An Alternative to the Furlough, or, The First Step to a Balanced Budget

I live in a single-income household of five people.  That’s already tricky, at times.  Now, that one income has been cut by 20%.  That makes us all really nervous.

So I started looking into other ways the government could save money without having to resort to these ridiculous cuts to the Department of Defense.  The first thing I thought of was the Postal Service, because I seemed to recall that it was a sinkhole.

Sure enough, I find this article:

The U.S. Postal Service said its net loss last year widened to $15.9 billion, more than the $15 billion it had projected, as mail volume continued to drop, falling 5 percent.

Without action by Congress, the service will run out of cash on Oct. 15, 2013, after it makes a required workers compensation payment to the U.S. Labor Department and before revenue typically jumps with holiday-season mailing, Chief Financial Officer Joe Corbett said today.

The USPS lost almost $16 billion last year, and isn’t getting any better.  Seeing that number made me wonder just how much the furlough was supposed to be saving.  After all, if I’m going to offer something as an alternative to the furlough, it should be at least as much of a money-saver, if not more.

So I find this other article:

Because of sequestration, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the difficult decision to furlough about 85 percent of DOD civilian employees one day a week through the end of the fiscal year, a total of 11 days, the press secretary said. “My assumption is the vast majority of that population is on furlough at least one day this week,” Little said.

Little estimated the action will save the department $1.8 billion by the end of September.

So the furlough will only be saving them $1.8 billion, and the USPS lost nearly $16 billion.  It seems clear, just looking at those numbers, that it would be more beneficial to the government to lose the dead weight of the Postal Service, instead of trying to cut Defense, especially if the Postal Service is going to run completely dry by October in any event.

Of course, just cancelling the USPS could be a very bad thing.  We’ve gotten used to having letters delivered.  I see a solution to that, too: auction off the USPS infrastructure to companies like UPS and Fed-Ex.  This has the two-fold bonus of giving the government a chunk of cash, and allowing whichever company wins the auction to take over the distribution of mail without disrupting the current system.  It would be a big undertaking, but if they kept the USPS employees, who already know their routes, etc., it shouldn’t be an insurmountable task.

In short, selling off the infrastructure of the USPS and allowing private parcel companies to carry letters would remove a substantial detriment from the overall budget, and would probably yield a fairly substantial amount of money from the sale.  With that money, they could end the furlough and put my dad back to work, which was the point of this exercise to begin with.

Edit: I have created a ‘We the People’ petition on this subject. If you wish to sign, you may do so here.

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Filed under Ideas, Life, Non-Writing Related, Politics

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