Recently the United States Postal Service announced that it will be cutting Saturday mail delivery to save $2 Billion a year. Many advocates of small government would like to have you believe that this is an example of an inefficient and wasteful government program, but in reality the story is quite different. Yes, the age of email has had many negative impacts for those services that its innovation replaced. The online world has cast a large shadow over bookstores and print media, and rightly so; access to these things suddenly is granted by a click instead of a trip out of the house or a newspaper subscription. The woes of the USPS, a service that has provided Americans with stable and respectable jobs and brought us good and bad news from far away places for decades, are unfortunately far more deep-seated than this.
What is seen now as a failure on the part of the USPS to function cost effectively is actually the result of a law that was set in motion during the Bush II era, and is being protected now by the most unpopular and stagnant Congress in history. This law “requires the Postal Service to massively pre-fund the cost of retiree health benefits over the next 75 years in just 10 years’ time“. This cost covers retirement and health benefits for current employees, naturally, but outrageously it also requires them to cover employees who have not yet been hired. This also happens to be the ONLY company in America that is required to do this. Coincidence? Not a chance.
Given the reigns to the organization, members of the US Congress have used their power to further their own political ends instead of doing what is best for their constituents, and have completely ruined the system in the process. They cater instead to corporations who wish to prey upon the USPS to generate more profit. The premier delivery companies, UPS and FedEx “have deals to save labor costs by dumping packages onto postal docks for letter carriers to deliver.” Not only does this saddle the post office with an enormous extra volume of mail, it allows these corporations to increase profit at the expense of the Postal Service, its employees, and its customers. And don’t think that they don’t know this. These greedy corporations have been afforded the chance to dismantle their largest competitor while at the same time increasing their own profits… It is any businessman’s dream!
The problem is, we will be the ones who pay for it. Once they have sufficiently eroded the USPS, there will be no publicly owned delivery option and they will be free to charge whatever they want for their services.
So there it is: the real reason the USPS is failing. We need to stop falling for the wolf in sheep’s clothing by putting our important aspects of our livelihoods in the hands of corporations who will do anything to turn a profit.
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