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The manufactured crisis weakening the postal service continues to do its work. In fact, the postal service is estimating that it will run out of cash in October. Typical congressional dysfunction is slowing bills that would worsen the service's problems and ones that would help it alike:
It wants to end Saturday mail delivery, close hundreds of letter-sorting facilities and thousands of post offices, and has said it would consider breaking union contracts to fire protected employees. The plan would let it set up an independent health plan, more easily raise rates, and enter new businesses, such as delivering wine and liquor.

The Senate, on a 62-37 vote, passed a measure last April that would have authorized the Postal Service to provide non- postal products and services, revise benefit payment obligations, and offer retirement incentives. The bill, however, would have made it more difficult to quickly close facilities and delayed for at least two years any move to deliver mail five days a week instead of six.

The House didn’t take up that measure. It never scheduled a floor vote on its own postal overhaul bill, which would have created an independent commission to oversee closings, modeled on the Defense Department process for shutting military bases.

Raising rates is a clear step to take—postal rates in the U.S. are lower than in many other countries—as is allowing the postal service to expand its services to wine and liquor, for starters—other proposals have included post offices having notary publics, handling hunting and fishing licenses, offering copying services, and more. Ending Saturday delivery and slowing first-class mail delivery, on the other hand, would end up cutting revenues as people turned to other delivery services (even more expensive ones) when they were in a hurry. But then, pushing business to private companies, and preventing the postal service from competing effectively with private companies, has been the plan all along.

Congress has been getting in the way of the postal service for years, and it's going to take years to fix the damage. But the postal service isn't just another business, and shouldn't be treated as one; it's a part of our government, a guarantee that we're all linked to the rest of the country. It's time to quit treating the manufactured crisis as an inevitable force of nature and let the postal service expand its services and innovate.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:54 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's a money-grab. And Congress is making it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew F Cockburn, liz dexic

    possible. It's bad enough that the Postal Service is being run by Fed-Ex and UPS people without our elected officials making it easier for them to destroy the Post Office. Shameful.

    •  That's not what's going on. (8+ / 0-)

      UPS Lobbyists are responsible along with the Blount brothers for the 2005 Postal Act that started this mess.  

      UPS at that time thought it would be wonderful to take the Postal Service's package delivery business.  FedEx, too, was interested, but not quite as rabidly aggressive.

      Anyhow, the reality is that the Postal Service provides what is called "the last mile" delivery for a large number of both UPS and FedEx packages -- and that is because the Postal Service has the infrastructure and the mandate to deliver to every address in America.

      The "last mile delivery" issue is key here because UPS and FedEx have finally figured out that it is probably cheaper for them to rely on the Postal Service than it would be for them to build their own vast infrastructure on the scale of the Postal Service.

      AND cutting USPS Saturday delivery would hurt FedEx and UPS because they rely on that "last mile delivery" service from the Postal Service on Saturdays, too.

      Just another great example of how the free market can screw not only the American people and their government services, but also themselves with their short-sighted greed.

  •  I've always wondered... (3+ / 0-)

    ... why aren't there ads on stamps?  How much would coca-cola pay to have their logo on millions of letters?  Seems like an easy source of revenue.

    •  Yeah - why aren't their billboards plastered (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew F Cockburn, Sparhawk

      all over the White House and all over the Mall promoting various products?

      Why don't we sell ad space on voting cards?

      Why didn't they find a way to include advertising space on the Capitol Building when they restored it a few years ago?

      While the Postal Service is a private enterprise, it still is a public enterprise and thus is subject to much more stringent rules about partnerships and advertising.  At one point they did a deal to have Coke machines in Post Offices nationwide.  Pepsi got pissed off and the then PMG Marvin Runyon was investigated by Congress and a whole host of other agencies for doing the deal.  He was accused of personally profiting from the deal because he had some Coke stock in his huge portfolio of stock holdings.  Coke won the bid for the business in a competitive process per the rules, but that didn't prevent the uproar.  In any case, there are no soda machines in Post Offices now.

      The whole stamp design process is actually pretty cool which would be another reason not to sell the stamps as ad space, although I'm sure that over at the Postal Service with the challenges they have, there would be plenty of people interested in that extra revenue.

  •  The Tea Bag/Republicans want to break the Union. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dark UltraValia, rbird

    “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius

    by LamontCranston on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 08:53:53 AM PST

    •  So true! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The USPS' unions are some of the strongest in the country.

      You know that they can't have any strong unions keeping the 1% from taking the country back to the robber baron days.

      Why, if these unions successfully stay strong it would be an encouragement to others to unionize and the poor corporations might be forced to do right by the people!

  •  Yeah, the Post Office Fiscal Cliff (4+ / 0-)

    worked so well in beta test they extended it to the whole gubmint.

    "Hey! Let's create a faux crisis by doing something unimaginably dumb, and then pretend we've got no cotrol over this."

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 10:25:07 AM PST

  •  And please don't forget the pensions. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuclear winter solstice, rbird

    That money needs to be paid back. Funding retirements for 75 years (meaning for people who haven't even been born yet) is absolutely ridiculous!

    Of course, with the House still in Republican hands and the current PMG not pushing for a change to the retirement pre-funding issue, it may take an absolute miracle to fix what the 2006 lame duck congress broke.

  •  today I saw a tv commercial in which people were (0+ / 0-)

    all happy because they could get their "mail" at the nearby UPS store which now had "mailboxes." How convenient, it's right near my workplace, says one. I can call the store and they'll tell me if I have mail, before I run out to come get it, says another... Seems like the writing is on the wall here, since nobody in this ad mentioned packages. What's "brown" gonna do for us next?

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