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It’s a cliche, I know. People say Government running health care? Have you been to the Post Office lately? That’s what it’ll be like.
But, seriously: that’s what it’ll be like. The parallels are eerie: runaway costs, zero commitment to quality, hostility towards market competition, public employee union graft.
To understand where the advocates of big government will take this country, look at the U.S. Postal Service.
Start with the fact the Postal Service is a great jobs machine,employing 712,000 people at an average annual compensation, including wages and benefits, of $83,000. And those hefty pay checks are a great source of political contributions for Democrats. In 2010, almost 90 percent of the approximately $4 million contributed to campaigns by postal unions went to Democrats. Take a guess where much of the opposition to reform comes from.
But high-priced labor, which accounts each year for about 80 percent of costs, leads to high-priced mail services, and even higher costs for taxpayers. Over the past 10 years, the price of a stamp has risen from 33 cents to 44 cents, exceeding the inflation rate at a time when computerization should have been leading to big cost savings. Even so the Postal Service lost about $6 billion this year and by its own projections it will drop a cool $238 billion over the next decade. By 2020, the last year in the projections, the Postal Service will be losing $33 billion annually.
How, exactly, will national health care be any different? Especially because the goal of Obama’s health reform is to eliminate, ultimately, any kind of private competition. As in:
The Postal Service is able to survive because U.S. law protects it with not one but two monopolies. First, it is the only entity that is allowed to deliver many types of mail. There are a few exceptions that have allowed FedEx Corp., United Parcel Service Inc. and bicycle carriers to flourish, but low- cost, high-volume letters are walled off from competition from other providers.
Second, the Postal Service actually has a legal monopoly over your privately owned mailbox. You bought it, but if another company starts to use it as a receptacle for letters, they are violating federal law.
The solution to the Post Office Problem is to privatize it, which will take enormous political momentum — it’s always hard to take away someone’s fat sinecure. I wonder if the Tea Party is up to it.
Is there any doubt that ObamaCare in, say, 20 years will have the same runaway costs, the same crushing system of labor perks, the same attitude towards customer service?