As I was going through my daily list of blogs that I read, I stumbled upon an article by Jacob Hornberger advocating an end on the postal monopoly. This caught my attention because I argued for the very same thing in my AP Government class in high school. Of course, many of my fellow students thought that idea was lunacy (which it probably the same thing they thought of me, as I frequently brought up similar ideas…).
Simply put, the government monopoly on first class mail is a clear use of coercion to prop up an inefficient business and keep out competition, thus keeping prices at a predetermined level instead of at a competitive market rate. This is unacceptable, incompatible with a free society, and an inefficient use of resources. Advocates of the postal monopoly claim that without the monopoly, the USPS could not run. They go on to argue that without the USPS, there would not be universal letter delivery. This argument is simply false, and was proven wrong all the way back in 1844 when Lysander Spooner started the American Letter Mail Company and almost drove the USPS out of business in a matter of months. The USPS used government force to shut him down and have done the same to several companies since. Could letter mail be delivered to remote places without the USPS? Of course. Remote places are provided with the necessities of life, yet there is no government office in charge of distributing food to everyone in the nation (yet…).
You might laugh at the previous paragraph, but you do not live in fear of bread not being available tomorrow, yet the government does not provide such things. Who does? Individuals in the marketplace. Production of bread is a staple of almost all Americans’ lives, but no one is worried about it being provided, even though firms on the market provide it. Would first class mail be any different? Of course not. The postal monopoly is unnecessary. It is only government coercion backed up with poor arguments, which shield other political reasons for its existence.
It is time to amend Article I, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, striking the claus that says “Congress shall have power to establish post-offices and post roads.” Though I am in favor of getting rid of the USPS entirely, that is unnecessary since it will most likely not be able to compete with other firms once the force-backed barrier to entry is lifted.
If you have any questions or concerns, or disagree with me, I would love to hear it, so email me or post a comment. My email address: cagrimmett [at] gmail [dot] com
Here are some sources to read on this topic:
Why Not Abolish the Postal Monopoly? by Jacob G. Hornberger
Postal Commissars to Raise Rates. Don’t Complain. by Ted Roberts
The Unconstitutionality of the Laws of Congress, Prohibiting Private Mails by Lysander Spooner
The Last Dinosaur: The U.S. Postal Service by James Bovard
4 responses to “Day 84 – Abolish the Postal System’s Monopoly”
Why not get rid of USPS? I remember years ago when they began deregulation on the long distance phone system. AT&T had it all wrapped up until then. Look how well it has evolved since. Many systems providing good if not great long distance service. At the very least, USPS needs competition!
Great post Chuck. I heartily agree that the USPS should be abolished or at least privatized. But what would happen with the striking of “post roads?” Would all road construction become privatized as well?
Mom – I am in favor of getting rid of USPS, but I argued that going though the bureaucratic debate of getting rid of it right away is unnecessary since once the barrier to entry in the first-class mail market is gone, the USPS won’t be able to compete. It does need to be gotten rid of, however, because the government might keep propping it up after it is no longer competitive (thus wasting tax dollars). Sooner is better than later, but there needs to be a few month grace period where private firms can set up the infrastructure necessary to take over mail delivery.
Will – I must admit that I forgot about that being the part of the constitution which keeps roads public and operated by the government. Don’t get me wrong…I think roads should be privatized as well. More on this at another time, however. I was only referring to that clause in relation to the postal system in this post, though.