Postmaster to PRC: Financial Challenges That USPS Face Today Are Manufactured

The following are excerpts of comments submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission regarding the Retail Access Optimization Initiative:

The financial challenges that face the Postal Service today are, at heart,manufactured, the result of dysfunctional Congressional oversight and a myopic postal management that seeks at every turn to undermine the very basis for its existence. The postal network we have developed over generations provides not only mail delivery but an essential governmental presence in every community and corner of the nation. This
network, which should be viewed as an asset rather than simply as overbuilt industrial capacity, truly has served to bind the nation together. Dissolving and dismantling this important piece of our national infrastructure would be a tragic mistake.

As the issues confronting the nation’s postal system have moved ever to the forefront it is not hyperbole to say that Congress has failed the American people, or that those charged with managing the nation’s postal system have failed miserably, or that some of the industries that have benefited from the existence of this essential infrastructure have taken a narrow and completely self-interested view of the problems and potential solutions. Throughout these difficult times two entities have managed to maintain their institutional integrity and act as honest brokers.

Both the PRC and the USPS-OIG have remained true to their defined functions and missions. Both have produced reports, studies and white papers that demonstrate a thoughtful approach which recognizes the essential value of the nation’s postal system.Even when confined to commenting on the limited and narrow vision expressed by the system’s management both of these institutions have done so in an essentially honest way that often clarifies the cognitive dissonance inherent in postal management’s approach to the problems that confront us.

I spent most of my career as a postmaster in a small rural community. I know how important the presence and reach of the postal service can be. What is being offered in exchange for that presence and reach is wholly insufficient. I suppose though that in the face of multi-billion dollar deficits that heart warming stories about the impact the Postal Service and postal employees have on their communities will fall upon deaf ears.

I suppose too that in an age where ideological rigidity trumps evidence or human concerns that it is pointless to offer any viewpoint that doesn’t affirm the preferred ideology. And when our business models take into account only short term considerations, exalting immediate profit over long term growth and worshipping cost cutting at the expense of employment and jobs then I suppose that any discussion of the value of the postal network as infrastructure becomes a pointless exercise.

The Postal Service has come before you with a request to fundamentally change the nature of postal services in this country. This case cannot stand alone as a simple argument for a change in the nature of service in the face of financial challenges. It does not exist in a vacuum but must be examined in light of all the other presentments, actions, and plans offered by the Postal Service. Examined in that light this case is nothing less
than a request to abandon the concept of universal service.

This case is about first principles, it is about a fundamental understanding of what government is and does. It is about the profound truth inherent in the idea of a national infrastructure that provides universal service and opportunity. It should not be about political expedience or turn on the fact that Congress has imposed reckless and unsustainable burdens on a national treasure.

Throughout its existence the PRC has demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism, honesty and integrity in its processes and decision making. No matter how you choose to approach this case I am certain that you will continue to demonstrate those values. I implore you to grasp the opportunity this case gives you to examine first principles, to make a statement that acknowledges the very foundational place the Founders saw for the post and to sustain the basic profound truth embodied in the principle of universal service.

Ultimately Congress, which created the financial crisis confronting the Postal Service, must find a solution to the present problems. Ultimately Congress, which created a dysfunctional and unaccountable management system, must take responsibility for its failures. Do not let Congress or postal management off the hook by crafting a narrow decision in this case. This case is about first principles, please have the courage to let your decision reflect that.

Mark Jamison
1363 Webster Rd
Sylva, NC 28779

read complete submission to PRC

8 thoughts on “Postmaster to PRC: Financial Challenges That USPS Face Today Are Manufactured

  1. I believe the USPS is a business and should be run as a business by and for the American people. There is a they and a them . It would be naive to believe there aren’t forces at work here.
    Most everything bought and sold on the Internet has to be shipped The Internet shipping business is big and is going to get exponentially bigger and become exponentially more lucrative world wide. If they privatize the USPS, they will have eliminated THE MOST LEVERAGED AND ADVANTAGED PLAYER IN THE SHIPPING BUSINESS. Tax exempt, non profit and with the largest infrastructure on the planet. Fed Ex, UPS and DHL, no one can compete with the United States Postal Service. There are trillions of dollars at stake. The USPS can generate massive federal revenues and still keep the cost of a stamp down much better than anyone. All those revenues will go into the pockets of profiteers instead of our treasury. Once it’s done , it can’t be undone. The Postal Service has trillions in real estate and infrastructure assets which are owned free and clear without tax liabilities. Once they’re sold, we will never be able to afford to buy them back. Gone forever. There is more at stake than tons of money. American freedom and liberty. Ben Franklin the first Postmaster General couldn’t see the Internet coming but he was smart enough to realize that Americans have the right to a free flow of correspondence and conveyance of materials without profiteers and possibly foreign entities having any control over it. Don’t let the USPS turn into a utility bill and junk mail delivery service while the multinationals make a grab for the real estate and equipment that took the the American people 250 years to acquire .

