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Europe's Getting Out of the National Mail Business, Why Not the U.S.?

Noting that national postal services throughout the entire European Union are set to be opened to competition within the next two years, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council chief economist Raymond Keating writes that it's time to privatize the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service:

You know the U.S. Postal Service is inefficient when President Barack Obama takes a jab. [...]

At an Aug. 11 town hall meeting in New Hampshire, Obama was trying to defend his health care plan against the charge that a government-run plan would have an unfair advantage over private insurers. The president reportedly said: "I mean, if you think about it, UPS and Fedex are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It's the post office that’s always having problems."

Acknowledging that the government cannot run a mail delivery system well does not seem to be the best strategy for justifying a government-run health care system, but that’s a topic for another column. [...]

A government-run post office might have been justified during the early days of the country. But especially given the dramatic changes in the marketplace in recent times – including the Internet, UPS and Fedex, not to mention mobile communications devices – no reason exists for government to be in the mail business.

Postal service privatization, for example, is spreading across Europe, with mail service throughout the European Union scheduled to be open to competition starting in 2011.

Indeed, it's time to privatize. Float a stock offering, and submit the U.S. Postal Service to the rigors of the free market, including prices, profits, losses, competition and ultimately, the preferences of consumers.

» Reason Foundation's Privatization Research and Commentary

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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