Exponent editorial

Is the U.S. Postal Service out of control?

(May 21) Is the U.S. Postal Service out of control?

Many seem to think so, especially with last week's news that the agency received approval to raise the price of a stamp -- again. In light of the fact that the Postal Service has made annual profits of more than $1 billion for the past three years, the increase seems particularly ludicrous.

Giving the OK to the increase was the Postal Rate Commission, an independent entity. In approving the 1-cent increase, some members even seemed to doubt its necessity. Many of them reportedly believed that the agency may have "seriously misestimated its need for a rate hike," but went on to "reluctantly" pass the rate hike anyway.

And when will this increase go into effect? No one knows for sure. The Postal Service's Board of Governors, the presidentially appointed panel that oversees the nation's mail service, is to meet June 2 to discuss the matter. And senior postal executives say they will pressure the board to have the rate hike imposed as soon as possible.

Postal executives argue that the agency may "crash and burn" unless it spends billions on new equipment to compete with its growing high-tech competition, such as e-mail.

That would appear unlikely. The Postal Service is expected to make another $1 billion in profits this year. And Postal Rate Commission Chairman Edward J. Gleiman, during a news conference announcing the rate hike, wondered aloud if the agency would even be able to spend the $720 million it budgeted for new equipment this year. He noted that it has only spent $116 million to date.

Realistically, most of us will probably just gripe a little over the increase; after all, it's only a penny. But those pennies add up to about a billion in profits for the post office. And that's something to think about.

--Kevin S. Courtney