In the January 21, 2012, issue of The Economist, the main focus of both the feature articles and the special report was on the resurgence of “state capitalism.” The magazine’s reporters described a world in which major companies in major markets were either owned directly by national governments, or subject to control or heavy influence, even if they were privately owned or had issued shares to the public.
The stories reminded me that, for the last 21 years of my Pitney Bowes career, I dealt continuously with the encroachment of state capitalism in the postal sector. In the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s, we successfully fought a series of battles with the U.S. Postal Service to keep it from becoming another entity with all the powers and privileges of the federal government, but with none of the regulatory constraints associated with federal government agencies. Several senior postal officials aspired to create a power base similar to many government-owned entities, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority (which Marvin Runyon, the Postmaster General from 1992 to 1998, had led) or the New York-New Jersey Port Authority.