One of the biggest businesses at risk of going broke due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the United States Postal Service (USPS). As politicians go back and forth on how to fix this, privatizing the USPS has become one of the more controversial solutions. Asst. Opinion Editor Cristobal Spielmann and Opinion Editor Alyssa Story go head-to-head on whether the postal service should be privatized.
Though privatizing the postal service would be a good idea, it shouldn't have taken a pandemic to reach this conclusion. The USPS was hemorrhaging money even before the current crisis, losing billions in revenue in the past two decades. Some privatization critics might point to a burdensome 2006 pension law as the cause for USPS being in the red. However, there are other other issues that currently hinder the postal service's work, from declining volume of mail to a lack of legal competition allowed by Congress.
Letting the USPS to collect revenue and compete with other services like most businesses would free it from the current situation of consistently losing revenue. If you're worried about mail-in-ballots in the primaries and general election, don't be. Postal voting and privatized postal services are not mutually exclusive — just look at democracies like Germany and the United Kingdom, which use Deutsche Post and Royal Mail, respectively. The former is required by law to deliver letters everywhere in Germany, so it's feasible for Congress to exercise their constitutional powers regarding post offices and post roads to enforce universal mail coverage for a new mail delivery free market.
Privatizing the USPS is a reasonable choice to alleviate many issues present in this country's mailing system. Chaotic times like these have reinvigorated new conversations around previously under discussed ideas in modern politics, so why shouldn't postal privatization be one of them?
This is the opinion of Cristobal Spielmann, a sophomore environmental science major from Brentwood, Tennessee. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email email@example.com.
Yes, there are major issues with the United States Postal Service (USPS), but turning mailing services over to private companies is not a viable or fair answer. Instead, USPS must be reabsorbed into the U.S. government and treated as a general public utility. What most of us forget is that until 1971 the U.S. Postal Service was funded through the general government budget and any charges and surplus revenue were recycled back into the budget. Currently, USPS is forced to operate in the market the same as a private business, a plan that has obviously failed.
The USPS is the only organization that is required to provide mailing services to every address in every corner of the U.S. Private mailing services, such as FedEx and UPS, operate under no such requirements. Postal service for residents in rural and underdeveloped areas will never be profitable, so these companies have limited or no service in those areas. USPS is also required to offer flat rates based on geography, something private companies are not required to do — again to the loss of rural residents. In addition, USPS helps private delivery services by filling the gap when companies do not want to run a delivery route in a rural or low-delivery area. USPS and private mail services actually need each other to stay afloat.
USPS is required to operate in a way that no other private business has to, but also must participate in the economy as a revenue-generating business, something that is virtually impossible. The truth is, fair postal routes with complete coverage will never be a revenue generating business model. Instead of forcing mailing service into the hands of margin-maximizing companies, the government should reabsorb the service into the national budget.
This is the opinion of Alyssa Story, a freshman film, television and media studies major from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tweet comments to @LALoyolan or email firstname.lastname@example.org.