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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One Thing You Didn't See in the Debate Last Night

The US Postal service has a secret.

They need to borrow $800 million US dollars each month to continue operating (see this).

The Postal Service's last quarter ending June 30, 2012 saw a loss of $5.2 billion USD.

Their $15 billion US dollar "credit limit" at the US Treasury is exhausted (they had to borrow the $800 million a month from this to continue to "operate.")

According to the linked article this exhausted credit limit does not include the recently missed $11.1 billion in retiree payments not made in the last few months either.

Mail volume is declining.

I notice that our "junk mail" volume is on a significant decline again.  There's at least one day a week where I receive no mail at all (not that I am a big user but we get a lot of work- and catalog-related mail).

Fewer advertisements.

Even the state department of revenue has taken to use the phone to set up audits.

So here we have a quasi-government agency totally out of control with spending and debt.


No one at the helm can do a thing about it apparently - or they don't have the balls or the will.

If the USPS were a train it would be out of control, full of nuclear waste, running at full speed, heading for downtown Chicago.

At the bottom of the USPS website it says that the USPS is a "self-supporting government enterprise."

This must be the new, government-based concept of "self supporting."

Ultimately the USPS cannot survive as it is.

No one below about 65 (or maybe 75) in age writes letters anymore.  Junk mail has converted to pop-up browser and web ads.  Newspapers are either on-line or out of business.  There is still a large newspaper-style add business via the USPS, at least in my area, but how long can this last?

One thing, though, the USPS will have for the next hundred years is more retirees than it can pay for.

No one thinks about the fact that the USPS will now be $25 billion in debt and have only declining business (one which got it into debt in the first place) to supposedly cover the debt.

If it can't cover the debt today how will it in the future with even less revenue?

No one in government has an answer for this.

One of the big problems with government is that there is no accountability.

Sure, at a very low level there is.  As a government employee you could be fired (at least theoretically for theft, etc.)  But most or all government jobs remove the personal responsibility from what goes on.  Run your agency into the ground or spend lavishly on expensive parties - maybe you get caught, fired or disciplined.  Maybe not - because the GAO is run by your coworkers and no one likes to dump on their coworkers.

So as the USPS runs aground there won't be, as there was with the Italian cruise ship disaster a while back, any sort of "trial' to find and punish the guilty because in government no one is every guilty of making a bad decision.

No one is ever held accountable.

Unlike evil business where shareholders, banks, customers and all the rest can inflict punishment, or worse yet, invoke the government to address wrong.

The real problem is that there simply is no accountability in government for cost.

No responsibility what-so-ever for financial accountability.

Unlike business.

I've often heard that in government if you made individuals personally responsible for what they did then no one would want a job in the government.

What a surprise!

Take a job making $60,000 USD a year at company A) where you can get fired for making bad decisions or company B) where making a bad decision isn't an issue for you pesonally.

This is such a systemic problem that its unlikely the US as a country, at least the way we know it today, will survive.

The USPS is just the canary in the coal mine as far as the US budget is concerned.

I think we had all better wake up, and soon...

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