"Here's another sad sign of our economic times: Never before has the U.S. Postal Service laid off workers. Now, it's a real possibility," lamented Joe Davidson in the October 3 "Federal Diary" feature for the Washington Post.
But isn't that part of the problem with government in the first place? Rather than trimming expenses and payroll during tough economic times, the federal bureaucracy stubbornly insist on being immune to market forces that affect the private sector.
Davidson quoted American Postal Workers Union President William Burris that "for the first time in postal history, the losses cannot be recovered by postage rate increases."
Wow. Cry me a river. Davidson fails to explain that one major reason the federal tax-exempt USPS has been able to rate-hike its way out of trouble before is that, by federal law, it has a monopoly on the delivery of first class mail.
With the rise of inexpensive electronic bill-paying and e-mail communication, first class mail has taken a major hit so that making it more expensive is "counterproductive" Davidson noted.
In closing the Post staffer found room for union concerns about postal privatization, quoting Burris saying that, "[a]s postal employees cast their votes... protecting our employment must be a decisive factor." Davidson failed to note that privatization is hardly an untested or uniquely conservative Republican concept. Indeed, Germany's Deutsche Post went private years ago and Japan Post is currently on the road to full privatization. Meanwhile French President Nicolas Sarkozy is pushing a privatization plan that would take effect in 2010, although he is facing fierce opposition from, you guessed it, labor unions.