We appreciate the interest in the U.S. Postal Service shown in the editorial “Return to sender” (Dec. 17). That said, Post-Dispatch readers deserve a broader depiction of the postal situation.
The Postal Service provides St. Louisans and their businesses, along with Americans everywhere, with the industrial world’s most affordable delivery network — all without a dime of taxpayer money. USPS helps unify this vast country, which is what led the Founders to include the post office in the Constitution.
During the holiday season, letter carriers not only deliver the largest portion of gift packages, they also bring residents millions of packages from the private carriers, which drop those packages off at post offices for “last-mile” delivery — saving them and their customers money because letter carriers already go to every address six or even seven days a week.
USPS, which by law funds itself through the sale of stamps and related items, has averaged about $1 billion in annual operating profits in recent years. About 90 percent of the red ink you hear about stems from flawed public policy. In 2006, a lame-duck Congress mandated that USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits to the tune of about $5.6 billion a year. No other public agency or private company has to pre-fund these expenses even one year into the future; USPS has to do it 75 years in advance.
If lawmakers from Missouri and elsewhere address that unique and unfair burden, the Postal Service can continue to provide Americans with the delivery services they expect and deserve.
Fredric Rolando • Washington, D.C.
President, the National Association of Letter Carriers
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