It has been a while since we last heard from the so-called “Consumer Postal Council”, the self-styled postal “watchdog” which is in reality a front for the radical libertarian lobbying group, the Lexington Institute. Lexington VP Don Soifer, who refers to himself as the “executive director” of the “Council” when he pontificates on postal matters, has written a rather odd opinion piece that was published in today’s Tennessean. In it Soifer comes up with a new talking point: the USPS is “ignoring the little guy”.
This is an interesting position for an organization funded not by “postal consumers”, but by big corporate sponsors; and which has been called “basically a front for defense contractors” by Forbes magazine.
Soifer contends that the USPS is harming the “little guy” by offering its Parcel Select service only to “big mailers”. Parcel Select allows shippers to drop packages close to their destinations, paying the USPS only for “last mile” delivery service:
In theory, everyone benefits. Local post offices don’t have to sort packages headed for all corners of the country. Businesses can save money on shipping by presorting their packages themselves and relying on consolidators to deliver them all to a few central locations. And shipping companies make money by delivering bulk packages more efficiently than the Postal Service could hope to do.
In short, parcel select is one of the best deals the Postal Service offers. But ordinary Americans â€” its household, monopoly consumers â€” aren’t eligible to get in on it.
The piece makes Soifer’s lack of knowledge about the postal service obvious (local post offices don’t “sort packages headed for all corners of the country”). More importantly, though, it just doesn’t make any sense.
In the first place, it’s difficult to see how Parcel Select would be of any use to the typical “postal consumer”. I’m not going to fly a thousand miles so I can “drop ship” my parcel and save a few pennies. More importantly, Soifer doesn’t seem to understand who receives those Parcel Select packages- postal consumers!
Soifer’s attempt to cloak his attack in populism ignores the fact that eliminating discounts for “big mailers” would in the end simply raise costs for their customers- the very consumers Soifer claims to defend.