With the US Post Office (USPS) facing losses of nearly $16 billion last year, critics have suggested cutting services or massive downsizing. The National Association of Letter Carriers is exploring another option: bringing back postal banking. Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand have long, successful histories of postal banking; and so does the US. From 1911 to 1966, the local post office provided a trustworthy place for people to save their money. With growing mistrust in corporate banks, postal banking offers a safe banking alternative to millions of Americans and to the 21 million people who use costly check cashing institutions.
This could also help the USPS, which has not received taxpayer dollars since 1980 and operates in the red. This debt is largely due to the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that requires the USPS to pre-fund 80% of future retiree health benefits, the only public or private institution required to do so. This financial burden makes it more difficult to compete with private institutions, as well as declining stamp sales and services, with public demand shifting to email and Internet communication.
The USPS needs to reinvent itself, and a public banking service is one of the sensible options–good for the USPS and local communities–offering “the people” a fair and safe option for their money.
Ellen Brown, “Saving the Post Office” Truthdig, August 14, 2012, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/saving_the_post_office_letter_carriers_consider_bringing_back_banking_servi
King, Justin, “Bring Back Postal Banking!” New America Foundation, February 15, 2013. http://assets.newamerica.net/blogposts/2013/bring_back_postal_banking-79369
Student Researcher: Brittany Clark, San Francisco State University
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University