Slowing Down The Snail

The United States Postal Service has recently announced that it will no longer deliver mail on Saturdays after August 1st of this year. An interesting movement is afoot to keep the Post Office open on Saturdays and this movement has made some remarkable claims. They are nicely summarized in the following paragraphs from a notice making the rounds on the internet:

The United States Postal Service has just announced that due to budget shortfalls, mail will no longer be delivered on Saturdays starting in August.

It’s true the post office faces financial challenges. But the financial problems are in large part a direct result of an onerous and ill-considered 2006 law called the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act” (PAEA) that mandates pre-funding the postal service retiree health care and pension benefits for 75 years — something that no other government agency or private company is forced to do.

I checked on the PAEA and this information is substantially correct. The act in question became  law under George W. Bush and it deals largely with postal regulations. But it also specifies the amount of money that must be allocated into the health care and retirement plan of the employees, which (according to the movement) is what is causing most of the red ink in the running of the Post Office and is designed to lead to the eventual closing of the United States Postal Service. Or so we are led to believe.

The claim goes on to insist that the movement to slow down the Post Office is part of a plan on the part of the Republicans to “kill government services for the sake of proving that government can’t work.” This sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory, but there does seem to be some plausibility to the claim — outrageous as it may seem at first. As the movement goes on to point out, the overall objective of the Republicans is to “force more cuts and eventually privatize services altogether, handing over public goods to private corporations.” In this case, the private corporations are UPS and Fed-X.

Again, there is some plausibility to these claims, given the facts that the (1) Republicans are eager to shrink the size of government, (2) the trend toward corporate-friendly laws is certainly high on the agenda of the Republican Party, and (3) the fact that the law was passed under George W. Bush, who pushed hard for privatizing Social Security while he was in office. The movement to privatize public agencies in order to benefit large corporations is certainly something that has been on the Republican radar for some time.

Thus, while I can’t say with complete confidence that this movement to save the Post Office is not a hoax or part of a conspiracy theory designed to create angst in the public, I pass it along as food for thought. The group circulating this information is Credo-Action, a “publication of Working Assets.” Its hope is to get readers to sign a petition and contact Congressmen to keep the Post Office open in Saturdays. But if they are right and this is part of a Republican scheme to privatize postal services, then a petition and a letter to a Congressman seems to me a bit like playing poker with an opponent who is holding a straight flush and playing with house money while we are trying to bluff with a pair of twos. In any case, if you are interested in knowing more, I encourage you to check out the source cited above.

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8 thoughts on “Slowing Down The Snail

  1. i remember when years and years ago, our library system announced it was terminating the book mobile. WHAT? NO WAY! How could they consider taking away that gift that brought the magical world of books to so many people who lived in rural areas? At that time, the reasons were because of fuel expenses. my sons and i wrote letters to the editor, letters to our elected officials – i couldn’t stand by and just sigh and say, ‘too bad.’

    our country is losing all that made it special, and it always comes down to money, doesn’t it?

  2. Unfortunately, there are three things eating away at their business – electronic mail, express mail and high cost model due to aging workforce. Since there is a role the express mail industry plays and far too many of us use the next day service under FedEx or UPS, it would be great if the two of them could support the USPS engine for their less urgent mailings. As for the cost model, Congress would not let the USPS act on their own recommended branch closings, so this is a reasonable option.

    I know I am old school, but a handwritten letter or card has a lot more meaning than an email. I hope the USPS can survive. Thanks for the post, BTG

  3. The postal service is one government agency that is completely self-funded. It certainly looks as if the PAEA was designed to undermine this.

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