Commentary: Our love-hate relationship with the U.S. Postal Service

Americans' love-hate relationship with the U.S. Postal Service is about to be tested again.

We love to gripe about the shortcomings of one of our most essential institutions. While we wish it would change, we hate for it to.

But change it must -- or face a projected $238 billion loss over the next decade.

The Postal Service is an independent agency, overseen by a federally appointed board of governors.

The USPS hasn't received taxpayer money since the early 1980s and relies on income from postage sales. But it's lost money for several years, even as rates have gone up.

The operation can't break even because costs keep increasing faster than revenues. Among other things, mail volume has plummeted because more people are communicating and paying bills online; the economic downturn has forced businesses to reduce direct-mail advertising; and rising fuel costs have made shipping and delivery more expensive.

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