The United States Postal Service has been getting attacked. People who fear President Trump’s criticism of vote-by-mail suspect that the USPS will hamper the vote. And many were quick to attack recent USPS changes as a harbinger of a post office slowdown that could undermine the vote.
I don’t know what will happen on November 3. As a transportation and logistics investor, I tend to stay focused on supply chain topics. But I do know that the USPS has a real problem. As Postmaster General Louis DeJoy notes, the USPS lost $2.2 billion last quarter. That isn’t sustainable.
Some have challenged DeJoy, stating that an entrepreneur shouldn’t be in public service. I think this premise is misguided. If successful business leaders are deterred from applying their talents in government, who will serve the public?
So… what should the USPS do?
In my view, there are three options.
First, the USPS could ignore the political blowback and focus on cutting costs to put the USPS on a path to break-even. This has the advantage of being fiscally responsible. However, it has the disadvantage of alienating Democrats and others who worry that the USPS won’t be able to provide a reliable delivery service during the elections.
Second, the USPS could ignore the mounting red ink and simply recommit to providing the postal services needed to ensure on-time delivery during this pandemic. However, this strategy continues a financially unsustainable path.
Third, the USPS could seek a middle ground. They could lay out a plan to cut costs over the next year. At the same time, the USPS could articulate a plan for how to ensure that all citizens who vote by a certain date (e.g. October 30) have their votes delivered by November 3. This could satisfy everyone’s objectives.
I’d welcome your feedback!