Have you checked the mail today? There might just be a package for you. After all, the holiday season is the busiest time of year for mail delivery.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) was once even busier. Before phones and email, Americans relied on the post office to communicate with people far away.
The 13 Colonies set up the post office in 1775 to ensure reliable mail delivery. Today the USPS is part of the federal government. The post office pays for its operations by selling postage and through services such as post office box rentals.
However, earning enough to pay its workers is a challenge. Private companies such as UPS compete for business. Plus, Americans are sending fewer letters. In 2022, the post office delivered about 79 billion fewer pieces of mail than in 2004.
This year, the USPS is projected to lose $4.5 billion. But being a federal institution limits the changes it can make to earn more money. For example, the post office is required to deliver mail nationwide six days a week.
The USPS’s financial troubles have prompted some people to call for it to become a private company. But others say it should remain part of the government to guarantee mail delivery for all Americans.
Should the government run the post office? Two experts weigh in.