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Who is to blame for postal service?

The U.S. Postal Service is one branch of the federal government many individuals find easy to dislike. Is it because they deliver bills to our residences?

However, the postal service has been a quasi-private company since 1971. It receives no appropriations from Congress, but that doesn’t keep the lawmakers from meddling. While it is financed primarily by its own revenue, Congress has prohibited it from making the decisions necessary to cure its financial ills.

The postal service has been hemorrhaging money like, well, the federal government. Over the last five years costs over revenues ran about $20 billion, with no end in sight. Congress deserves a good share of the blame that can’t be cured by raising the cost of a first-class stamp by a cent or two.

In 2006, Congress ordered the postal service to “pre-fund” a large part of its retiree health-care plan. Most governmental and private entities operate on a pay-as-you-go procedure. The congressional mandate cost about $5.5 billion annually, requiring the postal service to borrow almost $13 billion from the U.S. Treasury, which probably borrowed the money from China or the Social Security Trust Fund.

The postal service must accept some of the blame for its problems. It has not kept pace with the changing times.

The elderly and poor rely on the post office for letter -writing, bill-paying and Social Security checks, not computers. The postal service still delivers a letter for 45-cents, six days a week. We have not seen private companies seek a piece of the action at that price.

Our Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, calls on Congress to “establish post offices and post roads.” Does that mean maintaining post offices and keeping them open at all costs?

Remember that Congress, which has a nasty habit of ignoring problems, especially during election years, shares a lot of that blame.