This is somewhat out of date, but considering that it is a developing story, I wanted to get my two (or three cents, if we’re talking about Lysander Spooner’s stamps) in. The United States Postal Service, a sprawling, inefficiently-run government monopoly, is facing default. Over the years, the USPS has been gradually increasing shipping costs in order to make up for massive losses, but it seems that increases in the cost of postage will no longer make up for the billions in lost revanue.
In these tough economic times the USPS has been forced to actually do something that it feared so much over a century ago that it made illegal: compete. Fortunately, in modern times, the state cannot pass Private Express Statutes for the sprawling new innovative ways that humans have found to communicate, such as email, text messaging, instant messaging, video conferencing, and more.
Some may decry the loss of services by the Postal Service as deleterious to our general economic health, but it is quite the opposite. The cutbacks at the Postal Service are simply signs that it is an inefficient dinosaur operating in the age of communication-mammals. Though it may be considered high treason to say so, perhaps it is time to abolish the United States Postal Service. Almost everything can now be done online and physical postage has become simply a form of advertising. A whopping 77.3% of Americans are considered Internet users in 2010, and the number is simply rising. Banking, billing, advertising, and communicating have all gone paperless in the 21st century.
The loss of jobs from the Postal Service being cutback should not be mourned, but celebrated. Though the USPS has not been funded taxpayer dollars since the 1980s, the fact that competition in the letter market is illegal means that the jobs it has “created” are actually more or less zombie jobs that are sustained by misallocating wealth (unfortunately, as Public Choice Theory tells us, it simply isn’t a big enough chunk for each and every person to make it worth their time to battle against it).
Ever since Lysander Spooner attempted to compete with the United States Postal Office in 1844, it has been illegal to offer postage at a rate lower than the government-granted monopoly. It is currently unclear what true prices in this system could consist of because the current government monopoly manipulated the price system and fails to provide real market prices. If we could abolish that monopoly, then, theoretically, prices should also go down as the services that fill that void attempt to compete for services.
Keeping the Postal Service around stifles progress; it sends the message that there is a need for the service and that it is something that we must be provided at the government teat. Abolishing the Postal Service would not only be greatly efficacious towards promoting postal progress, it would also send the sign that has been much needed in the past decades: Progress is needed.
Cross-published from my blog.Published in