To the editor:
In recent weeks, the Deseret News has published articles about cutbacks and reductions in postal service. Perhaps a review of history will explain why the Postal Service should be removed from the federal budget.The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 was a reform fueled by years of congressional control of postal funding levels and capital expenditures political meddling that produced a badly antiquated, under-funded system.
In accordance with its mandate to operate like a business, the Postal Service was removed from the federal budget in fiscal year 1974.
And "off budget" is where the USPS remained until 1985, when then-OMB Director, David Stockman, pulled it back into the federal budget so that the service's periodic surpluses could be used to create the illusion that the enormous Reagan deficits were lessened. This was a complete betrayal of postal reform.
In short, then, taking the Postal Service off budget would simply be returning it to its prior status. But there's more to it than that.
What is really at stake here? The Founding Fathers saw the provision of postal services as a primary federal activity, a power of Congress, ahead even of creating courts and declaring war and maintaining a Navy.
The Postal Board of Governors long ago, after detailed study mandated by Congress declared the USPS a "natural monopoly," which means the nationwide scope of the service delivered requires a sole provider to achieve efficiency and economies of scale.
Sadly, however, a number of right-wing ideologues chief among them, James Miller, III, Mr. Stockman's successor at OMB have advocated the repeal of the private express statutes. These individuals would dismantle the Postal Service and turn the carriage of the mail over to private enterprise. They have made the federal budget process their vehicle.
Cuts in postal services and construction do nothing to reduce the federal deficit. Why? Because, postal income comes from postage revenues, not from the federal treasury. OMB has cynically perpetrated a hoax on the American public by deliberately confusing this crucial distinction.
When you force the USPS to make the sorts of cuts the administration engineered, you force it to reduce service to the public. That's precisely what the right wing has in mind. They hope the public will become dissatisfied with the Postal Service and the atmosphere will then be ripe for wholesale privatization. But this raises questions of political theory, not economics.
Which functions of government are fundamentally governmental in nature? Why not contract-out defense to a mercenary army? What wouldn't be privatized? The truth is that the prominent critics of the USPS have an antipublic-service philosophy. Fortunately, our Founding Fathers did not.
American Postal Workers Union