Which is more important to have: Guns or information?
It is so easy to miss all the changes we become okay with in times of fear. The undercurrent of the unknown, particularly in the absence of true leadership, can sweep a person right into drowning in a sea of Netflix. Psychologically, we shrink the world down to the smallest bits we feel we can manage. We become more and more willing to put anything on the bargaining table if we get to stop feeling fear as a reward.
And we look for things to blame, always seeming to land on things that have nothing to do with the actual problem. And for some reason, throughout my lifetime (40 years), one of these punching bags is the United States Postal Service.
It’s easy to pretend we don’t need them. Hell, I work for what might be considered a “competitor” with them; this would hold more water except the top service we use is USPS. More on that in a second. The point is that every day I see the people who don’t think we need them.
I have to explain how to address envelopes all the time. I’ve met people reluctant to “learn” how to fold a paper into thirds because “they don’t need to know that.” “It takes too long.” “What’s a stamp?” “All the mail is junk mail.” Etc. Etc. Those are the oblivious and fairly harmless people.
Then there is the group that, for reasons we can look up and other reasons on which we just have to speculate, hates the United States Postal Service. “The USPS hemorrhages money because it’s so poorly run.” “Fuck the government.” “It’s stupid and no one uses it.” “They’re unionized and look how well that’s working out for them.”
The point of this post is anecdotal. I’m not going to try to go through social media’s asinine promotion of false facts nor am I trying to explain their predicament leftover from a 2006 law instituted by Congress that said they had to have $72 billion for pay-ahead retirement benefits for the next 75 years. I’m not here to explain how devastating its closure would be for the U.S. military.
It’s just important to note that a Republican Congress laid the groundwork for privatization 14 years ago and just laid in wait for the opportunity to capitalize on it.
A pandemic is such an opportunity.
We ship more USPS packages than any other company for multiple reasons and the majority of these reasons make up the entire argument against privatizing the Post Office.
- They tend to be the most economical small packages to send. People needing to send masks or car keys or small books or anything less than a pound are going to pay very little to get that item across the U.S. in 3-5 days. The typical FedEx or UPS package does not exist in the single digits for cost.
- “We have to ship USPS because the other ones won’t go to their house.” Rural areas get mail without additional cost. A person can live in the absolute boondocky of boondocks and still receive things from other people. The others sometimes can’t or won’t and it isn’t required that they do. When those private companies DO deliver there, the typical surcharge begins at $30.
- Official government communication is typically only in USPS’s domain. Things like, oh, say, voting ballots. I personally don’t understand the joy Republicans feel when they get to disenfranchise more underrepresented populations; I just hope they are kept warm by the fire from the Constitution they’ve torched in doing so.
- For 55 cents, I can send a birthday card or a nice letter or baby photos to loved ones. I just put that stamp on an envelope and then 100 people I don’t know move that around until it gets to the person I love. It’s silly, I know, but if you underestimate the importance of something tangible versus electronic to your emotional well-being, then you’ll be… basically like everyone else. Object permanence is real.
- Article 1, Section 8, clause 7
- First Amendment + Bill of Rights + Supreme Court Rulings = Right to dissemination of information safe from privatization, yes? It’s a federal offense to open someone else’s mail; to throw away first class mail without contacting recipient; to place something other than U.S. Mail in an official U.S. Mailbox; and to send personal correspondence in the form of letters or cards through a private service unless deemed urgent and important. That’s ACTUAL privacy, not just what other business owners deem private.
The privatization of public entities destroys the fundamental purpose of those entities. The reason this is difficult for people to agree on lies entirely in the word “purpose.”
For one group, the only purpose in life is money. It is a singular-focused, razor sharp goal defined only by how to get more. They hate the government because they perceive the government as the blockade to more. And “more” is all that matters.
The other groups may disagree on many nuances within each government entity, but they all can see with absolute certainty that turning over something as crucial as the dissemination of information and ability to participate in democracy is a disaster in waiting.
Republicans want us to believe that they believe in a free market society. Yet the oldest, quasi-governmental institution that relies on zero tax dollars is going to be ignored because the bailouts should go toward companies that have failed in the free market?
The USPS would be solvent if the 2006 requirement is modified. Period. We don’t even have to really bail them out, though if one area is due for some help, it is them.
Trump is used to bankrupting his companies for the benefits he gains from doing so. Destroying the Postal Service is bankrupting Americans from information, the right to privacy, and accessibility to voting.
The benefits for him are easy to locate here. I feel like he’s had enough of those in his privileged existence. So maybe he doesn’t need this one, too.
I would be happy to send you a copy of this post. Just send me your address. I’ll cover the 55 cents. No worries.
Fun with Numbers!
472.1 million: Overall mail pieces processed and delivered each day.
181.9 million: First Class mail processed and delivered every day.
$890,000: Online sales of stamps and retail purchases every day.
$236 million: Revenue generated every day. (1)
100%: Items sold on eBay that are automatically offered USPS labels at discounted rates. (2)
45% to 60%: Overall Amazon sales shipped USPS (3)