

The Postal Service’s financial health has historically lagged national economic recoveries by two quarters, Corbett said. A strong correlation between employment levels and mail volume also suggest that volume will continue to slide down as employment levels creep back up, he said.

Postal officials will present a 2010 financial plan later this week that cuts another 93 million work hours, or the equivalent of 53,000 full-time employees, through attrition and reassignment. The new plan estimates a revenue decline of $2.2 billion and a year-end net loss of $7.8 billion.

That loss includes $5.5 billion in payments to the agency's retiree health benefits system, which is required by law. Congress cut $4 billion from the 2009 payment in September, but Postal officials wants lawmakers to make the cut permanent.

"The business model, quite frankly is broken. It doesn’t work in a declining volume scenario," Corbett said.

Postal officials will also continue pushing Congress to cut mail delivery to five days, a move that would save between $3 billion and $4 billion.

The Postal Service has already announced that it will not raise stamp prices this year. Some post offices also started selling greeting cards earlier this year in an effort to raise revenue.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 16, 2009; 3:13 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: 'Tweetup' marks Space Shuttle Atlantis launch
Next: Eye Opener: New survey on federal agencies


Why would this surprise anyone. It's a government run operation. Duh!! Even Obama said UPS and FedEx worked better.

Posted by: dlorah4 | November 16, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

What was the DoD's loss in 2009?

Posted by: geezjan | November 16, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

The USPS has been in continuous operation since the late 1700's, unlike UPS and FedEx. It still does a pretty good job, though it could certainly improve in some areas. And although it sometimes loses money, it's losses are not as bad as any of the Wall St (for-profit) banks or corporations that flame out.

Posted by: gce1356 | November 16, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey dlorah4...why don't you go and see how much it costs to just mail a letter via FedEx or UPS. Bet they charge you at least 5 times as much as the USPS and get it there in the same amount of time if not longer (unless you pay more).

I'll also offer you this choice quote from Wikipedia:

"Since its reorganization into an independent organization, the USPS has become self-sufficient and has not received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s."

Posted by: Razor04 | November 16, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

If the government cannot break even with the Postal Service, how can any thinking person believe that they could run a public-option health care system without bankrupting the country?

Posted by: JohnRice | November 16, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

FedEx and UPS are able to target the most profitable component of mail delivery (e.g., business, overnight). USPS is subject to a mandate requiring the Service to go to every address.

How much would FedEx/UPS charge if the driver had to go to every door on his or her route? Probably a bit more than the 40 or so cents the Postal Service charges.

Posted by: shsths99 | November 16, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Sell off this albatross!! I can't believe my taxes are still funding a multi-billion dollar junk mail network. Shut this crap down and use the savings toward federal deficit. This is ridiculous!

Posted by: joneshn | November 16, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

USPS loses 3.8 Billion, UPS makes 3.6 billion. Both are union companies that pay good wages and benefits.

Posted by: Big_Willie100 | November 16, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

It won't be long before a first class stamp is $1.

There is no need for the USPS now that we have e-mail. Everything can be digitized and sent essentially for free--without waiting 3-days or more for delivery.

The USPS could remain solvent if they would cash-in on the digital revolution and offer scanners for people to digitise their documents and send them. All utility bills should now be digital.

Posted by: maphound | November 16, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

And these are the same folks the Democrats would have running healthcare. Medicare and Social Security's $60 trillion in unfunded liabilities and decades of government fiscal mismanagement and ineptitude argue against the insanity of H.R. 3962 (Obamacare).

Posted by: alchartreux | November 16, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

1) It is illegal to directly compete with USPS. UPS and FEDEX are not trying to execute daily home delivery.

2) DoD does not have a revenue stream and is not touted as a 'business'.

3) If a bank losses billions it should go bankrupt(I blame both dems and reps), USPS has a federal mandate to deliver mail(Thanks Ben Franklin).

4) The question is do we still need a postal service or just a scaled down version? Franklins argument to connect rural communities still holds as a reason for a postal service.

5) Can we accept that the post office either offers a service for the public good or is a business. Let's stop pretending, either fund through normal appropriations or dissolve.

Posted by: cadlecreek1 | November 16, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

USPS, Social Security, Medicare, etc., etc., etc.
Please hurry and take over my health care ASAP!!!! NOT!!!!

Posted by: dkidwell61 | November 16, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

"And these are the same folks the Democrats would have running healthcare."

I think I missed the part where the postmaster general takes over the nation's health system.

Posted by: texanpotomac | November 16, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

What was the DoD's loss in 2009?

Posted by: geezjan | November 16, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

You are not really that thick are you!!?? I mean you do understand that the DOD is not run as a business, with P&L's, and is a requirement under the Constitution.

