One of the minor irritations that affect millions of people is the steady deterioration in the Post Office. A few of us can remember when we had twice-a-day home mail delivery, next day service, and frequent pickups at mail boxes all over town. Today, there is no dispute about the fact that mail service has deteriorated beyond all reason.
Three years ago, in order to save the mail service from disaster, the personnel was shifted from the precincts of the in-politicians to recruits from the top echelons of the largest businesses in the country. The theory was that private managerial genius would breathe business efficiency into the post office.
This infusion of business expertise hasn’t helped a bit. In fact, the reverse has been true. Costs are going up faster, and letters and packages are delivered slower than before the switch. The post office is a sanctuary where incompetence, deficits, and faulty service are not punished by the free market, but are rewarded by a supplemental appropriation from an indulgent Congress.
The fault is not in who runs the post office. The fault is in the monopoly position of the post office which by its very nature rewards inefficiency. Government is inherently inefficient. There is no competition and no incentive to make a profit. The obvious remedy is to introduce competition so that the sanctions of the free market are continually at work to induce efficiency.
Why is it that Americans have enjoyed more material benefits than any other nation? It is not because we are smarter than other peoples of the world. It is not because we work longer hours. It is not because our land is superior in natural resources. Russia, China, Canada and Brazil are all larger than continental United States.
America has been able to give more good things to more people NOT because Government solved our problems, but because government stayed out of the way and let the initiative and inventiveness of man solve our problems.
Competition is the miracle factor which has given America the highest standard of living of any nation in the world. The areas of our economic life where competition has been the keenest, such as automobiles, airplanes, computers, and food, have given the consumer the best products in the world at the lowest prices. Our progress has been the least in the areas where government monopoly has been the rule, such as sewers, garbage collection, and the post office.
The American public is already the gainer because there are free-enterprise competitors to the post office in the carrying of parcels. It is time to repeal the law that prohibits competitors to the post office in the carrying of first-class mail.
Neither politicians nor businessmen can cure the post office problem. What the post office needs is not new bosses, but new competition.