North Carolina businessman Louis DeJoy is scheduled to take over as the new head of the U.S. Postal Service Monday. It’s a job that has come under a lot of political scrutiny, especially now that more people may be voting by mail due to COVID-19.
There are also big financial concerns: The Postal Service had an $11 billion shortfall last year, and says it could be worse this year because of COVID-19.
USPS has a few challenges. One of the biggest? Online shopping, which requires the Postal Service to deliver almost anything of almost any size to almost anyone. Satish Jindel, president of ShipMatrix, said the Postal Service loses a lot of money delivering big parcels.
“Anything over 10 pounds, they should forget it,” Jindel said, adding that USPS should focus on its monopoly: the mailbox.
But Richard John, a history professor at Columbia University who wrote a book about the Postal Service, said that would leave residents and business owners in rural areas behind.
“If the post office did not exist in these small towns, Federal Express and UPS would be within their rights to raise rates,” John said.
USPS is required to keep prices uniform throughout the country regardless of cost. That’s one of the reasons it was created — to give people equal access to communication and the news.
“I call it a civic foundation. I mean, it’s infrastructure. It’s like water,” John said.
And it’ll have even more involvement in civics this November as more states consider mail-in ballots to help people vote in a pandemic.