Why did the post office lose $1 billion?

The International Herald Tribune reports that the U.S. Postal Service has posted a $1.1 billion dollar loss in the past quarter. What are the reasons for this huge loss? First, total mail volume is down 5.5% from last year, likely due to the economic slowdown and the gradual increase in internet communication over time. Also, as oil prices increase, the cost to ship letters and parcels has gone up as well. Further, there is the legendary Post Office service. Let me give you an example from my experience mailing a package on Friday.

Post Office Employee (POE): Next!

Healthcare Economist (HE): Hello. I would like to mail this package and buy a book of stamps.

POE: Is there anything hazardous or fragile in this package?

HE: Yes, it is fragile. There is a glass framed picture in the box.

The post office employee proceeds to stamp a “Fragile” on the package in bright red letters. I pick out a book of stamps and pay for the transaction. As I begin to turn to leave the post office, the employee picks up my “Fragile” package and flings it 5 feet into the air into a hole leading to an empty bin in back room…Kah-plunk! That is how fragile packages are treated at the USPS?!?!?!

Next time, I’ll use UPS.