If I had a nickel for every time a neighbor has complained on Facebook recently about our local post office, I’d bail out the entire U.S. Postal Service, which is $14 billion in debt.
See, that’s just the problem. The Postal Service has been struggling financially for years. Throw in a pandemic and record-breaking holiday shipping season (during which FedEx and UPS turned away customers as volume grew), and America’s most popular federal agency is woefully behind on deliveries.
But before you jump to conclusions about why, check out this new report from the Economic Policy Institute on what they call “the war against Postal Service.”
Here’s what they conclude:
- The Postal Service is a valuable public service. It connects family and friends, even in far flung places. It promotes democracy. It’s crucial to our emergency and national security infrastructure. And it provides good jobs, especially for Black workers and veterans.
- Most of its challenges were intentionally created. A 2006 law passed by Congress (then dominated by Republicans) sent the agency into a financial tailspin. The Postal Service was forced to slash labor costs and limited in how it can increase revenue.
- Privatization is not the answer. Selling the agency to FedEx, UPS, or Amazon would harm the consumers, workers, and small business owners who rely on universal service, especially those in rural areas. But that hasn’t kept billionaires like Charles Koch from pushing privatization.
If anything, the Postal Service should be unleashed to truly innovate for the 21st century.
Postal banking. Free WiFi. Community gardens. Affordable housing. Think about what we could do with the agency’s vast network of real estate. Nearly 99 percent of the U.S. population lives within ten miles of their nearest post office.
Those buildings are public. They’re ours.
I’m just as angry as my neighbors. My mom’s Christmas gift, which I ordered way back on December 7, still hasn’t arrived.
And that’s just a gift. Other people’s prescriptions aren’t showing up on time. Bills are going unpaid.
“I mailed five checks on the same day and nothing has cleared,” one of my city’s residents told the local news. “I feel so sorry for the postal workers because they are overwhelmed. And nobody yet has any answers as to how long this will take and when the bottom line comes down how do I even trust the United States Postal Service.”
We can fix the Postal Service if we allow it to innovate and give it the resources it needs.
If you agree, let’s make some noise about the value of a public Postal Service.
Talk to your neighbors (masked, of course). Support postal workers. Post on social media. Forward this email to friends. Sign this petition demanding incoming President Biden save the Postal Service.
I know there’s a lot going on in the world right now. But we need to do something before it’s too late.