Posted by: dkidwell61 | November 16, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Postmaster General William Bolger once set up a team to study the benefit of USPS becoming a self-insurer with regard to employee health insurance.

Surprise, surprise, they discovered that the price they'd have to pay was a tad more than OPM gets with its bidding system all over the country (on behalf of all federal employees).

That should answer the question of just how much USPS probably wants to be put in charge of anyone's health care ~ they don't even like to carry those little envelopes with your "stool samples" FUR SHUR.

Now, regarding "losing money when mail volumes decline", that did happen. They lost money. They didn't go bankrupt. General Motors went bankrupt. Chrysler went bankrupt. Whole lot of other large companies went bankrupt.

There's a difference. Notice that the USPS guys cut costs by $6 billion. Did you see GM do that?

No doubt there are other cuts that can be made ~ on the other hand USPS needs a better system for "detecting" major changes in the direction of mail volume growth or decline.

The old system was wrong over 99% of the time ~ a variant I developed was ALWAYS correct. Rather than fix the old system top management at the time decided to simply eliminate the data reporting system that could be analyzed to see if mail volumes were in the process of growing or declining.

Interesting, eh? These guys are smart in some things and so utterly stupid in others. You'd think they'd care about the fact they were losing mail volume hand over fist!

Posted by: muawiyah | November 16, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

What company when losing money cuts back on services to their customers? I support allowing the UPS to go to 0 days delivery per week. Furlough all the post office employees and put delivery of mail out to bid.

Posted by: WRY999 | November 16, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm struck by the ideological simplicity of several posts in this thread... they amount to "government = bad" "private enterprise = good".

What just happened to the country over the past year? Oh, yeah, deregulated financial markets (free market capitalism) that just about destroyed the nation's economy.

There's a host of government run programs, including Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, not to mention local police, fire, library, and public utilities, that have proven themselves invaluable to the general welfare.

We need to take a critical look at both private corporate excesses and problematic government programs, but not paint everything with this giant brushstroke--or believe that the marketplace is the solution. There were several thoughtful and well-informed posts here explaining that the USPS is not taxpayer supported; that the postal service provides national coverage for everyone; the UPS and Fedex get the lucrative package market; etc.

I, for one, would much rather have "government-run" health care than leave it in the hands of the private insurance companies whose profit-seeking has destroyed the health and well being of too many Americans. Note: single-payer insurance is different from socialized medicine.

I also think it's telling that the critics of the government dump on social welfare programs, but don't equally criticize corporate dominated *government* defense bloat, trillions in lost revenue to overseas military mis-adventures, etc.

Posted by: Astrogal | November 16, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

UPS showed the Post Office how to deliver packages overnight and make a huge profit.Why not let them or FedEx take over the mail delivery?Government has proven they can't manage anything.

Posted by: LDTRPT25 | November 16, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

It would be educational to put the Post Office operations out for bids -- one without restrictions, the other with the various restrictions under which the Post Office operates (below market rates for certain things, e.g.,
"talking books" for the blind and publications, and post offices and mail service in areas whose "thin" population does not economically support the facilities and operations).

Oh yes, both bids should have to include health care insurance and retirement and other benefits like those available to Members of Congress.

Posted by: jimb | November 16, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

go to 3 day a week service and focus on people becoming paper free by using the internet and email. Mail is outdated and is nothing but trash mail anymore. I'm tired of the junk everyday. All it's good for is saving up to start my fireplace with.

Posted by: unreal3 | November 16, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

But unlike every existing government program, health care reform will make money. They promised us it would, again. This time they're telling the truth, really. wink-wink

Posted by: panola60 | November 16, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Have there been studies of privatizing the postal service? Maybe as a loosely regulated busineses, or several businesees? Possibly package delivery could be farmed out to exiting companies such as FedEx nd/or Airborne.
Hopefully, do away with required delivery of "junk mail."

Posted by: jmf3210 | November 16, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we can just move people over to the government's newest inefficient bureaucracy:

Health Care.

Posted by: postfan1 | November 16, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

How is this a surprise?

Have you been to a Post Office lately? Broken machines, long lines, and clerks who have a BIG "don't give a rip" attitude. They really care more about their break than serving the next customer.

Posted by: Revcain777 | November 16, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse


Note that anticipated future EXPENSES didn't go down. They're just asking for permission to ignore the inevitable.

The WaPo would do their readers a far greater service if they would write clearly about these things. This is clearly setting it up to saddle taxpayers with the bill while making the PO's books look better.

Posted by: jeannebee | November 16, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Given exponentially increased use of email, online banking and websites for magazines previously delivered by mail, a loss would be expected.

They need to reorganize to deal with reduced, reconfigured demand for services.

Posted by: wasted | November 16, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

And these are the people we want to run health care????

