Saturday, October 5, 2013

Business As Usual - Not

Wouldn't it be nice if the government was run like a business? Revenues would have to match or exceed expenses. Customers would have to be satisfied. The government would have to be efficient and effective, or it wouldn't survive. Which brings us to this bit of news.

Lost in all the hullabaloo surrounding the ongoing government shutdown was the news that the U.S. Post Office has defaulted on its debt - again.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) defaulted on its debt last night. No, it has nothing to do with the partial shutdown of the government. The USPS is not affected by that. Rather, it has its very own, parallel fiscal crisis that threatens its viability as an institution.

Yesterday’s default—on $5.6 billion owed to the U.S. Treasury for funding of retiree health benefits—will be the third such default in as many years. The USPS just doesn’t have the money. After seven straight years of deficits, the USPS is just about out of cash. And things are likely to get worse before they get better: Postmaster General Patrick Donahue reports that by mid-October, the government-owned enterprise will have no more than five days’ worth of cash on hand.
The Post Office's solution?

Raise the price of stamps.
This week, the United States Postal Service unveiled its grand plan to raise revenues, close its budget deficit, and save the Post Office now and forever. It's going to ... raise stamp prices by 3 cents.

As grand plans go, this one is kind of underwhelming. Worse, it won't work. Not by a long shot -- and I'll tell you why.

The United States Postal Service just finished reporting a $740 million quarterly operating loss last month. As things currently stand, the USPS is on track to lose $6 billion this year. Yet by the Postmaster General's own admission, raising stamp prices by 3 cents will raise only about $2 billion in revenue. It won't come close to fixing the problem.
That's a perfect example of what's wrong with government 'thinking.' Fewer and fewer people are using the post office; its customer base is decreasing. The government response: "Hey, we know how to attract more customers. Let's raise the price."

Which leads to my next point. If I buy an airplane ticket and the flight is cancelled, I expect a refund. If I pay to see a movie and the show is cancelled, I expect my money back. That's just basic business practice.

Well, I've paid my money to the federal government via a bevy of taxes to numerous to mention. Since the government is currently closed for business and I'm not receiving the products and services which I've already paid for, I'm entitled to a refund. If I don't get it, someone (everyone!) should be fired.

We wouldn't accept being treated like this by a business. Why do we sit still for it from our government?


jeff said...

I have been bitchin about this for years. And you are correct, run things like a business. Problem is, you have lifetime politicians, not business people running the show on both sides.
When Harry Reid calls us anarchists he is partially right. We see the malfunction of big government, we ant smaller more efficient government.

Common sense escapes those who are in it for themselves.

CenTexTim said...

If wanting smaller, more efficient, responsible government makes me an anarchist, then I'm proud to be one.