03/30/2015 – A recent “study” by a Harvard-educated economist asserting the Postal Service has an “unfair competitive advantage” over private-sector delivery companies has garnered a lot of attention in recent days. The “study” by Robert J. Shapiro was the subject of articles in the Washington Post and Fortune, and was the centerpiece of a panel discussion at the well-known Brookings Institution on March 25.
The headline in Fortune was eye-catching, to say the least: ‘American Taxpayers Give an $18 Billion Gift to the Post Office Every Year,’ the Wall Street mouthpiece asserted.
But so far, discussion of Shapiro’s claims has omitted a crucial detail: The study was financed by United Parcel Service, the Postal Service’s chief private-sector competitor and a long-time proponent of postal privatization.
“UPS has advocated privatization of the Postal Service for more than 30 years,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “So it’s not surprising that the company would make these wild claims.
“It’s troubling, however, that the liberal Brookings Institution would feature Shapiro at an event that was promoted as a serious discussion of the future of the Postal Service without revealing that his research was provided by UPS.
“There’s a lesson there,” Dimondstein added. “Postal privatizers come from both major political parties.” Shapiro, who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard, runs Sonecon, Inc., a private economic consulting firm. He was Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs in the Clinton administration and advised the campaigns and transition of Barack Obama.
“This fancy, footnoted study is nothing more than an effort to turn over our public Postal Service to the private sector,” Dimondstein said.