By Dave Johnson / Campaign for America’s Future
The Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service is calling for support of two House resolutions that urge restoration of overnight mail service standards and a continuation of six-day delivery.
The alliance consists of more than 70 national organizations. The coalition is asking people to contact members of Congress in support of House Resolutions 54 and 12. H. Res. 54, from Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the U.S. Postal Service “should take all appropriate measures to restore service standards in effect as of July 1, 2012.” H. Res. 12, from Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), says that the USPS “should take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its six-day mail delivery service.”
These resolutions are in response to a new attempt to manufacture a crisis in postal delivery.
How To Manufacture An Anti-Government “Crisis”
If you can manufacture the idea that there is a crisis going on, it makes it easier to get people to go along with the “solutions” you want to push. (See: Doctrine, Shock, disaster capitalism.)
Here’s how to manufacture an anti-government “crisis”: cut funding for a government service and put people who want to kill the service in charge of managing the service. Generate lots of press coverage of the resulting failings of the government agency involved. After a while the service is performing poorly and the public is getting upset. Declare a “crisis” and say that government doesn’t work so “reform” is needed. Of course the “reforms” involve gutting the service, privatizing it, corporatizing it – anything but serving the public. This is what is happening to our Postal Service.
Manufacturing A Mail Crisis
In February I wrote about A “Grand Alliance” To Save Our Public Postal Service,
The Conservative/Wall Street/1 Percent/Republican anti-government strategy is to set government up to fail (usually by starving it of funding). Then they point to the resulting “crisis” they created and say it proves that government doesn’t work so we should “privatize” it – in other words, rig the system against We the People by handing our common wealth over to a few wealthy people to harvest for personal profit.
Now they’re coming for the U.S. Postal Service.
Now we are seeing the game play out.
First, in 2006 Congress required the USPS to come up with $5.5 billion per year to pre-fund 75 years of retiree costs. The Postal Service has to set aside money now for employees who are not even born yet. Even with this in the way, they also require the Postal Service to at least break even. But unlike businesses, they hamstring what the USPS is allowed to offer the public – because it would have major advantages over private businesses.
Since 2012, USPS management has been reducing “service standards,” which means mail service gets slower. In January the USPS management again imposed a serious reduction in service standards, and largely eliminated overnight mail. They are closing mail processing facilities and cutting back, cutting back. More than 140 mail processing facilities have closed since 2012, and 82 more are scheduled to close in 2015.
This means mail will be slower, and overnight delivery of first-class mail and periodicals will largely be a thing of the past. (Rural Americans and businesses in particular will be hit by the worst of the mail delays.) And, in fact, it looks like the cutbacks are keeping the USPS from meeting even the new relaxed standards.
The idea of engineering a crisis is to get people complaining about the “slow, inefficient” Post Office. Corporate/conservative propaganda outlets will complain that government is slow and inefficient and things like the Postal Service should be turned over to fast and efficient private corporations like FedEx and UPS.
And it will also be used as a general example of how “government doesn’t work,” “corporations do things better” and so on …
Decent Pay vs. Minimum Wage
What happens if they privatize? Currently a letter sent from a small town in Alaska is picked up and transported across the country to a farm in Maine for 49 cents. You can kiss that goodbye.
The new U.S. business model is a few really, really rich people at the top, everyone else working for minimum wage with government services keeping the workers afloat with food stamps, etc. Meanwhile the company and the billionaires at the top dodge their taxes.
The Postal Service is the country’s second-largest employer. Walmart is the largest and shows us what happens in today’s rigged economy. A few ultra-billionaires own it, the workers are paid so little that taxpayers have to cover their food stamps, Medicaid, and other government services. The Walmart heirs have $145 billion.
So the USPS employs a lot of people. They are paid OK. They aren’t getting rich, but they don’t live in poverty. This, of course, is the complaint from the corporate conservatives. They want to change this.
As the USPS cuts back, and especially if they privatize, these people are moved from jobs that pay OK to jobs that pay squat and have no benefits at all. People will be forced to turn to the taxpayers for some assistance – like Walmart employees – and a few people at FedEx and UPS will pocket the “savings.”
Don’t stand for this. Contact your member of Congress right now and let them know you want the USPS to restore the standards of delivery that the USPS used to have. Let them know you want overnight delivery six days a week.
Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US. Originally posted at Campaign for America’s Future.