Government as False Savior

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One of the more amusing aspects of living in contemporary America, if one likes one’s humor fairly dark, is that the government is attempting to take over health care at the same time the wheels are coming off some functions of government that have been around for centuries.  That is your cue Post Office.

Inspector general David Williams, described as the “chief postal watchdog,” said the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will go out of business this year unless Congress bails it out.
 
In an interview with the Guardian, Williams said the postal service lost nearly $16 billion the last fiscal year, nearly $41 billion over the last five years, and has reached its $15 billion credit limit.
 
When asked if the USPS will need a bailout this year, Williams said: “Yes. The choices are that it would cease to exist or it would need a bailout.”
 
Williams, whose agency audits the postal service, says Congress may have to help the postal service with its pension payments, which he says have put the postal service “in very serious trouble.”
 
According to the Guardian, the USPS has “missed its last two payments into the benefit funds” and “has never made a single payment without having to borrow from the US Treasury. “

Go here to Big Government to read the rest.  The truth is that throughout the West we have witnessed a refusal of peoples to look problems squarely in the eye and solve them.  Instead, we ask Unholy Mother the State to come and act as Nanny for us.  We use the term “government” as a magic wand that will make everything right and lead us to a utopia where everyone can do what they want and be paid for it.   The faith in government today is truly childlike and pathetic in both its innocence and its blindness.  Government has always been a necessary evil, with the emphasis usually on its latter half.  It has never usually worked very efficiently, which is frequently a good thing.  Americans traditionally have had a healthy scepticism and antipathy for government.  After the present madness passes, as we survey a debt ridden nation and people waking up angrily from a fool’s dream, I hope we will be inoculated from the government as savior superstition for several generations, which is probably how long it will take us to dig ourselves out from the economic hole the majority of Americans voted for.

13 Responses to Government as False Savior

  • Well then the Post Office should have no problem if Congress were to vote to end its lucrative monopoly on first class mail, and give it freedom to compete in the private sector, free to make its own rules and to either earn a profit or go bankrupt if it cannot. The days when magical “government” can allow money losing pits like the Post Office to exist are drawing to a close as we are reaching the end stages of the trick of conjuring money out of thin air.

    Additionally, the prepayment argument is phony. In 2011 the Post Office had a 5.1 billion loss without paying a cent on prepayment for health benefits pushing that year’s payment into fiscal year 2012. In 2012 the Post Office defaulted on eleven billion in health care prepayments and on top of that had a five billion dollar loss.

    Could the post office make a profit as a private entity free of government interference? I am uncertain, but I know the day is swiftly approaching when it will have to make the attempt or go the way of Nineveh, Tyre and Amalgamated Buggy Whips.

  • Sherry Weddell says:

    Yikes! Nobody seems to have a problem with getting their mail delivered to their door everyday. Those days are probably over but sometimes we don’t know the whole story and still a gentler spirit can prevail???

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    I wouldn’t consider the Postal Service to be the poster child for government inefficiency or nanny statism. Mail delivery, arguably, could be considered a part of the general public infrastructure along with roads, water/sewer supplies, and other utilities. (Yes, I know that people do more things by e-mail and online these days but not everyone has or will be able to afford a computer or smartphone, and there are still some things that have to be delivered by hand.) Genuine nanny statism comes from the purely regulatory agencies such as EPA, Commerce, Energy, etc. that, in general, don’t provide any other “service” besides telling state, local, and private entities what they can and cannot do.

  • “Yikes! Nobody seems to have a problem with getting their mail delivered to their door everyday.”

    Actually in thirty years of dealing with the Post Office in business I have had some horror stories, including a missing check from a Bank in my town that made the mistake of posting a check to me, to pieces of mail that have been delivered to me in plastic bags due to the postal machinery chewing them up, to undeliverable mail that mysteriously comes back to me months after I have sent it out, to mail from nearby towns and cities that take weeks to get to me instead of days. These are the execeptions rather than the rule, but they are not that infrequent. (Every week mail that is not mine, and is clearly addressed, is mistakenly put into my mail box at the post office and I take time out to go to the front desk so that they can put it in the proper mail box.) The Post Office has a large task, but there are definitely problem areas that would cause a private business to remedy them or to go out of business.

  • Mail delivery Elaine I think after the invention of railroads and steamships, say around 1865, could have been privatized. That it was not was largely attributable to the fact that in those days postmasterships were prize political plums and highly sought after. Of course Congresscritters would also have lost their franking privilege to send out re-elect me propaganda disguised as informative letters to constituents, something that was highly prized by them then as now.

  • Art Deco says:

    Mail delivery, arguably, could be considered a part of the general public infrastructure along with roads, water/sewer supplies, and other utilities.

    Mail delivery is not a natural monopoly, nor are regulatory functions integral to the operation of the postal service, nor is it a service from which you are unable to exclude non-paying clientele. Private companies are pleased to deliver parcels and express mail for a fee, and they deliver to your door just about anywhere you may live; there is not much preventing them from delivering first-class mail and advertising flyers as well. Some use of bid contracts to subvene mail delivery to certain remote locations might be justified and certain functions now performed by components of the postal service might be transferred to other units of the government (the postal inspection service, stamp production, &c). The real problem with putting the postal service on the auction bloc is the dysfunctional culture maintained by their unions and their actuarially unsound retirement benefits. You need to address these problems first, then sell.

  • Art Deco says:

    Could the post office make a profit as a private entity free of government interference? I am uncertain, but I know the day is swiftly approaching when it will have to make the attempt or go the way of Nineveh, Tyre and Amalgamated Buggy Whips.

    Were its assets taken over by private equity or one of its competitors (UPS, FedEx, Mailboxes USA) and an appropriate restructuring undertaken, sure. It is a declining business and there may not be room for as many competitors, but it is still useful and people pay for it. The thing is, a large mass of people will lose their jobs, many physical outlets will close, and pensioners are going to have to accept cram-downs administered by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. That’s not going to be pretty.

  • Pinky says:

    Denzel Washington once told the story about his time working at the Post Office. He was young and eager, and pretty quickly figured out how to do his full day’s sorting work in two hours. All the old-timers hated him. Finally, one day, one of them handed him a stack of magazines and told him he wasn’t allowed to sort them until he’d read them, cover to cover.

  • Dave W says:

    Let’s remember, as antiquated and over burdened as the USPS is, it’s one of the better quasio-gov agencies out there. It is also the primo facto poster child of rampant unionization & bureaucratic inefficiencies that strangle the chances to turn things around fast enough to adjust to the market needs. Heck, they seem to need a presidential decree just to curtail wasteful saturday deliveries. Can’t reduce their workforce to match demand. Can’t consolidate offices quick enough …. etc. etc. By why worry Alfred … bailouts are acoming.

  • Art Deco says:

    By why worry Alfred … bailouts are acoming.

    AIG got three discrete capital infusions and even Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are beginning to break even after four years as money pits. The bailout of which you speak would have to be an open-ended committment to finance the Postal Service’s deficits. I do not think Mr. Boehner’s crew will stand for that.

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