• privatize the U.S. Postal Service and • repeal the Private Express Statutes that preserve the postal monopoly.
In a speech on August 31, 1998, Postmaster General William J. Henderson stated: “It is my belief that we will not retain our monopoly forever. We will lose this monopoly. It's happening all over the world. Monopolies are being deregulated.” Indeed, the German government has made an initial public offering of shares in Deutsche Post (DP), and by January 2003 that country's privatized postal service will lose its monopoly status and be subject to competition.
Fast, efficient communications are vital for advanced industrial economies and societies. But the United States is entering the 21st century with a postal system established in the 18th. The U.S. Postal Service's monopoly on first- and third-class mail makes it a federal crime for private suppliers to transport and deliver messages on pieces of paper or other material media while charging prices as low as those of the USPS.
In recent years the USPS has been under competitive pressures from e-mail, faxes, private package carriers, and services such as Federal Express that are allowed to offer overnight delivery of urgent communications. Electronic bill paying is expected to reduce annual USPS revenues by some 20 percent over the next decade. The Postal Service also has suffered from chronic high labor costs. As a result, in recent years the USPS has sought additional sources of revenue by offering nonpostal services. For example, it now runs a check-processing operation and, more ominously, is moving into e-commerce, e-mail, and other online services.
The USPS also is making alliances with other businesses. Most notably, it is planning a strategic alliance with its long-time rival, Federal Express.