The USPS: A Business or a Welfare Organization?

In our oped in the Chicago Tribune yesterday, Maurice McTigue and I argue that Congress needs to decide if it wants the USPS to be an independent business or a taxpayer-supported welfare organization.

Currently Congress wants to have its cake and eat it too – it wants to maintain the government controlled quasi-monopoly over postal delivery but it also wants USPS to operate as a profitable competitive organization. Striving to have the USPS operate in this sort of middle ground will simply not work.

From our oped:

In order for the USPS to operate as a business and become profitable, Congress needs to allow it to make the same decisions every private-sector business makes, which includes choosing the location of its assets, closing post offices, laying off workers and competitively pricing its services. This also means the USPS should not be allowed to borrow from the government or receive written guarantees.

Given the current fiscal problems stemming from the already overcommitted welfare system in the United States, creating another one is simply not an option. If instead, Congress were to remove the barriers to postal delivery, it would allow the USPS to restructure itself into a 21st century organization – an organization that could provide an improved quality of service at competitive prices.


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About Ben VanMetre

Ben VanMetre is an MA Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Before joining Mercatus, Ben earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Beloit College where he double majored in Economics and Management and Psychology. His research interests include international and state-based development issues, entrepreneurship, institutional arrangements, and economic freedom. His work has appeared in Forbes, Economic Affairs, the Cato Journal, the Journal of Business and Economic Perspectives, the Journal of the James Madison Institute, the Free Market Foundation, and the second volume of the Wealth and Wellbeing of Nations.