Ground Roots Think Tank
By Roger Johnson
I am embarrassed and puzzled to watch the United States Congress fail to get anything substantial accomplished. I feel like I could throw some items on the table that have more merit for improving the life of the citizens of the United States than all the bickering that comes our way these days. Here are some of my thoughts.
The United States gave out $52.7 billion in foreign aid to 25 countries in 2010. That is up from $16.6 billion in 2001. My idea is to reduce foreign aid by 10% in 2014 across the board equally to each of the 25 countries, reducing the US budget by $5.2 billion. Then in 2015 reduce aid by 10%, again saving the US an additional $4.7 billion and do not forget to add on the $5.2 million saved the last year to this year also. Then in 2016 reduce the foreign aid by another 5% for a total of 25% to all countries over three years. The foreign aid budget would then be at (only) $40.7 billion and we would have $26.1 billion available for the US citizens. These countries received $39.5 billion in 2006, so the 2016 target is still higher than in 2006. Many of these countries do not like us very much and I believe there is very little accounting of what good the aid is doing for each country.
The US Postal Service has become less important for many reasons. The principle reason is technology which has provided a faster, less expensive way to communicate. My personal experience was to open my daily mail and to put items requiring action in a spot where usually once a week I did things like pay bills. Today, automatic bill paying by banks and on-line services have erased most of those needs. Therefore I would recommend providing service only three days a week. (Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday) There are several competing businesses that provide next days service including the post office.
In 2010 there were 260,000 vehicles in the US Post Office. Wouldn’t there be far less needed if mail was delivered every other day? Let’s say that 100,000 less vehicles at the cost of $20,000 each or $2 billion and the cost of repair and maintenance could be saved. Wouldn’t we need half the number of letter carriers? In 2010 the median salary for a letter carrier was just over $53,000. Of the 524,000 post office employees, let’s say 200,000 are letter carriers. Reducing carriers would save over $10 billion per year. In 2010 the US government set aside $5.5 billion per year for the cost of retirement health care for postal employees. Reducing the number of employees helps that number in the right direction.
Here is one more thing to throw on the table. Congress has made first class mail a legalized monopoly. Why? Would competition cost less? Maybe! Whenever you throw out numbers with very little knowledge of that real world it can be easily challenged as the current Congress demonstrates daily. But hey, there are a lot of bucks to be saved here, I believe. Possibly $12 billion per year and the average citizen would benefit.