Take a guess before you read too far:
His last quarter’s results,
which were announced on Wednesday, revealed a loss of $2.4 billion. The
business is on track to lose a staggering $7 billion in 2009, on around
$68 billion in revenue. That’s practically General Motors territory.What
can he do to fix the situation? Surprisingly little. His employees have
clauses in their union contracts that forbid layoffs. Nor can he
renegotiate their gold-plated benefits, the way, say, the auto
companies did when their backs were against the wall. Political
pressure makes it nearly impossible to shut down any of his company’s
34,000 facilities, no matter how outmoded or little used. He can borrow
money, but under the law, he can add only $3 billion in debt a year…
Every year between now and 2016, he has to put aside over $5 billion to
finance health benefits for future employees. You read that right:
future employees. There isn’t another business in the country that
finances benefits for employees it hasn’t even hired yet.
…A few weeks ago, the Government Accountability Office added the Postal Service to its list of “high risk” federal agencies,
meaning that it is in such dire straits that it needs “to restructure
to address its current and long-term financial viability.” Indeed, if
something doesn’t change by the fall, the Postal Service will have to
renege on those health benefit prepayments – despite its legal
obligation to pay them – or start missing payroll.
That's from the NYT, not The Weekly Standard. They are also talking of moving to mail delivery only five days of week, an idea which originated from the postal service itself. Many private businesses, in contrast, prefer to respond to crisis by trying to sell more of their product. In fairness, it should be noted that the institution had a better record in the 2001-2006 period.