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.