How the United States Postal Service is “going broke”

How the United States Postal Service is “going broke”

It was only a few years ago that the USPS was considered not only stable, but thriving. The biggest volume in pieces of mail handled by the Postal Service in its 236-year history was in 2006. The second and third busiest years were in 2005 and 2007, respectively.

Perhaps it was its booming history that first drew Congress’ attention to the Postal Service in 2006 when it passed the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act (PAEA), which mandated that the Postal Service would have to fully fund retiree health benefits for future retirees.

But it even went beyond that. Congress was mandating coverage for future human beings.

“It’s almost hard to comprehend what they’re talking about, but basically they said that the Postal Service would have to fully fund future retirees’ health benefits for the next 75 years and they would have to do it within a ten-year window,” says Chuck Zlatkin, political director of the New York Metro Area Postal Union.

The act meant that every September 30th, the USPS had to cough up $5.5 billion to the Treasury for the pre-funding of future retirees’ health benefits, meaning the Postal Service pays for employees 75 years into the future.

The USPS is funding the retirement packages of people who haven’t even been born yet.

We keep being told that email and the Internet have killed the Postal Service and it’s simply not true. Adjusting for the economic downturn, it appears the USPS is busier now than it ever has been before. E-commerce has been a huge boost as all the items people purchase online have to get to people’s homes and the cheapest way to do that is still through the Postal Service.

For those who don’t recognize why this is so important, the Postal Service is a vital cog in the American economy and is constitutionally mandated. It particularly benefits the poor.

There are still tons of people who need the USPS’s services: poorer people, people using a post office box, rural people who live outside delivery areas, eBay-type entrepreneurs, and nonprofits.

“It’s part of the class war and it’s against the poor and it’s a class war against working people,” says Zlatkin. Of the 34 post offices the USPS is considering closing in New York City, 17 are in the Bronx. The South Bronx district ranks as the poorest Congressional district in America.
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