Administration Trying To Gut Post Office?

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Post offices are often the heart of small towns

Our Dear Leader often – very often – seems to act almost irrationally or motivated by what the latest Chiron scroll on the bottom of the screen of Fox News dictates him to do. One of his recent gambits has been aimed at Amazon.com. Most of America seemed mystified.

Often Trump’s strange tweets and statements have later been found to simply be diversionary tactics as investigations into his lawbreaking past get closer and closer to home. The shots taken at Amazon did not seem to geared in that direction.

On the surface it looked like an attack on the main business of the owner of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos. The Post has been one of the major sources of stories on the criminal activities of the group that took over the White House in 2017. Attacking Bezos main business as a payback would be right in line with the modus operandi of this administration. Very unethical.

What was strange was the direction the attacks took. Instead of attacking certain business practices Dear Leader focused on one aspect of Amazon’s business – their business involving the US Post Office. As the attacks continued one could easily begin to think that the attacks were not only targeted at Amazon, but also one of their business partners – the Post Office.

Apparently I was not the only person who thought along these lines. I stumbled on an article on prospect.org by David Dayen points out that the Trump war with Amazon also has some guns aimed at the long time enemy of Republicans the USPO and its successful functioning business.

Dayen goes into some details of what the Republican Party has done in recent years to cripple the USPO especially the recent spat initiated by Trump. Dayen notes that this spat gives cover for the administration to issue a report that could help Republicans fulfill a decades long wish to privatize mail delivery:

But these issues have almost nothing to do with the Trump executive order. The Amazon spat is a cover for the formal unveiling of a long-wished right-wing project to destroy the post office and have private industry take over its infrastructure, which taxpayers funded long ago. All the executive order really does is create a report; it would take a willing Congress to deliver the final hammer blow. But that report, with a government imprimatur, will become part of that right-wing wish list, living on for decades in think tanks and private shipping company boardrooms as a fervent dream.

Dayen then analyzes the Executive Order that Trump issued noting that its directive is to essentially give Congress a reason to dismantle the USPO and privatize it:

In reality, there’s already a “task force” empowered to evaluate the Postal Service. That’s the USPS Board of Governors, an 11-member panel that operates like the board of directors of a corporation, empowered to review all policies and practices and engage in long-range planning. But this board, which includes the postmaster general, their deputy, and nine presidential appointees, has not had a new member confirmed since the George W. Bush administration. It’s been operating without a quorum since 2015, and currently all nine appointee positions are vacant. The Trump administration took until October of last year to nominate three of the open nine governor seats; they’re only getting a confirmation hearing next week.

If Trump, or anyone in his administration, were actually concerned with Postal Service operations, he’d quickly stock its board. Instead, he’s formalizing a task force to look into undermining it. Here are some things the executive order wants the task force to look into:

  • “The USPS’ role in competitive markets,” specifically package delivery, where it competes with private shippers;
  • “Issues relating to government monopolies operating in the commercial marketplace”;
  • “The USPS monopoly over letter delivery and mailboxes”; and
  • “The definition of the ‘universal service obligation’ in light of changes in technology, e-commerce, marketing practices, and customer needs.”

I think the goal is clear. The task force is being prodded to open up the mailbox to any company, and degrade the centuries-old tradition that the post office deliver anywhere in the nation, through snow or rain or heat or gloom of night. After eliminating these public benefits, the task force might seek to bar the post office from competing in markets where the private sector operates, or to privatize the agency altogether, selling its infrastructure off for parts.

No doubt one of the unstated offenses of the USPO is that they are the home of the largest union in the United States. We have seen so many examples where Republicans will destroy businesses, wreck school systems and so on to gut unions. Destroying the postal system would be right in line with that history.

Imagine if you will of having to depend on Fed Ex or UPS for mail delivery. Rates would no doubt skyrocket. Like so many industries today mail delivery without the USPO would have only two major players. Competition with the USPO currently helps to keep rates lower than they would be were only Fed Ex and UPS delivering the bulk of the mail. 

Last mile delivery would probably be gone. Actually many services we take for granted today would be tossed in the name of streamlining. Losing the USPO would be a major blow for citizens and businesses alike.

Like so many changes Republicans have made since Reagan, this may be shoved down our throats and we will be told “too bad if you don’t like it!” 

Mail service seems to be a basic function of our government, especially a government that ostensibly is answerable to the people. Moving basic mail into private hands feels like a bad idea. 

Some may say that most correspondence will soon be done electronically but not all folks have computers. With the loss of internet neutrality even email may get expensive.

Like so many things I fear we won’t know what we had ’til it’s gone.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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