Small business owners know how important it is to confront their problems head on, and right away. If you wait, the problem won’t go away. Bad news does not get better with age. And the longer you wait before dealing with the problem, the worse the cure.
While these principles are obvious in the business world, they are just as true in the public sector. Government has to deal with problems—and fast—or they can spiral out of control. That’s what has happened to the US Postal Service. It’s important for entrepreneurs to pay attention to politics because we have the kind of common sense and clear thinking that our country so desperately needs!
The Postal Service has been in dire straits for some time now. The agency is crippled by its costs while its revenue continues to slide. Thanks to technology, people use the post office’s services less and less. Meanwhile, the bill is coming due for pensions promised in earlier, more cash-rich times. Those promises are unsustainable. It’s a problem many states and cities are encountering, too.
To confront these problems, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe proposed shutting down thousands of post offices and hundreds of processing centers, cutting Saturday delivery, and reforming the agency’s health insurance program.
We have known about these issues for a long time, but it’s taken Washington just as long to get around to working toward a solution. A big problem with waiting so long to tackle the problem is that any politically viable solution is likely to be too little, too late.
That’s exactly what has happened this week. The Senate approved a bill to try to deal with these problems, but no one is pleased with where it’s going. The bill incorporates none of the Postmaster General’s proposals. Mr. Donahoe says this merely means the Postal Service is kicking the can down the road for another few years.
As the Washington Post editorial board wrote today, the main savings “are paid for by creative accounting. . . The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill will increase deficits by more than $6 billion over the next 10 years.” And the total cost for the bill is $33.6 billion—just more costs we can’t afford because we ignored the problem for so long and let it get too big.
The world of politics is messy and unseemly. I know many of my fellow entrepreneurs want to stay out of it. But the truth is: we can’t. Common sense people are what we need to solve problems, like those that the Post Office is experiencing, before they get this far.