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Monopoly on snail mail. (Correction Please).

ITEM: President Bush, reported CBS News on December 11th, "signed an order creating a commission to look into overhauling and perhaps even privatizing the U.s. postal system.... American Postal Workers Union president Bill Burrus told CBS Radio News he already knows what it will say.... 'It's a done deal. This is an opportunity to achieve privatization of the U.S. Mail...,' Burrus said."

CORRECTION: Paranoid union suspicions notwithstanding, there is no indication of an administration plot to do the right thing. Indeed, Treasury Undersecretary Peter Fisher explicitly gave assurances about the commission's aim: "This is not a stealth project to privatize the Postal Service."

To get a sense of Postal Service competence, consider that it was happy to report losses of $676 million in the last fiscal year compared to the expected $1.35 billion for this year. Despite handling less mail (down 4.6 billion pieces in a year), the USPS raised first-class rates by almost 9 percent in June.

The Postal Service uses its protected tax-exempt position to compete with private firms in various e-commerce enterprises. Yet because the USPS has a legal monopoly on first- and third-class mail, it is a federal crime for private firms to deliver such items for prices as low as the Postal Service.

In 1998, former Postmaster General William Henderson foresaw: We will "not retain our monopoly forever. We will lose this monopoly. It's happening all over the world." However, in Washington, that day never comes.
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Author:Hoar, William P.
Publication:The New American
Date:Jan 13, 2003
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