By Doug Porter
It won’t be long now. CBS News reported this morning that the United States Post Office is ending Saturday delivery of first-class and will phase out the practice by the end of this summer. Effective August 1st, all first-class mail—which includes pretty much all letters, bills, cards, and catalogs—will only be delivered on weekdays.
Packages, express, and Priority Mail will still get delivered on the weekend. The change will mark the end of weekend deliveries for the first time in 150 years.
It didn’t have to be this way. From Esquire Magazine:
As has become clear over the past five years, conservative politicians have decided that we don’t need a post office any more. Under cover of technology, and using the rise of e-mail as an alibi, the Congress quite deliberately has engaged in a campaign to make theUnited States Postal System an unsustainable concern.
They’ve done it quite well, actually. In 2006, when nobody was paying attention, a lame duck session of Congress, in which there was still a Republican majority, passed a neat little poison-pill called the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which required the USPS to pre-fund 75 years worth of health-care benefits over the next 10 years. (No other government entity ever has been required to do anything like this.) Among other things, this prevented the USPS from raising rates, or doing anything else that would lift the weight of the fiscal millstone that had been hung upon it. That this was a deliberate act of sabotage was revealed by the fact that a report indicated that, absent this pre-payment requirement, the USPS would be running a profit of $2.5 billion. With the requirement, the service is $24 billion in the hole.
Yes, the times have changed. The days of mail as the primary means of long distance communication and sending money are over. And the Post Office knows that. They’re just not allowed to do anything about it. They actually make money delivering packages and know what they’re doing.
Ultimately this is more than an argument over where the public or private sector should be delivering books from Amazon. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that both entities can and should do it. What we really have here is an argument about shrinking the idea of government (even though the USPS is technically not a Federal agency anymore) enough so conservatives can drown it in a bathtub. Again, Esquire:
The entire modern conservative movement consists of an ongoing attempt to sever the relationship of a self-governing people to their government, to break down the concept of a political commonwealth. Many of the conservative attempts to wedge people apart through the use of an Other to be feared and despised — whether that was black people, or empowered women, or immigrants, or gay people — have been framed to attack the government’s attempts to ameliorate discrimination against the groups in question. In modern conservative thought, then, and in the mindset it seeks to ingrain on the people of the country, the government is the ultimate Other.
And so it goes. The American institution that provides the most jobs for veterans, one that is symbolic of our coming together for a common good will die a slow death.
Earth Day’s Back On in Balboa Park, Blame Game Gets Played
Judge Timothy Taylor’s ruling, striking down the Plaza de Panama redevelopment plan, continued to produce aftershocks yesterday.
Mayor Filner’s office issued a statement saying annual Earth Fair is back on for this year at its original location in Balboa Park. City officials originally denied the Earth Day group permits due to what they said were safety hazards arising from construction of a planned by-pass and parking garage on the east end of the park.
Irwin Jacobs, who’d promised much of the funding for the plan, told KBPS yesterday that the deal was finished. Some folks wrung their hands and cried “woe is me”, saying that cancellation of the Jacobs plan meant nothing good would ever happen in the park or maybe even in San Diego. Some pointed their fingers at opponents of the plan. From UT-SD’s editorial page this morning:
The obstructionist Save Our Heritage Organisation may have won its court case to block the plan to remove traffic and parking from the heart of Balboa Park. But for San Diego, the heavy price of that victory will be paid for many years to come.
While there were clear differences in vision for what actions would be needed to renovate Balboa Park, ultimately what happened here was about the process. The City broke the law, not once, but twice. And there were other legal issues, as documented last July by SDFP writer Andy Cohen here.
The 30 organizations, planning groups, neighborhood, environmental, civic groups and multiple historic organizations who joined together to fight the project and who believed they were fighting to protect the park’s over 100-year history were shunted aside.
The vetting process for this scheme was seriously flawed. As the press release about the court ruling from SOHO put it:
Despite dozens of public and several private meetings, there was never any genuine opportunity to find an agreeable compromise. Beyond all reason, the “My Way or the Highway” attitude that prevailed with this project trounced common sense, respect for the public’s wishes, and responsible stewardship of our national landmark.
This doesn’t have to be the end of the day for changes to Balboa Park. Jacobs, despite the sometimes outrageous personal attacks against him, has not closed the door on considering other approaches. What he said was that the Plaza de Panama plan was dead. It would seem to me that the ball is in SOHO’s (and Mayor Filner’s) court to come up with a plan and quickly.
Hedgecock Watch: Hating White People
To hear our disgraced former Mayor turned talk-show host tell it, the Civil Rights struggles of the 50’s and 60’s were embraced by the country. It was, as George Thorogood once said, ‘Lovey-Dovey’.
Funny, I don’t remember it that way. Maybe he should get Mayor Filner on his show to talk about what the national mood was at the time…(Quotes courtesy of WC Watch):
“I lived through Rosa Parks, I lived through Martin Luther King, Jr. The consensus was at that time among white people that those civil rights efforts were in the noblest tradition in the American republic…
In his ongoing effort to instill fear in the hearts of his listeners, Roger Hedgecock has discovered the ongoing plot to instill “hatred of white people” in our schools. And, of course, it’s happening under the direction of President Barack Obama.