Posted by: Revcain777 | November 16, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the USPS could save some money by their folks not being able to retire many years prior to most folks. They not only can retire early but receive a great guaranteed annuity and cheap health insurance. Why can't these folks work until 65 like the rest of us??

Posted by: fearturtle44 | November 16, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Wow.....!! A really great example of a "public/government run" business......

Gee whiz can't wait for this great health care reform bill to pass.....(insert eye roll)

........Now Americans are remembering why the Democrats had been out of power for so long.............INCOMPETENT.....SLOPPY......SAD

Posted by: allenridge | November 16, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Someone please point this out to Obama and his healthcare soldiers.

It's the perfect example of what happens when you try to do everything for everybody at an artifically low and unsustainable cost.

Posted by: rickingj | November 16, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Revcain: a couple of months ago I noticed the stamp vending machine had disappeared from the post office lobby. I used to use it frequently after hours.

I politely asked the clerk why it was gone.

He leaned forward with a kind of sheepish look and whispered: "It was costing too many jobs".

Cross my heart. True story. He didn't even see the irony in what he was saying.

Posted by: jeannebee | November 16, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

The USPS is just one of many industries adjusting the effects of the internet on their business model. But why keep this dinosaur alive? What's the big deal if they cut service to even less that 5 days a week. All they deliver is junk mail anyway. When are we going to accept reality and respond to changes in a timely and efficient way instead throwing tax dollars down the toilet.

Posted by: lnbee | November 16, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The USPS is just one of many industries adjusting the effects of the internet on their business model. But why keep this dinosaur alive? What's the big deal if they cut service to even less that 5 days a week. All they deliver is junk mail anyway. When are we going to accept reality and respond to changes in a timely and efficient way instead throwing tax dollars down the toilet.

Posted by: lnbee | November 16, 2009 4:38 PM

I don't want to see people lose jobs but the Postal Service is a "dinosaur" Its kind of like a public telephone booth.

Posted by: MILLER123 | November 16, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

"You are not really that thick are you!!?? I mean you do understand that the DOD is not run as a business, with P&L's, and is a requirement under the Constitution."
Posted by: dkidwell61 | November 16, 2009 4:11 PM

Who is the one who is "thick"?

U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8:
"To establish Post Offices and post Roads;"

It's called the Postal SERVICE for a reason. It should be treated just like the DoD and not run as a for profit business. It provides a service to the citizens of the country.

Posted by: geezjan | November 16, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Take my regular mail carrier please. She collects daily OVERTIME on a route that subs deliver in a 8 hour day. Calls to the postmaster... well... she's still collecting OT.

Posted by: whocares666 | November 16, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Deliver main every other day. We don't need mail delivery six days a week. My junk mail can wait.

Posted by: jethro1 | November 16, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Sure shows we need to jump into Federally funded health care for all. Heck let's just screw it all up.

Posted by: affirmativeactionpresident | November 16, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I buy about 12 stamps a year now.
It's not about the recession, its about the Internet. I wouldn't miss saturday delivery. If it weren't for NetFlix and junk mail, USPS wouldn't have much of any biz.

Posted by: rjma1 | November 16, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm a mailing store owner handling USPS and UPS. If the US Mail really wants to cut costs, they could focus on their core strengths -- home/business delivery, routing and transportation between hubs. Keep the bulk, magazine, and postal delivery. Keep the rural offices.

Give the counter service out to the independent mailing service store owner. The number of local offices would be at least tripled and post office profits greatly increase.

I pay my counter help much less that the Post Office. Give me a discount on mailing services so I can sell the services at rates near current Post Office retail rates (instead of having to markup retail USPS prices to cover my costs) and pickup the mail I get as a drop point instead of having me drive it to the post office. I already do a lot of business for the post office and don't make much money on it. I'm sure it would increase greatly if I simply could lower my USPS retail prices. Plus people avoid the proverbial lines. Everyone wins.

Posted by: WalterGr | November 16, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I like the fact that the USPS is mandated to run as a business. It keeps it lean. For the USPS to compete in the 21st c. however, it either needs to (a) cut costs, (b) raise prices, or (c) innovate. As email effectively continues to take market share from the USPS, it's virtually impossible for the institution to keep up in the long run. Raising prices certainly will bring more revenue, but it probably will drive consumers away. Time to innovate? (On another note ... I'm not interested in paying higher taxes to fund junk mail delivery. What a crock that would be.)

Posted by: Hoogineer | November 16, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

PS - for those that think the PostOffice receives no federal money, read the article again. It says the PO got $4 billion relief (in their obligations) from Congress. As a mailing store owner, I get *no* federal subsidy (and in fact pay income tax on my profits from reselling US Mail services).

