Postal Service As a Monopoly

In the United States economy most markets can be classified into four
different markets structures. But, each and every market in the United
States is completely unique from the others. Generally the best type of
market structure for the general public is per-fect competition because
it creates the lowest possible price for the public. There are some
exceptions were perfect competition isnít the best choice for the public
on account of various reasons. The United States Postal Service is one
of them and since the Postal Service is a monopoly, it is its own
market. This paper will discuss the budget dilemmas that the postal
service has faced for the past twenty years and if it is in the best
interest of the economy for the United States Postal Service to continue
as a monopoly.
The first time there was talk of privatizing the Postal Service was
in1979 when the Postal Service was losing vast amounts of money in the
long run. But since the Postal Service is a necessity for America, the
government had to subsidize the service in order for it to continue in
operation. In 1979 the United States Postal Service had a cash flow of
$22.5 Billion and was additionally receiving $176 million from
investing(#1, Intro). Even with this added revenue the Postal Service
was still greatly under funded on its own (#1, Intro). During this time
it was discussed to privatize the postal service and introduce
competition because of the extreme losses that the service was
experiencing. A positive argument for privatizing the Postal Service
was with numerous competitors in the market there would be more
efficiency and the public would receive lower prices. But this would
also increase the usage of resources, for example airplanes and cars.
One of the problems the Post Office had was its receipts from consumer
purchases that were submitted the next day after the transaction (#1,
i). If the receipts were submitted earlier the postal service would
receive more money because they could invest that money sooner (#1, i).
Another way the Postal Service could increased profits was by
competitively selecting banks that would give them higher interest rates
and such (#1, ii). Probably the most relevant and final way to improve
the budget of the Postal Service is to improve the bookkeeping poli-cies
and banking techniques (#1, ii).
Not only did the Post Service propose to increase profits but they also
proposed to cut costs in a number of ways. There were three methods
that were proposed in 1946 for the protection of salaries that no longer
exists (#2, Intro). These have to do with the rural mail carriers.
Under this antiquated method of delivering mail the Postal Service was
los-ing money to any mail that went to "rural" areas (#2, i) There are
48,000 mail carriers that deliver mail to millions of families that are
considered to be living in rural settings; this costs the postal Service
858 million dollars a year (#2, i). This is a fairly easy problem to
fix considering how much money is being lost. It was proposed that
money loss could be significantly cut down if the Postal Service
corrected the following problems. The rural mail carriers were assigned
a certain amount of time to deliver to a specific rural area, this
method was out of date and because of this the carriers have free time
for which they got paid for (#2, ii). The next problem was that other
mail routes based pay on how many miles the route covered, so the
carriers were getting paid by the mile (#2, iii). With this problem
fixed the Postal Service could saved 26.8 million a year (#2, iii).
There was also an hourly rate that was in effect which indirectly
promoted inefficient service (#2, iii). A stop to this could have saved
the Postal Service $255,000 a year (#2, iii). From the num-bers
mentioned above, it can be seen why the United States Postal Service was
losing so much money.
These problems did indeed eventually did get solved over the past
fifteen years and now the Postal Service is making record breaking
profits. Now in the first quarter of the fiscal year 1996 the Postal
Service already has a net income of $1.2 billion (#3, 1). Now not only
is the Postal Service just breaking even, but they are also making a
profit. On top of that, the 1.2 billion dollar figure is 115 billion
dollars better then the quarterly forecast predicted (#3,1). It is
incredible that they are not only making a reasonable profit but