Why Has Congress Gone Postal?

21 Feb

There has always been one thing that I could always count on…The Postman always cometh…but beginning in August on Saturdays, he shall cometh no more.

Did you know that the United States Postal Service delivers 660 million pieces of mail to 142 million delivery points in the United States every day? And did you know that it was the U.S Constitution in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 that gave Congress the responsibility to establish and ensure operation of the Postal Service way back in 1792… and it’s been in operation ever since? That’ a lot of mail!

And even though many of us have poked fun at the post office by declaring its letters “snail mail,” ever since the advent of the internet, the post office still manages to deliver to every household in America at low cost, efficiently, and…get this… without a penny of taxpayer money!

So why is it experiencing budget difficulties and having to cut back on its services? I bet you’re thinking that it’s because of its out dated and “snail like” service and ponderous union workers’ benefits  and wages, and stifling bureaucratic red tape…right?…but you’d be wrong.

The real reason is that Congress, that very same government entity empowered to create it, has for some reason unknown to man or beast, set out to destroy it.

Yes, it’s absolutely true! Because In 2006 a law called the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act”  was approved by Congress that mandates pre-funding the postal service retiree health care and pension benefits for 75 years into the future — something that no other government agency or private company is forced to do.

This means that the US Post Office must pre-fund the healthcare and retirement benefits of employees that it hasn’t even hired yet! To the tune of 5.5 billion dollars a year. And this mandate was passed in the House of Representatives by a voice vote only and then it was passed in the Senate by Unanimous Consent. And remember, this is the same Senate that today can’t decide to take a vote on anything..

As a result of this incredible new law 85%  of the USPS budget red ink comes from this pre-funding mandate. In fact without this incredibly ridiculous requirement the USPS would have over a 1 billion dollar surplus… and it should also be noted that the retiree health care account is fully funded for every current employee.

And because of this insane Congressional new rule, the post office has already been forced to close 500 post offices, cut operating hours, lay off 13,000 workers and bump 9,000 employees down to part time, with an additional 30,000 jobs being threatened. What business would lay off current employees in order to assure workers who haven’t even been hired yet of  health care benefits when they retire???

So what’s going on? Who is Congress working for and why have they decided to “Go Postal” (sorry post office but who doesn’t know this unfortunate phrase?) on one of the oldest and most reliable institution we have!

Is it because they want to make the  public believe that government services are underfunded and poorly managed, forcing more cuts, and eventually privatizing services altogether, handing over public goods to private corporations that enrich a select few at the expense of many? That’s all I can come up with…how about you?

If the American Congress does not right this wrong, which private sector member do you suppose will stand to benefit most from the postal service shutting down and who will get the contract from the US government to privatize the post office?

And by the way, Did you know that the USPS is the 3rd largest employer in America? Can you name the top 2?

#1 is the U.S. Government.

And in second place is that employer we’d all love to work for?…

Wal-Mart!

For we all know that nothing more embodies the American Dream and our pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness like having a job at Wal-Mart!

…And I fear that  Privatization shall cometh for us all when the Postman cometh no more.

10 Responses to “Why Has Congress Gone Postal?”

  1. Sonya February 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    Maybe we should go back to the days of running our letters from one town to the next (crappy job anyone?). That is a pretty stupid ruling, I don’t mind not getting mail on Saturday, but at the same time why create less jobs? It is clearly not what is needed right now. How frustrating.

  2. RAB February 21, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Thank you for this fine and important post. I have been trying to inform everyone in my Facebook reach for over a year about this; so have plenty of others–BUT Congress remains complacent about destroying the P.O. An important component of postal service you haven’t mentioned is the informal vigilance mail carriers exercise over “their” neighborhoods–especially important for the elderly, the ill, and the depressed. They have a system in place for alerting emergency and service organizations to situations that cause them concern. When’s the last time U.P.S. did this? The GOP craze to privatize everything is clearly behind the war on the P.O., even though the P.O. is now self-funded rather than funded by taxes. Keep telling people about this! It is a real war, and it is of great concern.

  3. bubblytee February 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    I believe that the post office is also pricing itself off the market. I mailed two soaps in a small box yesterday, to a friend who lives 2 states away and it cost $9.00 to mail it. They may be so desperate to stay afloat that they are making their competitors more appealing,…as much as we’d like for them to succeed, and avoiding pirivatization.