Posted by: WalterGr | November 16, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I agree the reader who injected the DoD into this discussion. I am very curious about his questions which was: what was the DoD's loss for 2009?

Our Defense Department is a wholly owned subsidiary of America's defense contractors and the drug lords of Mexico. Although all of us pay for DoD's overhead, corporations are the only ones benefitting from them. If you are wondering where this idea comes from, you haven't been reading the news for a few decades.

Our soldiers (staff) are dying while supplying muscle and support services (bang bang) for our overseas oil corporations (Iraq) and to keep the Afghan opium producers from lowering world heroin prices.

The difference between the USPS and the DoD is that Americans can do something about the USPS (shut it down, make it more efficient). Americans are powerless to do anything about the DoD, except shovel increasingly more money and bodies down its fathomless throat.

I'm all for outsourcing our entire military; we could pay for that with taxes on the bloated oil industry. Then would could take a tiny fraction of the savings to provide decent, affordable health care to all of our citizens like every other civilized nation in the world has done for decades.

This USPS stuff is but a distraction from the real issues of the day.

Posted by: JC505 | November 16, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Astrogal ~ no one deregulated the financial markets. In fact, agents of the US government used a law passed by the Clintonistas to FORCE lending institutions to make so-called "NINJA" loans.

You don't see any of the Congresscritters involved in that piece of nonsense asking to impose NEW regulations on the financial markets ~ that'd negagte that old law that allowed them to destroy America's economy.

Now, regarding the idea the USPS should or can be privatized, I have such a plan and keep it handy for discussions like these if you'd like.

It's got about as much material as the Obamista health care BS.

But it links together into a good read ~

So, you wanna' talk POST OFFICE or FANNIE MAE?

Posted by: muawiyah | November 16, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

While the Post Master General earned $800,000 no less. Where's the outrage?!

I can't WAIT until they sink health care.
Democrats can't do anything right.

Posted by: factsmatter1 | November 16, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

The big difference between the Post Office and the Health Insurance Industry is once you buy a stamp they will deliver the letter, when you buy health insurance they very often don't deliver on what you paid for.

Give me a government funded health care system similar to Canada and Europe any day over the thieving crooks in the insurance industry.

Posted by: rcubedkc | November 16, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Aside from "migration to the Internet," the article reported no reason for such loss. Do all other countries' mail systems also operate at a loss?

Why is our country's postal service not able to operate a mail system with what revenues it already gets?

Posted by: tncdel | November 16, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I can not understand why the postal system loses money. Today I mailed a pair of corduroy pants weighing 1 lb 3 oz to Minnesota. Cost? $7.10. I could mail the same item to England for only a few more dollars.

In many private sector businesses, job applicants' personal finances are investigated before hiring. It is time for the government to require the same of all individuals making decisions and running agencies that are government funded.

Posted by: sdl63 | November 16, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey lets let the government take over the banks, car companies, insurance companies, doctors, nurses, hospitals, pension funds etc.

Then lets add a great big energy tax and then...lets hold the terrorist trials in federal court and lets do it in NY!

Lets wait on sending more troops to Afghanistan until the senate votes on the "health care bill" though so we don't loose the liberal vote.

And for as the poor Nidal Hasan situation goes... wait until I get back from my Asian trip! Hey did you hear I bowed to the emperor of Japan? That ought to drive the non-progressives crazy.

Posted by: Straightline | November 16, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I continue to use the USPS by paying my bills through the mail using stamps. But, I am getting fed up that my packages all comes crushed as if dragged by a conveyor belt. It seems that when one place FRAGILE or HANDLE WITH CARE, it becomes a clue for them to wreck havoc on packages. I do not know how long I will put up with it.

Posted by: truth1 | November 16, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Part of the whole "commercial" type requirements for the post office includes a more "commercial" set of supplier relationships -- HENCE, NOT PUBLIC/OPEN COMPETITIVE BIDDING like the DoD or other government services. I wonder what cozy corporations are making a bundle off of the tax payers -- with the assurance that the public will never be able to look in close enough to see the harvesting of our dollars??

Posted by: muggzzi | November 16, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure if anyone from the Post Office will read this, but I've wanted to say this for some time now.

I live in a condo building with 250 residence in a urban Northern VA setting. For years the building has had one person come and distribute the mail every day and another person come and collect it from the mail box outside.

This year they took away the mail box to send outgoing mail.

I'm still baffled. Of all the possible options for streamlining and saving choose the one that actually limits a customers ability to use your service/give you money. As opposed to maybe having the same guy that delivers the mail pick it up?

The post office is a fair walk away, there don't seem to be any mail boxes anywhere these days, so I simply use the US postal system less.

