How Consumers Can Bail Out the Post Office on the Big Banks' Dime

Turn credit-card offers into a grassroots bailout for the USPS.Almost daily, I receive at least one pre-approved credit card offer from a big national bank that received bailout money from U.S. taxpayers. I hate big banks, and I hate bailouts, and I really hate it when my bailout money is used to send me junk mail I didn't ask for and don't want.

Actually, this junk mail may just be what's keeping the U.S. Postal Service afloat -- if by floating you mean not yet completely submerged in red ink. The USPS lost $3.5 billion in the third quarter compared with $2.4 billion in the same period last year -- a 46% increase.

Hefty Bank Profits

Meanwhile, the bailed-out banks are reporting hefty profits financed by taxpayer largesse (JPMorgan Chase (JPM): $4.8 billion; Citigroup (C): $2.7 billion; Bank of America (BAC): $3.1 billion for the most recent quarter). We kept them afloat in their hour of need -- in a crisis at least partly, if not largely, of their own creation. Isn't it time for the banks to pay it forward?

How about a special tax on the big banks to help keep the Postal Service and the vital work it does going -- and to preserve the jobs and benefits of its employees. The struggling economy doesn't need any of the 623,000 postal workers dumped into this increasingly job-free labor market.

Here's the best part: We don't need Congress or the president to enact such a tax.

A Grassroots Bailout

Instead, a grassroots bailout -- this time, of the post office. This time, paid for by the bailed-out banks. We can do it. Here's how: From now on, don't just throw out those credit card offers. Instead, put the paperwork in the "postage will be paid by addressee" envelope (first removing anything with your name on it) and drop it back in the mailbox. You've just transferred the cost of mailing that letter from the not-so-needy Chase/Citi/Bank of America to the oh-so-needy USPS. Who needs Robin Hood when we have postage-paid envelopes?

The U.S. has 307 million people. If each person received an average of just one credit card offer a month (most adults get more than that, while children get none) and mailed it back to the bank without a signed application, at a cost to the bank of 44 cents postage, U.S. consumers could transfer $135 million a month from the banks to the Postal Service.

There's no red tape, no lobbyists to pay off, and no congressional hearings to schedule. Tweet this post (#grassrootsbailout) or share it on Facebook to get started. The employees of the USPS are counting on you.

Zac Bissonnette's book, Debt-Free U: How I Paid For An Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, Or Mooching Off My Parents, is available for pre-order and will be in stores Aug. 31.

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Oh great, so now we gotta bail them out too?


August 12 2010 at 2:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Zac: You should get your facts straight. All three of the big banks that you mention paid 9% in preferred dividends on the money received from the treasury and all three have paid the money back in full with interest. The taxpayers should ask the treasury how this money will be spent.

August 10 2010 at 7:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mr Wonderful

release another Elvis stamp,that should bring in some cash since the stamps are rarely used.

August 10 2010 at 3:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I sell on Ebay and every year the USPS raises their rates and I ship more and more via FedEx. USPS has been consistantly raising rates by 10% while FedEx and UPS yearly increase averages 3%.
The USPS has a monopoly mentality that you can increase revenue by raising the price, the thing is, they are no longer a monopoly.
The only way they can survive is to compete. If they actually lowered their package prices, they would likely increase revenue.
But if they increased volume, the carrier unions would likely complain they are working harder so they need a raise, eating any increased revenue leaving them in the same quagmire.

August 10 2010 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sounds good to me! Although I think the biggest problem of the U.S. Postal Service is their giving special rates to all the companies who use the U.S. Mail for advertising. There's not a day that goes by without my receiving at least 5 to 10 pieces of junk mail -- mail that is never opened and goes directly into the trash! Why don't these people have to pay standard rates that the ordinary U.S. citizen must pay for using the mail service that is specifically dedicated for their own use? How often do citizens go to FedX, USP, and other companies for services that should be offered more cheaply by the U.S. Postal Service? But they can't offer cheaper services to private citizens because they give all their special rates to businesses for the junk mail. Just think of all the loads the carriers wouldn't have to carry if this junk mail were to be eliminated! Might even be able to cut the need for so many mail handlers, too.

August 10 2010 at 2:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Even better. Stop the offers altogether by going to and signing up to stop all pre-approved credit card offers. It's free and intended to stop the mail spamming from going on.

August 10 2010 at 2:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Erica's comment

You missed the point, which was to increase costs to the banks (a disincentive for sending junk mail) while increasing income to the postal service, to reduce or eliminate their huge ongoing losses that the taxpayers are footing. Your suggestion, while admirably reducing spam to you (and saving a few trees, etc) has the opposite effect on both fronts: it makes the banks' spam bombing more cost effective for them, reducing their costs, and reduces income to the postal service, increasing the shortfall made up by taxpayers! See "Robin Hood" and "Civil Disobedience" for more information.

August 14 2010 at 2:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's there own fault that their in the red....keep raising the rates to mail a letter....BS...cut back like the rest of more for there own insurance and benefits like the rest of us middle class.

August 10 2010 at 11:48 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

You should run for the senate as a democrat. Lets keep an overpaid over benefitted agency of the government in service even though they can't compete with the private sector, while placing an additional burden on the banks who as of yet, have not loosened up credit. The administration could then add those people to the job saved column of the Tarp Giveaway. Whats even scarier than this article is the fact that someone is actually going to publish his book. Another future college grad born and raised in La La land. God help us...

August 10 2010 at 11:00 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I like to do this to all the Republican solicitations I get!

August 10 2010 at 10:56 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Unions are needed! Any other response comes from someone that has never worked for them.

August 10 2010 at 10:41 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply