Should we let the US Postal Service die?
If you listen to regressive right-wing sources, you will hear that it’s all the postal union’s fault. All that’s needed to fix things is for the unions to give up wage and benefit packages or just cease to exist. But is that true? How about the poison pill Republican lawmakers pushed through the 2008 lame dick session of congress. That bill required the Post Office to overpay $7 billion to the Federal Employee Retirement System and $50 to 75 billion to the Civil Service Retirement System. It also required the the USPS pre-fund it’s retiree pension plan for the next 75 years over just 10 years, at a cost of about $8 billion per year. No private enterprise would ever think to do such a thing, and there is no reason for the post office to do it, other than to give Republicans one more phony “proof” of the evil of unions and government in general, and to let them destroy the Post Office in order to benefit CEOs of private sector corporations that compete with the USPS.
Before someone tries it, let’s dispose with one more right-wing = wrong-headed talking point. The USPS is not taxpayer funded and has not been for over 30 years now. It runs entirely from revenues it generates, just as any private business does. The line item in the Federal budget that goes to the USPS is payment for free mailing, called Franking Services, afforded by law to all members of Congress and their staffs.
The US Constitution requires that we have a postal service. Republicans claim to love the Constitution but seem to mean just a few phrases found here and there in it. If regressives succeed in destroying the postal service so they can out-source its work to private carriers who financially support them, they will throw 621,929 people out of work in tough economic times. Far worse, it will mean that many small businesses, particularly in rural settings not served by the for-profit delivery services, will have to shut down, putting the owners and all their employees out of work. This will mean millions of additional jobs lost. Is this what regressives mean when they say, “Jobs, jobs, jobs”? It seems all their actual plans are about how to put people out of jobs, or create more jobs offshore and more profits for multinational CEOs and investors.
Do we want to let the regressives succeed in killing the Postal Service? Would we be way better off if the only letter services were UPS and FedEx, with costs between $5 and $20 to simply mail a letter? Would it be good if businesses that rely on the USPS’ low cost, “If it fits it ships.” packaging to offer free shippiing having to go to charging freight on every order? How about if all the rural business that use the USPS just had to go out of business because the for-profit delivery services charge a heavy surcharge just to visit their location. Is it just fine to ignore the Constitution except when you personally like what a particular sentence in it says? If you think the Post Office is worth saving, how should we save it?