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  • Paula Tiberius

Save The Post Office (It’s An Easy Fix)

Our local post office has a drive-by mailbox. Violet gets so excited when we stop to mail a letter and demands to be the one who actually drops it into the slot. She jumps out of her car seat, rolls down the window, throws the letter in and says, “Bye-bye letter! Have fun going on your trip!” It’s very cute.

And it’s also something that’s guaranteed in article 1, section 8, clause 7 of the constitution. We the people are guaranteed post offices within a reasonable distance from where we live, and the postal roads to go along with them. Hooray!

The USPS is completely funded by the sale of postage stamps, taking absolutely no tax dollars whatsoever. And sales are very good, better than ever. It’s a thriving institution that employs union workers who get paid a decent wage to carry out one of America’s most integral services.

So why do we keep hearing about the post office closing down? Why is Saturday delivery set to expire? Well, it’s not for the reasons you might think. People imagine that perhaps it’s become an antiquated mode of sending packages. Everyone uses the Internet for small letters, and UPS and Fedex for other packages, right? WRONG!

The reason the post office is broke is that in 2006, George W. Bush’s lame-duck congress passed a horrible poison pill of legislation that forced the US Postal Service to pay into its pension 75 years into the future, in an attempt to balance the budget while conveniently beginning a shameful destruction of an American institution.

That’s right, USPS is currently funding the pensions of people who don’t even work there yet and may not have even be born!

The fact is, if it weren’t for these ridiculous pension payments, the USPS would be looking at a $1.5 billion profit! We wouldn’t have to cancel Saturday delivery! We wouldn’t even be talking about this!

It’s just another examples of Republicans creating a ‘crisis‘ and then pointing to the victim and saying, ‘You’re not pulling your weight.’ This post office scam fits right into their agenda: Gut government institutions so you can privatize everything (hello, Fedex lobby!), dumb down the public even more by isolating them from everyday flyers, mailers and government information (rural areas would be the worst hit), weaken one of the strongest unions in the country, and just generally suck the joy and fairness from society as we know it.

As for the Internet siphoning all our valuable mail traffic, the opposite is actually true. The Internet has created huge demand for MORE mail service, with everyone wanting their click-through purchases delivered directly to their door. Also, the USPS works in conjunction with Fedex and UPS in many rural areas. Because of their profit motives, corporate courier companies can’t afford to provide ‘postal roads’ to the doors of all their customers. But lucky for them, the government has already done that, so often postal carriers will finish the job that couriers started, taking packages from a local office to their final destination. This is commonplace. Corporate couriers need the USPS to carry out their business.

Furthermore, if we re-interpret the constitution to include the ‘postal roads’ of Internet, then it follows that the Post Office should take over the delivery of high-speed bandwidth as part of their duty too. Imagine if we bought our Internet connections from the Post Office? It would be so much cheaper, and so much better maintained because it would be offered by an agency that isn’t doing it for the money. 

There is no post office crisis. There’s a stupid pension plan that doesn’t work for anyone (including USPS workers!) except the corporate courier lobby and Republicans who have made it their number one priority to ruin this country. I do have a message for them, which I got from a caller on the Randi Rhodes show. If you’re suddenly so interested in pensions, Republicans, that’s great! Let’s mandate them for corporations. Right now, who do you think pays the pensions of companies that get gutted by larger corporations? It’s the Pension Government Guaranty Corporation, which is a US government department! In other words, you and me – the taxpayers! So hell yes, Republicans, let’s start being more responsible with pensions, by all means. And that includes rescinding this absurd USPS payout.

Bernie Sanders, the independent senator of Vermont and Peter DeFazio (Democrat of Oregon) have put forth the Postal Service Modernization Bill  that would overturn Bush’s 2006 mandate. They are the good guys and they need support. We can only hope that Congress will do the right thing this time.

Badass Bernie Sanders! One of the good guys.

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