Cato Policy Analysis No. 47 February 12, 1985

Policy Analysis

The Last Dinosaur:
The U.S. Postal Service

by James Bovard

James Bovard has written widely on the Postal Service.


Executive Summary

Mail service is becoming slower, more expensive, and less reliable. The price of a first-class stamp will go up to 22 this month--a 633 percent increase since 1958. First-class mail delivery is 10 percent slower than it was 15 years ago, and Postmaster General William Bolger concedes that postal delivery may have been more reliable in the 1920s.[1]

The United States Postal Service (U.S.P.S.) is probably the worst managed and one of the least honest corporations in America. One innovation after another has failed as the Postal Service struggles to enter the twentieth century. The service spends tens of millions of dollars each year to deceive the public about the poor quality of mail service. From mail delivery times to productivity increases to nine-digit zip codes, the Postal Service turns out reams of misleading information.

Americans are suffering a gradual extinction of mail service. In the past 15 years, the U.S.P.S. has intentionally slowed mail delivery, cut back on mail collection pickups, shortened the target zone for overnight delivery, reduced business deliveries, imposed strict requirements on the size of letters it will accept, and begun the abolition of home delivery. Congress is considering ending Saturday mail delivery.

The federal government has a monopoly on the delivery of first-class mail; as a result, the Postal Service is the country's third-largest employer. Like all monopolies, the postal monopoly is abused, as the government forces people to accept increasingly worse service at ever higher prices.

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1985 The Cato Institute
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