  4. Mark Armstrong February 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    Those are the Top Three employers, eh? At least Wal-Mart immediately marks down leftover candy by 50% the day after a holiday– I wish the other two could make themselves useful once in awhile… : )

  5. onnovocks February 21, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Great post. I think, but I’m not certain, that the traditional mail is deliberately being destroyed to be replaced by surveilance email. To monitor every piece of paper would be nearly impossible and cost prohibitive, but email is already stored by the providers and can readily be retreived and read. Email is not treated the same as “snailmail” with respect to privacy etc. Without mail delivery it will force everyone to pay their bills electronically, or show up in person. The dataminers wins again!

  6. Tracy Goodwin February 21, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    Congress is completely insane when it comes to the postal service. Congress writes all the rules the post office is allowed to play by then Congress blames the post office when they aren’t a highly successful business.

  7. serendipityherbals February 22, 2013 at 12:49 am #

    There is no benefit to keep paying taxes if we are degrading all our commons to dust. It seems, USPS is, or WAS a very important part of our commons, our culture. I do sense, the underlying culture is in a disintegrating phase, at this time. My own opinion is this is a shame, USPS ties people together, the post people tie our neighborhoods together. When we privatized our prisons in Washington State, we gave away our incarcerated workforce who worked on community projects (roads, license plates, clean-up, etc) to large companies as privatized workforce. Meanwhile, our taxes still pay for the prisons, but the public has lost help with the commons, and greedy large business has a free workforce. Anyway, here is a little snippet from one of my study groups, and passing on! If this postal worker sounds stressed, she is!

    >>>
    First Class Parcels are being moved from mailing services to shipping services with a HUGE price increase. I mean 50% price increase. This is to help offset the cost we have incurred from having to comply with export regulations since we now have to stand there and manually enter all that information on the customs forms. There will be a flat rate of $6.55 to all countries on all FCMI parcels weighing 1 or 2 ounces.

    Before everyone starts foaming at the mouth getting ticked off at the Postal Service I want you all to be aware of some very harsh realities we are facing. We are self supporting and we do NOT receive any taxpayer money to operate. So, no. Your taxes do not pay my salary or for any supplies we have. Your postage does. Congress has impose this unprecedented mandate for prefunding of retirement accounts which has forced us to borrow money from the treasury. We reached our borrowing limit in October 2012 so we are literally living paycheck to paycheck. They have reduced the work force by 20% in the past 5 years, closed processing plants and Post Offices and will continue to do so until Congress gives us some relief (that is let us keep the money we make). Everyone thinks we have cushy jobs but we don’t. There are Postal Workers dropping dead on the job. I am a window clerk and so many people think I just stand there and sell stamps all day then at 5:00 I just close the window and go home. I walk several miles a day inside the office and I also have to do all the purchasing, bulk mail, scanning and working parcels from drop shipments (which can be 400 a day easily), collect and dispatch the mail, process passport application, answer the phones and do a lot of cleaning up behind other people. And I can’t leave until all of the carriers are back, so I don’t get to just close the window and leave. So please be kind to your postal workers, especially the good ones.<<<

  8. swaggadigitalmagazine February 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Reblogged this on SDM MAGAZINE.

  9. kelsheets February 22, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    I appreciate your visit to my site! I would not have found this really interesting post had you not stopped by.
    I LOVE snail mail. I am sad as it is that it is so rare to send a letter anymore. I really enjoyed the comment also about how the mail ‘person’ is such a community component that watches over those alone at home.
    Thanks for the morning insight,
    Kelly

  10. Durell Anthony Gaston February 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    Great blog on the subject; I commend you for posting it.

    I would like to comment on the question that you posted about the rationale for foisting such a fiscally idiotic requirement on the Post Office; “Who is Congress working for and why have they decided to “Go Postal” (sorry post office but who doesn’t know this unfortunate phrase?) on one of the oldest and most reliable institution we have!”. I think that you should also look at the fact that the Post Office is the largest union in America. With this fact, unions are democracy in the workplace and that is not allowed by the Republicon theocracy.

    I would also point out that unions support Democrats for the most part and again that is not allowed by the Republicon theocracy! A final rationale for this 75 year burden on the Post Office is delivers two Republicon wet dreams! One, it projects, in some ways confirms, that government is incapable of functioning and that government is the problem. And two, it sends a great source of revenue to the private market, aka “their donors”.

    This is a classic “poison pill” legislation by Republicons in order to fulfill their political lies. I have had several discussions with Right leaning people on this subject but have not seen much movement or understanding from them after they are informed of the real reason there is a financial liability at the PO.

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