  2. I just have one thing to say, fix the dam problem let these people still keep there jobs , as I know for a fact these men and women work like dogs in the p and dc and all they keep hearing is look at the numbers if the public only knew the real story of how these robots r treated they would probably appreciate their local post office and fight to keep them all open.

  3. Mr. Jamison, THANK YOU for your post and insight. I commend you for your contributions to society and hope many will read your comments here. North Carolina would be fortunate to have you in Congress. I really hope the PRC has someone like you to help with the current condition of the USPS. THANKS AGAIN!!

  4. Well written piece Mr. Jamison. Nice comment as usual from Wage Slave. I am getting worn down after 56 years of the “us and “them” attitude that prevails in America. Shameful in this day and age to have sooo many citizens that are ignorant, many may not even be just ignorant……stupid is more the term. Can’t or won’t think past their noses…….

  5. I believe the entire Postal Accountability and Reconciliation Act of2006, as passed by Congress, caused much of the financial drama for USPS. I believe Postal Management wants the pre-funding of retiree health benefits to go away and that is why they are making dire predictions, such as elimination of service days, layoffs, etc. They are trying to bargain…in a passive aggressive way. We’re going into default, they say. They know Congress won’t go for that and are hoping the pre-funding requirement will be lifted.

  6. This was a FACTUAL and to the point summary of why the Postal Service is in the
    position it is in.
    The Congress created this problem and it is up to the Congress to FIX THEIR ERRORS.
    As a side note, folks like “Spigot”, who live in their OWN LITTLE WORLD with little
    empathy for the MAJORITY of Americans who are daily served by their local carrier
    and Post Office, continue to HYPE THE CONSERVATIVE MEME’S that the Postal
    Service must be converted to the PRIVATIZATION MODEL with drastic PERMANENT
    STRUCTURAL AND SERVICE CHANGES that will alter the USPS from it’s classic
    Universal Service purpose as envisioned by our founders who included it in our
    These people are intent on changing the face of America, to it’s detriment and
    will not stop until they are booted out of office by the American voter….it’s too bad
    that they will DO GREAT HARM TO AMERICA AND IT’S WORKERS before they
    are gone…

  7. Spigot, your comment makes an assumption without any basis in fact. The fact is that I served the first ten years of my career in an urban area. I’ve lived in urban and suburban areas as well as the rural area I returned to.
    The Postal Service is just as valid for urban America as it is for rural America. Many of the stations and branches that have been closed are in under served urban and suburban areas and I know from friends who are carriers in these areas that their jobs and impacts on the communities they serve can be just as important as they are in other areas.
    The USPS is not and should not be a business of any kind. It is an important piece of our national infrastructure that affords opportunity of many varieties to both business and individuals. It should be run efficiently and effectively (which is not currently the case) but it should be what is rather what it can never be.
    Your post offers an insight to our greatest failure today, the dissolution of our political dialogue into camps of “us and them”. Our Constitution begins “We the people..” yet we seem to spend most of our time sorting ourselves into opposing camps, mostly with the intent of insuring that we, I, me, gets my due even if that’s at the expense of someone else.
    In my piece to the PRC I quote President Kennedy who offered that ” A rising tides lifts all boats”. Division has turned our economy and our country into a zero sum game rather than a proposition of growth benefiting all.
    Killing the Postal Service and especially the idea of universal service aids no one, probably not even some of the mailers who see low subsidized rates as an entitlement.

  8. Nicely written piece. I would have liked to have lived in a small town my whole life too. Alas, the big city is a whole lot different than rural communities. Life in the big city fastlane is hard, ruthlessly unfair, and bottom line oriented. The USPS is big city business with big city agendas and the sooner small town America accepts that truth, the sooner they will adapt to the new reality of fewer rural post offices.

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