Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Is The Post Office Being Stuck Up?

The first news I got that something was wrong was when I heard that it has been planned to stop Saturday deliveries....Then was when I, who must have been living under a rock all this time began to look a little deeper and realize that the Post Office as I knew it, the Post Office my grandmother used to tell me to seek employment at because...(You know your Grandmother or some older relative has said it to you..)

"There is always work at the Post Office!"

That has probably been true for generations...but it's not true now...I mean, I pay all of my bills on line now...I do my banking on line now and I don't write letters to anyone anymore.....Haven't written a letter since the 80's.... With email, texting and social media (Facebook, Twitter,Blogger) who does anymore???

Maybe around Christmas I still mail Christmas cards and I do ocassionally mail Birthday cards off, but that's it....Even the things I order from Amazon, et al are delivered by FEDEX ....And if I am like most Americans....then that cuts into the Post Office's business...I get magazines in the mail and bills(I like to keep hard copies..) but that's about it..

But here's the rub..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.

The vast majority — 85% — of the budget red ink comes from this pre-funding mandate despite the fact that, according to the post office Inspector General, the pension is over-funded and reserves for retiree health care are far higher than the federal government as a whole, the military and almost all Fortune 1000 companies.

Bet you didn't know that?   I didn't know it until I started doing some research...I'm a closet nerd, what can I say?

Even with the declining levels of "snail mail," the post office still manages to deliver to every household in America a total of 563 million pieces of mail for an incredibly low cost.

It does it efficiently, and without a penny of taxpayer money.

But it's that very self-sufficiency that drove Congressional Republicans to hatch a long term plan to destroy the agency by starving it of the ability to maintain services. By forcing the USPS to save an outrageous and unneeded nest-egg, the agency has been increasingly removed from revenues which would help it keep pace with the innovation of FedEx and UPS.

As a result of this, the post office has closed branches in some of the most rural areas, where it was the only government-affiliated location for miles around. Rural and small town  post offices in particular are important institutions. Closing them, especially in areas with little or no access to broadband internet service, could have a major impact on the communities they serve. And check this out..regardless of what some politician tells you, closing them won't save much if any money.

I know that's hard to believe....That a politician would lie...I know...but it's true.

Undermining public services is exactly what some  Republicans have been doing since the Reagan-era, by cutting off normal, healthy revenues for any reason they can find — even if it requires doing something that in any other circumstance would be branded as total lunacy.

FedEx and UPS would never be required to meet the same savings requirements as the United States Post Office. By making the public believe that government services are underfunded and poorly managed, Republicans can force more cuts, and eventually privatize services altogether, handing over public goods to private corporations that enrich a select few at the expense of many. Sound Familiar??

 If the United States Post Office dies, FedEx and UPS will have been delivered an entire, centuries-old industry at wholesale cost. But all of this can be avoided by making simple and popular reforms to the postal service like those proposed last year in a bill by Delaware Senator Thomas Carper.

His bill would have allowed the US Postal Service to stretch out payments for future retirees for the next 40 years, while recouping $11 billion the government has overcharged the postal service.

If Congress can't get its act together and implement these necessary and simple reforms, the postal service will be forced to continue cutting staff and services. Legislators must act now to repeal the PAEA and put the post office back on equal footing.

Question is...Will this Congress do anything for the public good?  It all remains to be seen..

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