Their proposed solution to the U.S. Postal Service’s $8 billion deficit is Congressman Darrell Issa’s Postal Reform Act, which would reduce mail delivery to five days a week, allow advertising at post offices and on postal vehicles, and reduce postal workers’ benefits.
If the tea party movement is as radically anti-government as some make it out to be, this seems like an odd piece of legislation to promote. It merely tweaks the way the postal service functions; it does nothing to address the real problem, which is that the USPS is a government-run monopoly. If the bill passes, some tax dollars might be saved in the very short term, but the USPS will be just as badly managed as it always has been, and it will continue to rack up huge deficits. Take away one way for it to lose money, and it will surely find others.
At best, this bill seems to reflect the idea that government could be efficient if only it were “run like a business” — just cut some expenses, increase some revenue, and all could be well. But as Ludwig von Mises explained in Bureaucracy, any attempt to run a governmental organization as though it were a private business will fail because the organization still will not be able to engage in economic calculation and still will not be able to operate on a meaningful profit-and-loss basis as private businesses do. Postal workers and managers will still be focused on how to comply with bureaucratic rules, not on how to make money.
The only “reform” that can “fix” this is genuine privatization — that is, taking away the postal service’s monopoly privileges and subsidies and forcing it to either make a profit or go out of business.
I suspect that this bill’s promoters have little to do with the grassroots tea party; the finer details of postal policy are not the sort of thing that inspires a mass movement. I hope tea partiers who care about liberty — and I know there are many — will do as their figurehead Michelle Bachmann claims to do and read Mises, and then see why it’s pointless to waste time promoting legislation like this that doesn’t address the fundamental problems that have given rise to the big government they say they dislike so much.