You need to make some changes and you need to make them soon, but a fundamental thing....don't make it impossible for clients to actually give you money!

Posted by: Merlin5 | November 16, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

razor04 is an unobservant commenter. The article reports a four billion dollar bit of "financial relief" from taxpayers. That's a gift or a subsidy or whatever you want to call it. It is not the first and certainly not the last. I get sick at seeing my $60K mail person deliver my mail (which also gets freely misdelivered around the hood like other people's mail.) And the service at our post office is as rude as you could imagine. Cut salaries by 25 percent for starters. Few will walk. Oh, I forgot, that is politically impossible.

Posted by: axolotl | November 16, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

The number of people trying to tie USPS with health care reform is symptomatic of how complex policy issues have been reduced to slogans shouted by simpletons.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | November 16, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I have never found long lines or anything unbecoming ever by going to a United States Post Office. And many, if not all, of the employees I dealt with were efficent, helpful and friendly. It is pathetic that FedEx and UPS and other services have taken away so much of the services that the Post Office offered. How can it compete with Big Business?

And who (or what agency) is the genius in the government who brought the internet into being in the first place? He or them just may be the great destroyer of our economy and will have contributed to, along with all those greedy folks we have been reading about, this planet's economic demise.

And the United States Post Office does not just deliver junk mail, thank you. I do not use the internet from which to pay my bills. That's all I need is for some jerk to get ahold of my bank accounts' numbers. No thank you. I like getting parcel post packages delivered, like Avon products from my friend, who has very few clients and who has been unemployed for 3 years with no health insurance; I like receiving real letters from friends, and real birthday and holiday cards from friends (don't you just hate all those emailed cards that are so heartlessly impersonal and don't mean ****), and I like getting real bills. I like to see hard paper copies of my bills and invoices, thank you. And I like stamps, thank you!

Remember there is a real need for bookstores, too. Or are we so smart that we know ALL the books that are being published each year? And isn't it great that we can go and see the books, touch them, review them, and enjoy "shopping" and mingling with other people? Shopping with Amazon is so sterile. And I never use eBay -- I don't know where those products have been, ugh.

So please don't give me any hard-hearted "let 'em fold" crap because it is unrealistic and in very poor taste. There is a real need for the Post Office and I for one could not live without its services.

Posted by: hello2012 | November 16, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

The funding of DoD, the patent office, the courts, and the post office are all Article I, Section 8 responsibilities of the Congress under the U.S. Constitution.

So why does the post office alone need to turn a profit, while the DoD, patent office, and courts don't?

Posted by: geezjan | November 16, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

The loss is due to the high postal salaries and above average benefits.

Posted by: thmak | November 16, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

AGAIN, Bigger Govt. is NOT the solution, Bigger Govt. IS the PROBLEM !!!

Posted by: thgirbla | November 16, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

WOW!? - Sounds like We-the-People need to take over the U.S. Post Office from the U.S. Post Office!? - They are worse than CIT, Goldman Sachs, and AIG combined!! Don't Raise the $price of a First-Class Stamp! Instead Lower it. And lay off some of these unneeded, un-necessary goof-offs! Entry level at the USPS should be at a mandatory MINIMUM $WAGE!! - Now,- Big $Bucks can be made at the USPSO by working Over-Time, whenever an employee feels like it!$ Why are they a $for-Profit entity? - These USPS JOBS should be for the Citizens Living in POVERTY! - Temporary 4-6 year positions, until re-trained, and/or schooled to move into one of those many JOBS that Our Congress is currently creating!

Posted by: jward52 | November 16, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

"I think I missed the part where the postmaster general takes over the nation's health system."

Posted by: texanpotomac

Get yourself a dictionary -- it's called "analogizing" with respect to the general ineptitude and fiscal profligacy of the federal government, as exemplified by the mismanagement of federal agencies and entitlement programs. Clear now, genius?

Posted by: alchartreux | November 16, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Please read the AstroGal comments. I think they are great info. Additions: the Post Office delivers from anywhere to anywhere for the same price. They don't charge you $10 to deliver your letter to Anchorage, Alaska. They deliver to out-of-the way places like that at a loss. And if they find out that you will get sick and die if the mail is not delivered, they won't raise the price. Can you hear me, Ayn Rand?

Posted by: ACounter | November 16, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

My frustration with my local post office has been growing as USPS has been cutting corners by eliminating useful tools for customers while other areas of waste go unchecked. The USPS is a commercial delivery service just as UPS and FedEx are. Problem is USPS is run like a government agency instead of a business. They are constantly trying to market gimicks like stuffed animals for the kids while the automated kiosks to mail small packages and letters were eliminated because they were too costly to maintain. Then they cut their hours so that it is impossible to get to the post office after work. They slammed the door on their customers at a time when they needed them most. The holidays are upon us as is USPS busiest season. What is the USPS going to do to capitolize on on the holiday season and recoup some of the losses in taxpayer money? I doubt that there is much of a strategy while they continue to operate at a loss. Bring in a consultant from the commercial delivery industry that will guide them to being a break even business if not profitable.

