“Creative” Ideas Could Save Postal Service, Says Ivy League Professor

By Gwen Fishel

During a discussion on the future of the United States Postal Service held on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Dr. Sheldon Garon, a professor of History and East Asian Studies at Princeton University, said the USPS might experience greater revenues if additional services are implemented at post offices across America.

Garon detailed the long historical trajectory of postal savings by banks worldwide in both developing and developed countries, adding that at one time, the United States had a postal saving system, but that the system was phased out by savings bonds during World War II and the FDIC by 1966.

Many other countries, including Germany, France, Switzerland, and Japan, have surviving postal savings banks as well as additional banking and monetary services.

While conceding that savings accounts at the Post Office may seem like a “pretty wacky idea,” Garon went on to explain that additional services might just be the way to save the postal service and increase revenue, especially during a time of exceeding  cuts to funding and major declines in mail volume. He said such services could be “creative,” such as savings/checking accounts, debit cards, money orders, and electronic banking.

Despite a hunger strike held by the Community and Postal Workers United aimed at discouraging privatization, Garon said that partnering with the private sector, if postal banking is restored, would allow access to low income and younger customers.

Garon emphasized, however, that in order for these services to come to fruition, laws need to be changed. Some services offered by the USPS are “grandfathered [in],” but others sit in “murky” standing and probably require legislative adjustments.

“[The] law’s gotta be changed. It’s gotta be modernized,” Garon said.

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  • Mrzip

          Why doesn’t anyone get it.  The current USPS “model” works.  The economic problem with the postal service it the “Postal Service Accountability Act” passed in 2006.  It requires the Postal Service to “pre-fund” retire health care costs for the next 75 years within a 10 year period.  That means taking $5.5 billion dollars from the postal service’s gross receipts every year.  Do this to a company that like Pepsi and it might survive because it can pass those costs onto its customer base.  but the postal service is set up to “break even.”  It’s products are priced NOT to make a profit.  Take away $5.5 billion and of course it’s going to be seriously in the “red.”  
          If we can take a look from another perspective at how ridiculous this law is, logically.  And, if we can agree that it is reasonable to expect a  postal employee retires at age 62. Then pre-funding this employee’s health benefits 75 years in advance would happen 13 years before they were born.
        Repeal the Postal Service Accountability Act of 2006 and no big changes in the postal service will be needed.
        Two final notes.  No other business (private, public or government) is forced to meet this requirement.   The United states Postal Service receives $0 tax dollars.  Everyone like to poke fun at the USPS, but in reality, it’s the only branch of the government that ISN’T a burden on the taxpayer!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5SS4VA7BXZP4DCFGT3ETCZTPDQ robert

    Actually, it is the “postal accountability and enhancement act”.  As Mrzip says, it requires pre-funding of employees retirement for 75 years in a 10 year window.  As information, in 75 years if the current trend of beating up on postal employees continues, there will be NO employees who will be eligible to collect any of that money, and the government will just steal it and put it in the general fund.  Really think about it, the accounts that have this money are already OVERFUNDED (by 105% it’s public info, look it up) and none of the current employees will be around in 75 years, in fact, employees that potentially could collect this money, have not even been born yet!!!!

  • Joden

    Dr. Garon, The USPS has tried to offer many ancillary services. All have been denied. It seems the “private sector” really doesn’t want your post office to provide you with anything other than stamps.

  • Earlgeorge

    if you only knew how many ‘GOOD” ideas have been submitted by employees through the years only to be ignored by mgt.

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