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BuyLower: There are other ways to get the things you mention from point A to point B. It is convenient but is it necessary for the gov't to be providing this service if it can't at least break even?

I agree the pre-funding mandate seems excessive but if that's still only 85% of the red ink, it's still short 15%.

The Post Office was specifically created in the constitution. It was considered at that time to be critical to the success of the country. The constitution didn't say anything about 'if it makes a profit'.

The Post Office serves essentially everyone. It serves, particularly, rural areas that cost more to service than they bring in in revenue. That service is essential for many government functions -- taxes, official notices, social security checks, &c, and a variety of government operations are predicated on mail service, and important for rural citizens. Many of those functions would be considerably more expensive without a universal postal service.

There is competition -- UPS, FedEx, DHL, and other services also deliver packages. But they do so only in metropolitan areas and areas with fairly high population densities. None of them is willing to step up and serve all of the U.S..

I think there are reasonable choices here. We could insist that other carriers serve rural areas. (Or we could insist that they remit surcharges for refusing to do so.) We could beat congress around the head and shoulders and allow the post office to set its own rates. We could insist that congress make the USPS's bookkeeping sane.

But what we're actually seeing is Republicanism writ large: privatizing the profitable and socializing the losses. And it's working about as well as other things in similar straits, which is to say, it's seriously broken.

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