Postmaster Makes More Than President

The Postmaster General not only makes more than General Petraeus but more than the commander-in-chief, the  Washington Times reports:

Postmaster General John E. Potter recently warned that economic times are so dire that the U.S. Postal Service may end mail delivery one day a week and freeze executive salaries. But his personal fortunes are nonetheless rising thanks to 40 percent in pay raises since 2006, a $135,000 bonus last year and several perks usually reserved for corporate CEOs.

The changes, approved by the Postal Board of Governors and contained in a little-noticed regulatory filing in December, brought Mr. Potter’s total compensation and retirement benefits to more than $800,000 in 2008. That is more than double the salary for President Obama.

The new compensation package, much of it deferred to later years, goes beyond a newly beefed-up salary, now $263,575, that Congress arranged for him as part of a 2006 law to make top postal salaries more competitive with those in the private sector. At least four other postal officials got more than a quarter-million dollars in total compensation in 2008, according to Postal Service records reviewed by The Washington Times.

In fairness, the Times is using some rather dubious math, comparing apples to pears.  It’s silly to add up future-year payments for the Postmaster and compare that only to the president’s salary.  In fact, his actual salary is substantially less than the president’s.  Still, it’s a lot of money.  And the standard reply to the “makes more than the president” critique, popularized by Babe Ruth, “I had a better year,” is certainly not apt in Potter’s case.    See James D. Seaver (via Instapundit) for more on that.

Potter is, however, in a strange position.  He’s running a “business” that’s really a regulated government monopoly.  He can’t cut costs in the ordinary ways. His employees are largely a fixed cost, in that they’re tenured government workers.  He has to compete with private suppliers for his most profitable business, packages and overnight mail, but has to comply with federal regulations on his monopoly business of regular mail.  He can’t differentiate on price between his most and least desirable customers.  He’s got to charge the same to deliver a letter across town as across the country and the same amount between Boston and New York as between Arab, Alabama and Wasilla, Alaska.

So, the fact that the USPS business model seems not to be working well may or may not be a reflection on how good a job Potter’s doing.

Photo by Flickr user Warm n Fuzzy, used under Creative Commons license.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Postmaster makes more than POTUS, and he wants to get another day off per week. http://tinyurl.com/awu5o7

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Arab, Alabama

    I’ve been to Arab. It’s pronounced (roughly) Ay-rab, with the ‘a’ in the second syllable much like the ‘a’ in ‘apple’.

  3. James Joyner says:

    I’ve been to Arab. It’s pronounced (roughly) Ay-rab, with the ‘a’ in the second syllable much like the ‘a’ in ‘apple’.

    Pronounced correctly, there are actually THREE syllables. Roughly A Raa ub.

    And let’s not even talk about Cairo, Georgia which is pronounced like the syrup. (KAY ro)

  4. Eneils Bailey says:

    So, the fact that the USPS business model seems not to be working well may or may not be a reflection on how good a job Potter’s doing.

    There is no one in management at the USPS that would understand a ‘business model” if it was licked and pasted on their ass.

    To me, this is one of the worst run organizations in the FEDERAL government. And excesses abound; I lived in a third rate city of about 250,000. In the late 1990’s, an assistant Postmaster, recently promoted to this city’s Postmaster from Chicago came in, spent over $250,000 dollars in re-modeling the Postmaster’s office. Mail service was no better, the inadequate and surly attitudes did not get better, and the postal rates kept increasing.

    My favorite post office joke, compliments of Jay Leno:
    “Postal rates are going to increase next month.
    The USPS is going to be charged more for storage.”

  5. tom p says:

    There is no one in management at the USPS that would understand a ‘business model” if it was licked and pasted on their ass.

    Ya know, I always wondered about peoples desire to kick around the good old USPS. One can stick a letter in the mail in Bangor ME, addressed to “Aunt Bertha, Calumet City IL” and know (with reasonable certainty) that she will get it.

    A buddy of mine works at the USPS, and most of you can not imagine the “horror” stories he has told me. But for all of that, they still deliver something like 99% of first class mail with in 3 days.

    Not to mix metaphors but, what they do, with what they have, strikes me as considerably more difficult than hitting a 98 mph fastball 450 feet to right of center.

    (and by the by, as one who has more than a little experience with the “freight forwarding business”, use USPS for all your over night or 2 day packages… anything else is a waste of money)

  6. Eneils Bailey says:

    You know, I always wondered about peoples desire to kick around the good old USPS. One can stick a letter in the mail in Bangor ME, addressed to “Aunt Bertha, Calumet City IL” and know (with reasonable certainty) that she will get it.

    Aunt Bertha was one lucky woman…
    I used to live and mail correspondence from: Dunwoody Georgia to Norcross Georgia.
    The average delivery time was 10 to 14 days. That was about a mile or less a day. It was consistently that way for 3 to 4 years. It was recognized as being the worst Post Office in Georgia.

  7. tom p says:

    Aunt Bertha was one lucky woman…

    Well, on the anecdotal side of things, I recently recieved a piece of mail from Europe addressed to Tom P…. Bourbon, MO, no zip….

    Not saying the system is perfect, just that continueing w/in the constraints of the system as it was set up 200 yrs ago, it is amazing how much they accomplish to this day.

  8. Eneils Bailey says:

    Well, on the anecdotal side of things, I recently recieved a piece of mail from Europe addressed to Tom P…. Bourbon, MO, no zip….

    Burbon, Missouri…
    As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 1,348 people, 548 households, and 355 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,135.9 people per square mile (437.4/km²). There were 600 housing units at an average density of 505.6/sq mi (194.7/km²).

    I also live in a small town, where similar things have happened through the USPS. Good for the conscientious people in small towns that work at the USPS.

    Just don’t keep your hopes up and don’t move to St. Louis or Kansas city.