USPS: Why don’t we just throw another couple billion around?

Last week, the United States Postal Service reported its latest quarterly financials — a $2.4 billion loss. Compare that result against the same quarter last year (pre-stock market dive), when the USPS lost only a mere $1.1 billion …

But what the heck? Why doesn’t the government throw a few more billions of dollars around? That’s probably in the cards, because Postmaster General Jack Potter has let it be known that the USPS may be on track for losing as much as $7 billion for the year … and that’s even if the USPS follows through on its plans to shutter ~3,200 post office locations (nearly 10% of the total).

Of course, one of the reasons for the sorry financials is a decline of USPS operating revenue on the order of around 9%. The most recent postal rate hike couldn’t make up for the ~14% decrease in mail volume, which dipped not just because of the recession but also because of changing communications practices, online bill-paying and the never-ending growth of e-mail.

Still, those volume declines are not as steep or as challenging as many private-industry companies have faced in their industries. Could it be that the USPS, as a government entity with all of the bureaucracy and HR/personnel strictures that entails, simply cannot be as nimble and flexible as firms in private industry? And what does this portend for us in the realm of government-managed healthcare?

Maybe the words of singer-songwriter Bobby McFerrin are applicable here: “Don’t worry. Be happy.”

Besides, what’s the alternative — clinical depression?