By Llewellyn H. Rockwell,
of the U.S. Postal Service as a Soviet planning bureaucracy. The
P.S. causes severe and systemic dislocations, imposes a terrible
burden on enterprise and the citizenry, and is sometimes tyrannical.
Also like Soviet planning, the longer it lasts, the worse it gets.
It is doomed to fail and be dismantled.
recent days, the Postal Service has sunk to new lows even by its
own standards. In entire sections of Chicago, the mails have broken
down. When they were putting out a fire in suburban Palatine, Ill.,
fire fighters discovered 4,000 pounds of mail in the apartment of
Robert Beverly, a 30-year old P.S. employee. Other bags of mail
have been found hidden in rusted-out trucks or burned under bridges.
yes, U.S. Postmaster General Marvin Runyon cracked down on mail
supervisors in Chicago. They weren't canned, as they would be in
a free market. Marvelous Marv simply demoted the Chicago Three to
slightly less plush jobs. Plant manager Celestine Green, who spent
$200,000 in tax dollars remodeling her apartment while the mail
went up in smoke, left for a mail job at a smaller plant outside
Chicago. Customer "service" manager Ormer Rogers headed for Kansas
City, Mo. And Chicago postmaster Jimmie Mason enjoys parity pay
in Columbia, S.C.
Runyon described his action as "Operation Clean Sweep," and not
only because the public's wallets were vacuumed. Just as in the
Soviet system, the affair was scripted to appease an angry public.
If these officials were incompetent, why foist them on other cities
and suburbs? If they were typical, why target them at all?
the new managers in Chicago have to deal with mailmen who won't
deliver the mail, clerks who hate customers, government-dictated
and therefore inappropriate technology, a perverse union, and a
crazy system of pricing. Affirmative action and quotas have killed
what little merit was left in the "merit system." In every big city,
reports of doped up, drunk, napping, gambling, and sometimes murderous
workers are rampant.
I received this letter: "Our organization is a small one (about
1,000 members nationwide) composed mainly of American veterans of
Scottish descent. Because of our small size and dispersion we are
heavily dependent upon prompt mailing and receipt of our quarterly
journal The Patriot.
current issue for spring 1994 has disappeared in the postal system
in Atlanta, Georgia, with no hope of locating it. As a result we
are having to reissue by first class mail which is expensive. And
we cannot even recover the funds spent on the bulk mailing. This
is not an isolated instance. I understand that it is the fourth
issue to be lost in the past three years."
another case, businessman Arthur Levinas of Washington, D.C., is
offering a $10,000 reward to find out what happened to the 200,000
letters he sent out at bulk-mail rates for $60,723.43. The letters
never arrived. One report Placed them in a dumpster.
P.S. loses or throws out more than one billion letters per year,
according to James Bovard in Lost
Rights. Call it theft, looting, or exploitation, but don't
call it service.
the private sector, absent government intervention, cleaning up
this mess would be a breeze. In the government sector, however,
it's a fog. More money won't do any good. What we lack is postal
long as this remains so, the crisis can only get worse. Business
and residential customers in the Bronx and Philadelphia complain
that their maid seems to be delivered virtually at random. Catalog
businesses hire private deliverers. But businesses don't have that
option with letters, because federal law forbids "non-urgent" use
of private mail.
though bulk mail is expensive, and businesses are required to pre-sort
it in zip sequence, the Postal Service treats it like trash, even
when it doesn't use a dumpster. According to mailer surveys, even
when third-class mail is delivered, it's late more than half the
time by the P.S.'s own laughable standards.
average customer doesn't get exercised about late or missing bulk
mail. But bulk mail accounts for 38% of the Postal Service's budget.
As business scrambles to find new ways to reach customers, this
revenue will decline. Add to that the increased use of faxes, e-mail,
and private overnight packages, and the P.S. will soon face the
biggest fiscal crisis in its history. And there's a limit to how
much it can raise the price of first class stamps. Too much, and
revenue will decline.
is what to expect from a collapsing socialist system. Though it
pretends to run on business principles, the Postal Service's prices
and wages are not market driven, but set by arbitrary edict. It
is a model of government-controlled: wasteful, infuriating, and
of this is why we will eventually get private mail delivery in this
country. The P.S.'s problems are unsolvable, and the public will
eventually refuse to accept the abuse.
course, we can expect frantic resistance from Washington, D.C. Delivering
the mail is the one function, besides sending soldiers to foreign
lands and depreciating the dollar, over which the feds claim an
time is coming when they'll have to fess up. They can't deliver
the mail any more effectively than they can manage the economy,
make everyone well educated, or fill our hearts with love for all
Sam, take off the mailbag. It's time for capitalism to do the job.