August 4, 2015
Re “Reisman: Complaining about Postal Service is futile,” March 16 column:
Columnist Phil Reisman repeated misleading “conventional wisdom” about U.S. Postal Service finances in asserting that “email, social media and the Internet in general are the primary cause of the Postal Service’s chronic woes.”
Were increased Internet usage indeed causing the red ink that some in Washington, D.C., claim necessitates service cuts, then your readers could only shrug and accept the slowing of the mail, proposed ending of Saturday delivery, and replacement of door delivery with neighborhood cluster boxes.
Fortunately, that’s not the case. Postal operations are profitable, and increasingly so. The Postal Service reported $1.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2014 operating profits, a figure already surpassed halfway through 2015. As the economy recovers from the worst recession since the Great Depression, mail revenue has stabilized. Meanwhile, as folks in Westchester County and elsewhere shop online, package revenue is skyrocketing, making the Internet a net positive.
The red ink stems not from the mail or the Internet, but from Washington politics. In 2006, a lame-duck Congress mandated that the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree health benefits. No other agency or company has to pre-fund for even one year; the Postal Service must pre-fund 75 years into the future and pay for it all over a decade. That $5.6 billion annual charge is the red ink.
Degrading profitable postal networks is illogical. Instead, New Yorkers should urge lawmakers to address the pre-funding fiasco. Then the Postal Service can continue to offer Americans the world’s most-affordable delivery network.
The writer is president of the National Association of Letter Carriers.