American businessman Lee Iacocca’s once said, “One of the things the government can’t do is run anything. The only things our government runs are the post office and the railroads, and both of them are bankrupt.” The words of Lee Iacocca hold rich prophetic warnings for the future of American health care.
Why? Because the Postal Service is rolling out plans to cut services from six to five days. Faced with a projected “$238 billion short fall in revenue,” the USPS must make, “deep cuts if the independent agency founded by Benjamin Franklin is to survive.” Then again what does one expect from a group that issued a Howdy Doody postage stamp?
Postmaster General John Potter said the need to cut services results from, “mounting problems for years, squeezed by the rise of e-mail and online bill-paying, competition from private delivery companies like FedEx and UPS, and, more recently, hit hard in the recession.”
Although technology has impacted revenues, government regulations are largely responsible for keeping the agency from privatizing, making it impossible for USPS to compete with privately owned parcel delivery services.
Truth is the post office is indicative of a larger predicament that develops whenever government attempts to provide citizens with a service, be it delivering letters or healthcare.
Christmas cards arriving on Thursday, instead of Saturday, have little affect on wellbeing, but dying because healthcare is unavailable over the weekend, is quite another story. And while proposed Postal Service fixes may stem the influx of annoying circulars, cutbacks foreshadow America’s future when similar fiscal issues eventually besiege a bureaucratic healthcare system void of competition.
Take for instance, scaling back mail delivery from six to five days, which is a 17% decrease. If similar percentages were applied to let’s say cutting services to 17% of the people that would translate into 50 million individuals, all of whom would be impacted by government remedies for economic dilemmas.
Another fix the USPS is proposing to address the budgetary crisis, is “modernization” of customer access by closing “underutilized post offices and [providing] services in more convenient locations such as grocery stores, pharmacies, retail centers and office supply stores.” Why are similar scenarios so easy to envision like Americans lining up at 7-Eleven for a complimentary Big Gulp and a throat culture? Or how about going to Wal-Mart for a cost saving, neighborhood friendly MRI, or being the recipient of a colonoscopy while medical records are simultaneously scanned or collated at a local Staples copy center?
The post office hopes to save money by reducing the size of the workforce through attrition. Attrition is, “a gradual, natural reduction in membership or personnel, through retirement, resignation, or death.” Health care reform could easily institute a similar cost saving approach, where dependent people are reduced by “attrition.” Case in point, budgetary cuts demand denial of care, resulting in natural reduction, or attrition by death.
Diminishing services and increasing costs are venues where government excels, regardless of the service. In an attempt to garner much needed revenue the post office yet again plans to jack up stamp prices. Americans shackled to government healthcare can expect higher taxes rushing in like a rising tide, as access and quality ebb away.
Presently, the issue of USPS “universal service obligation” is being bandied about as is the, “minimal level of service that the Postal Services is required to provide to all customers.”
In the interim, Americans should pay attention to what lays ahead for America as the government that mismanaged and regulated the USPS into insignificance, now controls national healthcare.