By Larry Penner
Complaints by Queens Congress members Joe Crowley, Grace Meng and Gregory Meeks to Postmaster General Megan Brennan concerning problems with delivery of mail to constituents offer no solutions (“Queens pols fight for better USPS service” Naeisha Rose, Feb. 2).
All three Congress members need to consider providing regulatory relief for reforms which could assist the Post Office in providing better services. The United States Post Office averaged quarterly losses of $550 million in 2017. This will now result in the price of a first class stamp going up by a penny from 49 cents to 50 cents later this year.
One wonders why they first decreased the price of a first class stamp from 49 cents to 47 cents, before bringing it back to 49 cents. Part of the problem is that Congress in 2006 mandated that the Post Office fully fund 75 years of retirement benefits for employees. This has contributed billions to the Post Office’s long-term debt. While many private and other public retirement plans are underfunded, the Post Office’s is vastly overfunded. It is time for Congress to amend legislation and afford the Post Office ability to fund its retirement plan at a more reasonable level.
There are other initiatives which could assist the Postal Service in avoiding frequent postage stamp increases. The Post Office should continue with more joint business ventures like Amazon in expanding Sunday delivery. This could be the start of something big. Taking advantage of underutilized assets and facilities on Sunday could generate badly needed revenues. This would assist in developing alternatives to increasing the price of first class stamps every few years.
Why not consider going after other available untapped potential revenue streams? Consider these untapped sources to reduce operating deficits and perhaps even turn a small profit. The US Postal Service could sell advertising space on the sides of mailboxes, inside and outside the post offices along with the small Jeeps, regular trucks and heavy-duty long-haul trucks. Sell off some of the valuable real estate and move to less expensive locations.
Why not join banks and fast-food restaurants that sublet space at Wal-Mart and other big box stores to open smaller post offices? Generate both revenue and customers by subletting excess capacity at underutilized post offices to other village, town, county, city, state or federal agencies along with private sector businesses. License corporations to sponsor stamps for a fee.
Have members of Congress including Crowley, Meeks and Meng, State Legislatures and other elected officials pay the real, full costs for their annoyingly frequent bulk-rate mailings to constituents. They are nothing more than free re-election campaign brochures subsidized by taxpayers. Charge the full price for all junk mail. Future increases in the price of stamps should be directly tied to inflation.
The Post Office should apply free-enterprise solutions to provide a more cost-effective product, reduce deficits and prevent more branches from closing, thus keeping its commitment to serve the public well.