Posted by: mjoy | November 16, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

>>The Postal Service has already announced that it will not raise stamp prices this year.<<

This year is almost gone. You mean NEXT year.

Posted by: RossPhx | November 16, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

You Americans should be grateful for having such a great Postal Service. In many places outside the US mails never reach their destination; and if they ever do, they do so censored.

Even though I don't at all understand those who want it to be shut down and agree to pay higher prices for FedEx or UPS instead, they should be given the choice of doing so. Upon their choice, they should be able to become social outcasts; they wouldn't pay taxes and they would also be banned from using public goods/services. Just let the cowboys live in jungles and shoot one another!

Posted by: Phraates | November 16, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

The U.S. Postal Service is government run. That's all that needs to be said. Let's turn our mail system over to private enterprise such as FedEx and/or UPS who already have the infrastructure to handle the business. Open the bidding now. The new owner(s)can buy the present Post Office locations, keep the ones they deem necessary, and sell off the rest. They would also likely keep the best people who already work for the USPS.It will stimulate the economy!

Posted by: calabash2 | November 16, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

UNIONS: the only ones that don't DIE are taxpayer Supported ... Government Employees / Contracts ... new taxes

- US Steel
- Bethlehem Steel
- Magnavox TV

... GM / Chrysler ... are Walking DEAD

Posted by: highkey11 | November 16, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Union's demand for entitlements (pensions w/ COLAS) is the USPS killer.. however I'm feeling generous.. Double the price for a stamp.. The USPS had no way of planning for the rapid online bill payments adopted by the US consumers. As a Republican, I like the service..

Posted by: genbarlow | November 16, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

"All they deliver is junk mail anyway." Posted by: lnbee | November 16, 2009 4:38 PM ==
lnbee, like so many others on this comment thread, is living in his dream world so divorced from reality, it's somewhere in the Astroid Belt.
We live in a mid-sized city (about 100K population) and 98 percent of our bills come in the mail.
We subscribe to several publications which also come by mail.
We pay our bills by check, which also goes through the mail.
(We don't pay by Internet because we don't feel like messing with credit/debit cards and their extra charges to do so.)
I used to work for a lawyer; they absolutely depend on registered mail for receiving specialized legal documents.
If he and the others on this thread read the rest of the comments, they would discover that the USPS is enshrined in the Constitution.
For a reason.
Ben Franklin knew how important this means of communication is to the functioning of the country.
The way we live applies even more to outlying rural areas.
My sister lives in a small village about 30 miles away where the second-largest employer is the Post Office.
They aren't just slightly dependent on getting their mail on time; they absolutely are.
They don't have Internet usage except by dial-up; there is no broadband service available out there except HughesNet, which is very expensive and beyond the reach of most.
I have no problem with WalterGr's proposals.
I think he's on target for the services that should be split off in the big cities.
The Postal Service has been privitized; it's a public-private partnership.
Like a utility, however, it's necessary to maintain business today.
These so-called conservatives haunting WaPo would "conserve" this country right into the ground, if we let them.
We can't afford them any more.
Look what they cost us the last 8 years.
They sunk the country and these idiots want to wreak more carnage?
I don't think so.
There is no doubt some Democrats in Congress have been corrupted.
But there's also no doubt that ALL Republicans in Congress stink of corruption.
It's going to take a bit of voter will, but we Democrats will bring those pseudos in line, or they will pay the piper.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | November 16, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

jward52 ~ hi John. Great to see you're outta' stir or wherever you got stuffed!

Most of these people don't know us.

There are a number of them though who worry me a lot. They actually don't believe postal workers should know how to read!

Posted by: muawiyah | November 16, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Another government program going belly-up. No one is surprised.

Posted by: dacyzyn | November 16, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

What do you expect when the US Postal Service -BUT NONE OF THEIR COMPETITION - is FORCED to sort, carry and deliver the billions of tons of JUNK MAIL???????

Posted by: lufrank1 | November 16, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

The mail service is a good value and reliable, cancel service in Tuesday or Saturday for added savings...need to revisit the wage stucture going forward to help make the system more cost effective.
good luck

Posted by: onthejourney | November 16, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

The WP really ought to reprimand this reporter. He deliberately omitted the following facts:
ONLY the Post Office HAS TO sort and deliver billions of tons of Junk mail TO EVERY ADDRESS in the United States.
UPS, FedEx, and the other "private" services would be bankrupt in a single day if they had to to THAT!

