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With a $5.5 billion payment on its retiree-healthcare plan looming at the end of this month, the U.S. Postal Service is facing a shortfall that could cause it to run out of cash completely this winter. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe tells the New York Times, “Our situation is extremely serious. If Congress doesn’t act, we will default.”

The Post Office has, of course, been pinched by E-mail and other forms of electronic communication. But its labor costs are extraordinary: 80 percent of its overall budget goes to labor, as opposed to 53 percent at UPS and just 32 percent at FedEx.

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