Curious what pure, unadulterated government efficiency in practice, if not in theory, looks like? Then the following chart of USPS operating profits, pardon, losses over the past decade should be sufficient. The punchline: having generated revenues of nearly $700 billion in the past 40 quarters, the USPS has been bleeding red ink more or less consistently since 2006, and has now generated just over $47 billion in operating losses over the past ten years.
It gets better.
From the WSJ: "The USPS said its total liabilities were $67.16 billion at the end of the period, compared with $23.16 billion in assets."
That means the net capital deficiency, or "cost", to keep the USPS alive, amounts to some $44 billion as of this moment (which includes $3.1 billion in contributions from the US government and a $47 billion deficit since the 1971 reorganization).
Continuing: "The Postal Service reached its $15 billion credit limit with the Treasury Department in 2012. Under law, the USPS must pay its own way. It doesn't receive an annual taxpayer subsidy, but is reimbursed by Congress for some services such as delivering mail to the blind and overseas voters. The agency is saddled with a congressional mandate that requires it to prefund more than $5.5 billion annually for health benefits for future retirees. The service said Monday that it won't be able to make its required $5.7 billion payment by Sept. 30."
In other words, more pension accruals that will never be paid out until, finally, the administration has no option but to make the payment on behalf of the postal service (thank you PBGC).
Finally, one may ask: why doesn't this bloated, anachronistic, money-losing zombie just go away and make way for the far more efficient and nimble private sector? After all, there are countless companies which could step in and do what the USPS does for a fraction of the cost?
Simple. The answer:
- 489,727 career employees.
- 137,037 non-career employees.
Or, as they are better known in D.C., voters.