Posted by: lufrank1 | November 16, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

1. Cut Saturday delivery.

2. Raise the price of junk mail by 1000%.

3. Have an IPO and try to sell it off. Maybe Fedex could run it at a profit.

4. Maybe everyone could just pick up their mail at the nearest Walgreens, McDonalds, or Starbucks.

Posted by: jazbond007 | November 16, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Under Bush we spent $3.8 billion a week in Iraq. Tell me how that money isn't lost?

Posted by: rodneythecat | November 16, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

I thought we were all supposed to be happily employed building shovel ready windmills by now.

Posted by: georgejones5 | November 16, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Not that I personally send much snail mail, but I'm glad I bought $50 worth of "forever" stamps a few years ago.

Posted by: BO__Stinks | November 16, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

A few facts omitted from the conversation to date merit a fair hearing. I was able to learn about this "up close and personal".

Where USPS and private enterprise differ is that when private enterprise faces declining markets, they have the freedom to cut unprofitable operations or reduce the number of facilities they operate... WITHOUT every local, state or national politician going ballistic, saying "you can't close that Plant" or "If you close that Post Office" my constituents will have to walk 6 blocks to visit another one, or buy stamps at the drugstore and drop mail in a Blue Collection Box. Just don't lose Billions. FIgure it out.

If USPS cannot operate their network in a flexible, dynamic and efficient manner, what you'll see in the future is more of the same.

Oddly enough, when the Auto Industry was being taken over, they MANDATED the closure of profitable, local dealerships that employed many and paid taxes because... well, I forget what song and dance they gave us about that.

But in this case, it would be the right thing to encourage, not block at every turn. Even better, being able to right-size their vast national operations will provide better service in many key dimensions.

I say let Mr. Potter package up and deliver USPS 2.0 without clinging to unrealistic and impractical political demands that they rapidly adapt to the present reality without making any meaningful changes.

Posted by: dbsinOakRidge | November 16, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Well, MBA postal geniuses:
1. Where can one mail a letter?
2. To get mail in parts of Va one has to walk a half a mile to get "service"
3. People can now hack into U.S. Office boxes and steal mail. NO Kidding, just the other day, the local police caught someone doing just than outside of my apartment complex. These are U.S. Postal Service Boxes!
4.Seven days for first class mail
5. In 1968 a 7 cent airmail stamp gave one, one to two day delivery from Philadelphia to San Francisco. Now, the most expense rate, one can't be sure of that. At least they have tracking numbers....
6. Certified does not have tracking numbers, and so signed legal documents can get.... guess what lost.
7, People leave their mail trucks open and unlocked all time, When I worked there, this would get you fired, fined, and maybe even sent to prison.

This was the most secure system, the pride of America, has been reduced to a sea of ineptitude, careless, and " professional business management".

Posted by: peterroach | November 16, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Sure, the government royally screwed up Fannie and Freddie, and USPS is a disaster. And Amtrak is a welfare queen.

But hey -- I'm sure ObamaCare will be different.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | November 16, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to hear the hue and cry from Republicans, if Democrats were to advocate getting rid of something specifically called for (as the USPS is) in Article One of the US Constitution.

The founders, by the way, never envisioned the USPS as a profit-making entity. That little change was introduced by Republican president Richard Nixon in 1970.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | November 16, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Under Bush we spent $3.8 billion a week in Iraq. Tell me how that money isn't lost?

Posted by: rodneythecat

Bush wasted money drove up the national debt; Obama is doing the same; except he focuses on different, but no less ill-conceived, initiatives. By your logic, we should allow Obama to continue on a path of fiscal profligacy and imprudence because Bush did it too. That makes a lot of sense...

Posted by: alchartreux | November 16, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

John Potter hires filthy consultants paying them massive dollars, while inflicting pain on the letter carriers...the people who do the work. Potter hired a scumbag from Accenture named Pranab Shah to run operations who got a lot of letter carriers fired, but couldn't get operation costs down because his dumb@ss models never worked. BTW, did I tell you that Pranab Shah was a die hard republican?

Posted by: playa_brotha | November 16, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Why would this surprise anyone. It's a government run operation. Duh!! Even Obama said UPS and FedEx worked better.Posted by: dlorah4 | November 16, 2009 3:31 PM |

Most people who have access to a computer find it much easier to communicate that way and pay their bills. People use cell phones and e-mail to talk across the country. It is easier and faster. Funny how the post office was perfectly fine and well run until people began using computers. Stop trying to make like every government entity is bad for this country. It is only bad if it fits the Republican mantra. You don't see Republicans running away from running our awful government now do you?

Posted by: catmomtx | November 16, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

The problem is the pension plan.

