|Wed Sept 25 2013 15:49:11|
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
By: Julia Wilkinson
|I was driving back from, appropriately enough, dropping off a package at my local post office when I heard on the radio that the U.S. Postal Service is considering raising rates again; this time from 46 to 49 cents for a first-class letter stamp. Also, "the cost for each additional ounce of first-class mail would increase a penny to 21 cents while the price of mailing a postcard would rise by a cent, to 34 cents. The cost to mail a letter to an international destination would jump 5 cents to $1.15," according to the AP. But the hikes must be approved by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission; if they OK it, the the new rates would become effective Jan. 26, 2014. But the thing I'm wondering is, are there other ways the U.S. Postal Service can get out of the red and into the black...creative ways, perhaps, that wouldn't necessarily involve rate hikes?|
One thought I had was that the Postal Service could start selling to businesses postage stamps with company names or logos on them. These stamps could even celebrate some historical aspect of their business; for example, Levi Strauss could have an image of the oldest pair of jeans, or of founder Levi Strauss. Or Coca-Cola could have a picture of an old glass contour Coke bottle from 1917.
Of course, the Postal Service already offers people some freedom with their stamps; they can print pictures of themselves or family (or what have you) via PhotoStamps. And these cost from $5-$10 for a sheet. But these don't apparently seem to be plugging the holes in the Postal Service's budget.
But the business would in effect be subsidizing the stamps, and getting advertising from them. Would they sell? Well, that I don't know, but it could be started with one business on an experimental basis.
Are there other ways the Postal Service could save money? One article in the Baltimore Sun reported "Inspector General David C. Williams recommended that the Postal Service adopt a cohesive strategy for forging more public-private partnerships with businesses as a way of bringing needed cash into the system, which posted a $15.9 billion loss in 2012." One example of such a successful partnerships cited was the long-term contract Maryland signed with Ports America to build a new container berth and to operate the port's Seagirt Marine Terminal.
However, a spokeswoman for the American Postal Workers Union, Sally Davidow, blamed the Postal Service's budget problems on Congress' requirement that the agency fund retirees' health benefits 75 years ahead, according to the article, and she said public-private partnerships are not the solution.
Why? "It's really just a pretty way of saying "contracting out the Postal Service's operations,"" Davidow said.
She claimed such partnerships would invite businesses to "scoop up the profitable parts of the business while leaving behind such unprofitable services as delivery to rural areas," according to the piece. But I don't know that that's true. If Congress can't get the "75 year ahead" funding rejiggered, isn't it time to think, well, out of the box? (Sorry).
What do you think? Is there a solution to the U.S. Postal Services woes that might make businesses and consumers happy, and the Postal Service at least solvent? Post a comment here!
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