Those who enjoy slow-motion disasters have spent years watching the travails of the gallant United States Postal Service, which is kind of like FedEx if it was run by the Three Stooges. Just how existentially challenged is our nation's mail service?
The LA Times has an overview of the USPS's grim situation today. First, the bad news:
The Postal Service lost $1.9 billion between January and March, and $15.9 billion last year. The 238-year-old institution loses $25 million each day, and has reached its borrowing limit with the federal Treasury. Daily mail delivery could be threatened within a year, officials say.
That's pretty bad! That's very bad. That's extremely bad. Negative $16 billion dollars per year is not the kind of "alpha" performance that professional managers generally seek out. The other bad news: every time the USPS tries to actually fix something to stop losing so much money, like by ending Saturday mail delivery, Congress, which is composed of petulant stamp collectors who cannot do arithmetic, stops them. So it seems quite likely that our elected representatives will steer the USPS directly into the mouth of a volcano and let it start burning before any useful reforms come about.
But there is somewhat good news as well! A significant part of the postal service's debt is due to the passage of a 2006 law that required it to "start pre-funding the health benefits of future retirees 50 years in advance," to the tune of more than $5 billion per year. Changing this funding mandate could go a long way to making the USPS far more financially sound.
Along with ending Saturday delivery, ending curbside delivery, closing all the fucking post offices in places like, I don't know, "Elmont, North Dakota," which are used only to deliver hardtack to moose trackers, raising the price of stamps by several dollars, and replacing mailmen with robots (that steal wallets).
[LAT. Photo: AP]