If the Social Security retirement age can be increased - so can the age at which government workers can begin drawing their pensions.

Let them wait until 62 or 68 like the rest of us.

Posted by: b1978367 | November 16, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I wouldn't care if they only delivered mail once or twice a week. With a minimum of adjustment I'm sure I could live comletely happily without the USPS. While I still get about half my bills in paper mostly as a reminder, I rarely pay anything through the mail. And, I don't think I've written a letter since the early 1990s. The USPS will be completely obsolete in 10 years.

Posted by: hit4cycle | November 16, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

So what? $3.8 billion is less than one week's cost of our Iraq and Afghan occupations.

Posted by: hairguy01 | November 16, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Let's see...first they increase the ranks of the unemployed by 65,000 and then post a multi-billion dollar loss. Are you as anxious as I am for the government to take over 1/6th of our economy? What won't the liberals do to guarantee what they see as a permanent majority by tethering us to the public teat health-wise and legalizing criminal immigrants? Be afraid.

Posted by: ddnfla | November 16, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

ddnfla wrote, "Be afraid."

Sorry, Chicken Little. I'll take a pass on that.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | November 16, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Residential customers could easily survive with THREE deliveries per week. Get some stones guys.

Posted by: LHO39 | November 16, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, the top echelon of the Post Office should be fired. They continue continue to run a losing business and they don't seem to care or they cut at the wrong place i.e. at the bottom. If they would wake up and stop protecting their rear ends, maybe some profit-minded executives could/should/would run things better. Cutting services is NOT the answer. Why are the private sector such as FedEx, UPS, doing much better with parcel delivery. Let the post office have cargo planes to do the same thing, cut the parcel post rates and COMPETE! Why is the Post Office using those private sector operations to handle the mail. That's why they are losing money.

Posted by: cqbrodie | November 16, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Really, postal employees need their salaries cut by 25% until they show some pride in maintaining taxpayer owned post offices. The conditions of the physical assets, of course, out side of D.C. are mostly deplorable. If they don't have enough pride to keep the buildings and grounds in shape, then show them the door or give one of our pampered Congressman a broom and mop.

Posted by: wesatch | November 16, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm very happy with the service I receive from the USPS. When I main a letter, it typically gets to its destination in a day or two. I have no complaints!

Posted by: SF271 | November 16, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

SF271 wrote, "I'm very happy with the service I receive from the USPS. When I main a letter, it typically gets to its destination in a day or two. I have no complaints!"

I agree. If it weren't for Republicans trying to bend facts to fit their preconceived beliefs, the USPS is one of the marvels of the world in terms of its service, delivering to virtually every residence in the USA 6 days a week, losing virtually no mail, and delivering the vast majority of first class letters within 1 to 3 days.

Republicans need to dismantle that before people catch on that it's giving the lie to their pre-recorded speech about how inefficient government must always be.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | November 16, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

While the USPS is a government operation to some extent, Congress basically sets the rates and governs its practices. If it was allowed to do what Fed Ex and UPS do, it would not lose money. The claim that it is another bad government operation is just so much propaganda. Medicare is more efficient than an insurance company. If the USPS was allowed to operate as Medicare, they could put UPS and Fed Ex out of business. Congress sets the rules not the market place.

Posted by: irvings1 | November 16, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Obamacare will yield the same results...dem libs unleashed with power, but absolutely no intelligence. 2010 will start the "reset" and 2012 will complete it. Enjoy your time in will be short lived.

Posted by: powerange | November 16, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

The post office was mandated by Congress to pre-pay its retiree health benefits. It is the only federal agency with this mandate. Why?
Although snail mail is decreasing, ensuring that people in all parts of the country, and not just in urban centers, can send cards and packages at reasonable rates is important to maintaining the relationships that bind our society together. Every time I go to the post office in New York, any post office in New York, there is always a line, in a testament to the need for the services, whether mail or not, the post office provides.

Posted by: Zoe_Sullivan | November 16, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

joneshn: apparently,you know nothing about the Postal Service. Not one tax dollar goes to support the Postal Service,and before what you wish for comes true,think about this. The Postal Service is mandated to provide universal service to everyone,at the same price. If it is privatized,the companies will divvy up the profitable parts(high-rise densely populated buildings) and avoid sparsely populated places,i.e. many people wouldn't get ANY mail delivery,OR they would charge an exorbitant amount to do it! Also,every year that the Postal Service posted a profit,that profit was "appropriated" for other NON profitable branches. Yes, they robbed Peter to pay Paul. People that slam the Postal Service,I find,generally are unaware of how it is run.

Posted by: kjjmac | November 17, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

dkidwell61: what's your name so I can have you taken off the list of welfare,Social Security,or Medicare recipients list?

Posted by: kjjmac | November 17, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company