Citing a news story about one Oregon school principal (taken out of context, of course), Hedgecock extended assertions made in that article to a nation-wide conspiracy:
“…This stuff is going on in every school, every public school,” Hedgecock warned.
After relating a news story about a deranged murderer who said his shooting spree was prompted by his racist attitudes toward white people, beliefs he developed while an anthropology major in college, Hedgecock said, “Where do people get these notions? They get them in taxpayer-supported schools. Hatred of white people has now become an epidemic in this country.
“It is now informing political decisions that are made. When President Obama told the editorial staff at the San Francisco Chronicle during the 2008 campaign that the bitter clingers, people in Pennsylvania, and he was talking about white people, who cling to their guns and their bible, were the problem he was having.
“No one has more racially divided this country since John C. Calhoun, than Barack Obama…”
Hedgecock is, of course, entitled to his opinions. But there’s no reason why you or I have to patronize the companies that are paying him to say this. If you’re interested in joining the campaign to de-fund this clown, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is Higher Education a Path To Nowhere?
There are lots of folks warning that the next “bubble” to bust in our economy will be indebtedness resulting from college loans. Nationally we owe nearly $1 trillion in student loans, an amount more than credit card or auto loan debt. And it’s getting harder to pay these loans off all the time, as people are graduating from institutions of higher learning only to discover their education isn’t the asset they thought it would be.
Paul Campos at Salon.com has a compelling article up about the myth that more education is the cure for economic inequality.
The extent of this myth is highlighted by a new report from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, which indicates that nearly half of all employed college graduates have jobs that require less than a four-year college education.
Despite such sobering statistics, the higher-education complex remains remarkably successful at ensuring that American taxpayers fund the acquisition of educational credentials that, in many cases, leave the people who obtain them worse off than they were before they enrolled.
Far from being “priceless,” as the promoters of ever-more spending on higher education would have Americans believe, both undergraduate and post-graduate education is turning out to be a catastrophic investment for many young and not-so-young adults.
Killing Them Softly With Our Drones
A Justice Department document leaked to the press by Senate opponents of the nomination of John O. Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency reveals legal justifications for allowing the government to kill a U.S. citizen overseas if it determines the target is a “senior, operational leader” of al-Qaeda or an associated group and poses an imminent threat to the United States. From the Washington Post:
The document defines “imminent threat” expansively, saying it does not have to be based on intelligence about a specific attack since such actions are being “continually” planned by al-Qaeda. “In this context,” it says, “imminence must incorporate considerations of the relevant window of opportunity” as well as possible collateral damage to civilians.
The memo was written months prior to a September 2011 drone strike in Yemen that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim cleric accused of helping al-Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate plan attacks against the United States. Three other Americans, including Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, have also been killed in U.S. strikes in Yemen.
The Obama administration, in decisions upheld in federal court rulings, has repeatedly denied demands by lawmakers, civil rights groups and the media to release the memo and other information on targeted killings — or even to acknowledge their existence.
Alert! Alert! (Not Asking for Money)
As part of our ‘grassroots news’ mission here at the San Diego Free Press we’re going to start expanding our neighborhood coverage in the coming weeks. And all you hipsters in North Park are first in line as we launch this grand plan, so expect to see us in our SD Free Press tee shirts prowling around. (Other neighborhoods shouldn’t be jealous, we’re headed your way as the year moves along.) So if you live or work in North Park and would like to pen a neighborhood-centric essay, drop us a line. Contact@SanDiegoFreePress.org
I should probably mention that we’re an all volunteer effort, so this is not a job opportunity. We just want to change the world.
ALSO, we editors had one of our infrequent face-to-face sessions (this enterprise is mostly virtual) last night. No punches were thrown. No major conspiracies were hatched, although our ongoing plans for world domination are still under consideration. But we have determined that our “collective voice” is a bit too testosterone-tinged. So we’re looking for some writers of the female persuasion. Interested? Drop us a lineContact@SanDiegoFreePress.org
On This Day: 1778 – The United States gained official recognition from France as the two nations signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance in Paris. 1939 – Elvis Presley’s father, Vernon, was released from prison after serving 8 months for altering a check. 1971 – NASA Astronaut Alan B. Shepard used a six-iron that he had brought inside his spacecraft and swung at three golf balls on the surface of the moon.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Carlsbad (Roosevelt St. btw Grand Ave. & Carlsbad Village Dr.) 1 – 5 pm, Encinitas Station (Corner of E Street & Vulcan in parking lot B) 5 – 8 pm, Mission Hills (Falcon St. btw West Washington & Ft. Stockton) 3 – 7 pm, North San Diego at Sikes Adobe Farmstead (I-15 at Via Rancho Parkway. 12655 Sunset Dr., Escondido.) 11 am – 2 pm, Ocean Beach (4900 block of Newport Ave. btw Cable & Bacon Sts.) 4 – 8 pm, San Marcos – Cal State San Marcos (333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd., Parking Lot B) 3 – 7 pm,Santee (10445 Mission Gorge Rd. abandoned school parking lot) 3 –7 pm, Temecula (40820 Winchester Rd. Promenade Mall, parking lot btw Macy’s & Penny’s) 9 am – 1 pm
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