Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution states that “[The Congress shall have Power] To establish Post Offices and post Roads.” This is the foundation of the United States Postal Service (USPS), one of the few things our government does with valid Constitutional authority.
The idea behind the Postal Service was to provide a reliable, inexpensive way for the people, businesses, and government of the United States to communicate with one another and ‘grease the wheels’ of our society and economy. In the 1780s when the document was written, there were no telegraphs, telephones, Internets, or Twitters to use for our intercommunication. Mail was it. Needless to say, times have changed.
We don’t necessarily need a Postal Service today—especially not one with a federally enforced monopoly on the transmission of letters. The text of the Constitution does not require the government to operate a Postal Service, it merely gives them the authority to establish one if they choose. It’s time to disband the federal Postal Service by privatizing it and ending its monopoly on letter carriage. It’s time to allow FedEx and UPS to compete directly with, or even purchase, the existing USPS entity and its infrastructure.
John Potter, current Postmaster General, knows that things have to change at USPS. He doesn’t, however, talk about privatization. He defends the existence of the Postal Service, but apparently doesn’t concede that its time as a federally protected monopoly should be coming to an end. There will probably always be a need for mail—especially package delivery, though letter delivery has its increasingly-limited place too. There is not a need, however, for a government-established mail monopoly in the United States anymore. Congress should end the monopoly and privatize the agency with one simple regulation: the USPS and any other business that chooses to engage in private mail delivery across state lines must offer delivery to all residences and businesses in the United States, just like the current Postal Service does.