SAVE OUR POST OFFICE
“The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people…It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.” Title 39 of the U.S. Code.
Our Post Offices are an essential public service that are vital to individuals, businesses and the overall economy. This is why a postal service was created by the Continental Congress in 1775 – even before the Declaration of Independence. Our country’s founders recognized that a postal service was needed for business, and to bind the diverse, highly divided colonies together as a nation. All over this country local post offices, like local schools, became the foundation of many towns and cities. Postal workers don’t just deliver the mail. They serve these communities. So why is this essential, all American public service under attack?
Everyone uses the U.S. Postal Service. This is especially true during the pandemic with all of us hunkered down at home ordering stuff online. There are very few people who don’t get a bill, pay a bill, receive a check, a legal notice, tax assessment, a car registration notice, holiday cards or packages through USPS. Many of us get medications by mail. Many of us got our corona virus bailout money in the mail. Many us are planning to vote by mail this fall because of the pandemic.
So it is disturbing that the current administration is working to weaken the postal system. It claims this is being done to “reform” operations and cut costs. But there is no doubt that this is only a cover story for using the post office for political advantage – specifically slowing down mail delivery which may disenfranchise many people voting by mail. This is totally unacceptable.
Efforts by Republicans to weaken and ultimately privatize the Postal Service have been ongoing for decades. But by law (quoted above) the post office is a public service NOT a profit center for making money. In its public benefit mission, the Postal Service is more like our military services than private delivery companies. No one suggests that the Pentagon should pay its own way or be “run like a business.”
That said, the Postal Service is self-supporting. It does not receive any tax dollars for normal operations. It operates entirely off of revenues from mail, package delivery and other services it offers the public. Here are some little-known Post Office facts:
- USPS, on a typical day, delivers 471 million pieces of mail to 160 million places – 145 billion pieces of mail every year, as compared to 5.5 billion for UPS and 4 billion for FedEx.
- USPS by law must serve everyone equally. FedEx, UPS and other private couriers go only where it is profitable.
- In fact, Fed Ex and UPS frequently use the USPS to make final deliveries – more than 470 million of their packages a year get to you via the Post Office.
- If it were a private company, the Postal Service would rank 43rd in the Fortune 500 list with revenues of $67.8 billion and a healthy profit margin (2014 data).
- USPS is the largest civilian employer of military veterans (about 130,000 and one third of them are disabled veterans).
- USPS workforce is 21.3% African American, 39% minorities, and 40% women.
- Consumer Reports magazine, in a 2014 analysis, said the Postal Service outscored UPS and Fed-Ex in convenience and reliability, and it was the cheapest 92 percent of the time for next-day and second-day delivery.
- USPS sends a first-class letter anywhere in the U.S., its territories, military and diplomatic installations worldwide for the same 55 cents. This is among the lowest postage price of any industrialized country.
Stop and think about that for a minute. What can you buy for 55 cents? You won’t get a cup of coffee for that amount much less a letter sent from Nome, Alaska to Key West, Florida! It is not realistic to think any for-profit company would provide this service without significant price increases. Nor would they handle all the business advertising (“junk”) mail as cheaply. The USPS is a huge bargain!
But what about the postal budget problems we hear a lot about? The current problems were created by Congress in 2006 with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. This required the USPS to prepay $72 billion in retirement health care costs for 75 years into the future. NO OTHER federal agency has this requirement and no private company handles future retirement obligations in this manner. The Post Office was deliberately shackled with a financial burden to make it fail. Without this extraordinary burden the Post Service would be doing just fine.
The corona virus pandemic is also creating financial problems for the USPS. Like many organizations, it is seeing reduced revenues and increased costs because of the pandemic. This is why Congress is back in session to vote some special bailout funds. After spending trillions to bail out many huge private sector corporations, I think we can find the resources our post offices need to weather this pandemic.
During this pandemic our essential postal workers are risking their health to serve us. They deserve respect and support. We all need to contact our legislators and tell them to pass emergency legislation providing the Post Office the funding it needs during this crisis.
To make sure your vote is counted, request an absentee ballot NOW for the November election. Then mail your ballot back early. Some places are creating special drop off boxes for ballots. In some districts you can also hand deliver your ballot to the municipal clerk’s office. Don’t let the #%!#* politicians play games with your right to vote.