The U.S. Postal Service is among entities in today's economy that continues to undergo a transformation.
For many reasons, not the least of which are Washington policies, the Postal Service continues to struggle.
On Dec. 4, 2018, a presidential task force report warned of the need for major reforms to make the Postal Service financially viable and protect taxpayers. But legislation continues to languish.
The Treasury Department has been propping up the Postal Service for years with low-interest loans, enabling it to avoid bankruptcy and reorganization. Major losses and debt, however, continue and remain.
The Postal Service had a negative net worth of $62 billion. Total unfunded liabilities and debt exceed $140 billion. The Postal Service has had 12 consecutive years of losses, and is expected to lose $6.6 billion this year.
Paul Steidler, a senior fellow with the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank in Arlington, Virginia, contends the Postal Service's dire condition threatens public safety.
Writing for www.InsideSources.com, he makes key points:
• Increase in opioid use. Starting Jan. 1, Congress required all incoming mail from China to have advanced electronic data. As nearly all opioids are made in China, this enables law enforcement to better pinpoint and seize suspicious packages. Yet, the Postal Service has not even done the basics and continues to deliver the 24 percent of packages from China without AED. While the Postal Service should immediately get aggressive with China and refuse to deliver these items, it should also put all available resources possible into helping intercept opioids, which in 2017 killed 47,000 Americans.
• Aging trucks. Would you allow your teenager to drive a vehicle that is more than 20 years old and has been driven on average six days a week?According to the Postal Service, 62 percent of its trucks are more than 20 years old. Among the many issues of maintaining older vehicles is preventing potential fires. Trucks.com reports that 120 postal truck fires have occurred in the last five years.
• Drug and medical device delivery. Pharmaceuticals and medical devices are increasingly delivered to homes. These are especially important to the elderly, sick and poor. Postal Service liquidity problems would curtail or delay these deliveries. The recipients and shippers should have contingency delivery plans.
• Recall notices. Product safety recall notices are timely and essential for protecting consumers. Without prompt Postal Service delivery, risks rise.
• Counterfeit products. Counterfeit goods are an increasing problem and threaten the viability of legitimate businesses. Some products, like counterfeit toys, pose safety risks to children and others and cannot be recalled. A financially stronger Postal Service will be better able to identify and seize counterfeit items.
Changes to ensure viability of the Postal Service -- and public safety -- are essential. It is in the interest of the American people and national security for the government to ensure that communication and delivery across the nation is guaranteed no matter the status of private firms. There is plenty of room for prosperity for private enterprise and a government-backed Postal Service in today's delivery economy.
Washington should quit procrastinating and make righting the ship at the U.S. Postal Service a top priority.