Should U.S. Postal Service Monopoly Be Abolished?

Chairman James C. Miller III of the Federal Trade Commission (Editorial Pages, Feb. 28) continues to beat a tired refrain. He has consistently hammered away at the postal monopoly. He should switch his target and take on utility companies and their constant and outrageous rate increases. They're terrific examples of how costs are held down by private companies.

Miller uses the Pony Express as an example of why the monopoly granted to the U.S. Postal Service should be abolished and private companies allowed to deliver mail. Currently, many private companies do deliver mail, under restrictions imposed by the private express statute, and believe me these firms cater to the business community and large cities not to the general public, small towns or rural areas of the country.

Miller in his tirade against the postal service neglects to mention that the Pony Express existed less than 18 months, went broke, and did not deliver mail directly to addressees. Rather the Pony Express, under contract to the Post Office Department, carried mail to post offices or post office contractors in the western United States. The mail was then delivered by the post offices or contractors to the addressees. This is very similar to what airlines, under contract to the U.S. Postal Service, are currently doing.

Miller also mentions the "early days of our nation when private postal companies carried letters." The operative phrase is "carried" letters. While Wells, Fargo & Co. and Adams Express did do some limited delivery of letters, within the framework of the private express statute, they basically carried mail under contract to post offices or contractors and the mail was then delivered by the latter to the addressees.

Further, these early private firms charged an inordinate amount of money to deliver the mail and all of them either went broke doing so or closed down their end of the "mail delivery" business.

Miller is aware that every country in the world operates a government mail system; that the majority, if not all, of these countries are members of the International Postal Union (Congress); and that few member countries would trust their valuable or official mail or even the mail of their countrymen/women to the United States if all deliveries were to be made by private firms, any number of which could close down or file bankruptcy at any time.

Imagine sacks of mail abandoned somewhere because a private delivery firm wouldn't or couldn't continue business. Little time would elapse before the "private" mail firms would get on the bandwagon and increase postal rates several hundred percent, as utility and telephone companies have done in recent times.



I couldn't wait to write this letter to express my wholehearted agreement with FTC Chairman Miller. It is time to break up the postal service monopoly, just as it was time to break up the AT&T; monopoly a year ago. The AT&T; breakup sure saved us consumers a bundle of money, and I'm sure the breakup of the postal service will save consumers a lot of money too! With all the money I will be saving on postage stamps, I will have enough money to make a phone call, all the way to the other side of town! While we're at it, let's break up the Federal Trade Commission too!


Woodland Hills

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