In response to this week’s news that the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service is facing $238 in losses over the coming decade, Charles Krauthammer lamented the inevitable demise of the government mail monopoly:
As a conservative who believes in the market, it ought to die, but as a conservative that believes in tradition and stuff that really holds us together, I would subsidize until it dies a natural death in the next generation. But for old guys like me, keep it going for a while.[As for] the hard-hearted younger generation — well, if you ever got a sweet-smelling love letter at 17, you’d feel otherwise. Of course, I never did, but somebody did.You can’t smell your e-mail.
But, look, anything that is in Article 1 Section 8 of our constitution, anything that Madison had waxed enthusiastic about it in Federalist 42 — the postal roads that have kept us together — as an old-school guy, I don’t want to see it die.
Look, it’s very obvious that you can’t privatize this. Three studies have looked at the postal service. Because of the new technology there is no entrepreneur in his right mind who would purchase it. So it’s going to be on the government dole forever.The question is, is it completely obsolete? Look, it has one mandate which other private services don’t have. It has to reach every tiny hamlet everywhere in the country no matter what. It’s got to be universal. So that’s a slight handicap that the private companies don’t have.Its main handicap, of course, is the crushing labor union contracts and the new technology, especially e-mail, which makes most of what it does obsolete. So that’s why it runs a huge deficit.
[T]here are many things in American life that have had a great history, for example the cavalry. Yet, we do not do cavalry charges anymore. We must recognize that there are many institutions that long ago passed into history.