It appears that the United States Post Office, an agency mandated by the Constitution, is on its way out. This week the Post Office announced that it will be discontinuing Saturday mail delivery. With that cut in service, the end appears in sight. David Horsey considers how we got to this point, and I think he got it right.
Sure, most people have not mailed a real letter for months, if not years, and prefer to send messages via email or text. And, yes, companies such as UPS and FedEx have stolen the more lucrative shares of the market from the venerable old post office. But the USPS might be in less dire straits if Republicans in Congress were not trying to kill it outright.
In 2006, the GOP Congress passed a bill that required the Postal Service to fully fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years and to accomplish this within a 10-year period. Republicans are always insisting that the USPS be run like a good capitalist enterprise, but few, if any, private businesses could bear the burden of funding three-quarters of a century of retired employees’ medical costs over just one decade.
In truth, the Republicans who crafted the bill were not interested in turning the Postal Service into a better business; they were seeking to run the post office out of business. With all those unionized employees working for a quasi-governmental operation that competes with private sector enterprises, the Postal Service is an affront to those who hate government, hate unions and hate to think that there is anything that government can do better than the private sector. The post office may be mandated by the United States Constitution, as clearly as freedom of religion or the right to bear arms, but it does not fit with modern Republican dogma and, therefore, has been targeted for extinction.
About the only thing that has saved the Postal Service is the fact that nobody else wants to serve rural areas. No one but the dutiful mail carriers deliver to America’s remote addresses because it is a money-losing proposition. The congressmen and senators who represent those rural constituents have fought against further cuts and may well block the elimination of Saturday delivery, as they have in the past. [Emphasis added]
What is so maddening about this bit of chicanery by the GOP is that the USPS is cheaper by far than either FedEx and UPS for both domestic and international delivery. A letter mailed first class across the country with the post office arrives (usually) within two days. Does one day make a difference in most mail? And what will UPS and FedEx charge to deliver to rural areas. Will UPS and FedEx set up centers for people to register to vote? To pick up income tax forms? Change of address forms? I doubt it.
David concludes his column by urging citizens to contact their congress critters and the White House and urge them to do whatever is necessary to save the office. I would only add that we should demand that the law requiring the USPS to fully fund retiree benefits for 75 be repealed.