not want to try this at home especially with your mortgage or student loan
payment, but the United States Postal Service has defaulted on a $5.5 billion
payment today and plans to default on a $5.6 billion payment on September 1.
Despite what appear to be pretty big numbers, the defaults don’t seem
to matter because the money is owed -- or maybe not really owed -- to the
If clarity is important to you, stop now because we are entering the Land of
Muddle where spinners and obfuscators abound. Rural Republican legislators
are in a particular quandary because they are required to spin in opposite
directions depending on whether they are pandering to the fiscally prudent,
or to those who like tiny hometown post offices. These can even be the same
Much of the Muddle was created by a really bad breakup in the 1970s when the
postal service and the U.S. Government tried to get divorced. The postal
service wanted to have a career as a stand-alone profit-making entity, but
its control freak government spouse wanted to keep it under a heavy
regulatory thumb. Worse, the control freak spouse is schizophrenic,
alternating between pro-union and deficit hawk leanings. The only certainty
is that “nothing can be closed in my district,” which can be a
challenge if every elected official feels the same way.
Our attention spans don’t do well when two complicated things combine
to create one bad result. If one of the complicated things is bad for your
side, blame the problem on the other.
Complicated thing number one is that mail volume is getting crushed by email,
texting, unlimited phone plans, a decreasing ability to write complete
sentences, and online bill paying to name a few. And mail volume is where the
revenue comes from.
Complicated thing number two is the control freak ex
spouse, which decided to require prefunding of certain health care
costs for retirees back in 2006. Today’s defaulted payment was due a
year ago, and the one due a month from now is for this year.
Though no other entities are required to make similar payments, the control
freak ex spouse has adjourned without resolving the
Here are some of the war cries in the Land of Muddle, at least according to
the spinners. You figure out who’s who:
closings and no stoppage of Saturday deliveries because either or both would
reduce the number of employees and thus union membership.
control freak ex-spouse, let me close 13,000 useless post offices and stop
delivering on Saturdays.
“mailing community” (spin for junk mailers) is concerned about
the continuation of a service they depend on (spin for the cheap postal rates
they buy with political contributions).
ex-spouse and forget about those big payments that nobody else is required to
make. We’ll use the money to keep living a nice lifestyle even if our
revenues are on a death spiral, but we’ll be back to you in a few years
when we need you for alimony.
universal service (you still get mail if you are the Unabomber) no matter
what the cost.
do anything I can get blamed for like close a post office in my district.
alert: the postal service is depending on a $300 million windfall in the next
few months because of…wait for it…
political junk mail.