Pardon me everyone, but the federal government has my knickers in a knot – my panties in a bunch – my trousers in a twist.
Whoever got left in charge of this whole funding mess with the United States Postal Service should be drawn and quartered. Hoisted by their petards.
But first things first. Number one, this is not a rant against my hard-working friends who bring the mail to my house. Second, this is bi-partisan diatribe with equal scolding for both parties, and enough vitriol and venom left over for the Tea Party.
Seems like the feds have things so screwed up in Washington, D.C., that they can't get out of their own way when it comes to balancing the books at the Postal Service.
In February, the muckety-mucks at the Postal Service said they were going to do something about the massive debt they have been hemorrhaging for years by dropping Saturday service.
National Public Radio reported then that head-letter-carrier-in-charge Patrick R. Donahoe -- a.k.a. the Postmaster General and chief executive officer -- confirmed that the USPS lost about $16 billion last year. That's billion with a "B," if you're scoring along at home.
Donahoe told NPR the move to limit Saturday service would save about $2 billion. Bingo. Finally an organization that scratched its figurative head and came up with a 12-percent cost cut. Score one for the good guys.
So just as an aside, here's an inventory of a typical Saturday mail delivery at my house: Natural gas bill, bank statement, college recruiting letter and a lawn service flyer. Hmmm, that seems well worth $2 billion to get delivered, I'd say – not.
Cuts to Saturday service were all set to go into effect the week of August 5th. Under the new plan, there would still be package delivery six days a week and letters on five. When I was a kid, we had to go down to our little hometown post office to retrieve the mail, so it might sit there for days.
But then, lo and behold, NPR followed up this month with a story that Saturday letter delivery was not going away. The unions and the lobbies got their hooks in the decision-making process and suddenly Congress wasn't willing to give up on what 70 percent of Americans approve of, which is dropping Saturday delivery.
George White, chair of postal affairs for the Greeting Card Association, told NPR that, "Saturday mail delivery is a huge advantage that the Postal Service has. By eliminating Saturday service, all they're going to do is accelerate the decline in volume that they have."
Good grief! The government is getting snookered out of $2 billion by the Hallmark lobby? The Posties were willing to slash more than 12 percent of their annual losses, and politicians called point of order? Give me a break!
Or maybe I should give the government a break. The solution to this fiscal mess is right in front of their face, and it holds the promise of putting thousands back to work. All it takes is some politically strained logic, Washington’s own brand of over-simplified arithmetic and a belief that there is a quid pro quo in Beltway politics.
Recently, it was reported that nearly 5.28 million people received unemployment aid in the week that ended March 23, which is down about 10,000 from the week before. About.com tells us the average rank-and-file Congress member makes $174,000 and leadership is bringing home $193,400.
Let's just say we wanted to keep funding Saturday mail service, while putting some of our unemployed folks back to work. Let’s call the program Saving Saturday Shipping.
Now the Census Bureau forecasted that the average per capita income from 2007 to 2011 was $27,915. So doing some really quick arithmetic, if you take $2 billion and divide it by $28,000, you could employ 71,428 people for a year, which is a lot of Saturday letter carriers.
If you raise it up to $35,000, the number drops to 57,143, still roughly 1,142 per state. The government is already spending the money, so why not use it for some good? And if you aren’t going to spend it, then let’s cut Saturday service and be done with it. People will adjust.
Just think what would happen if an economist would propose adding 71,000 jobs to the economy, while not fudging anything new into the budget. Heck, they'd probably throw a parade for a guy or gal who could add 57,000 jobs. Saving Saturday Shipping would be in all the history books. You might even get your picture on a stamp.
Now I realize the logic here is strained at best, but my point is we need to cut the budget and get hard-working Americans back on the job. Congress needs to let the Posties do their thing and save some money. The greeting card lobby will have to take care of itself.