President Trump and Congress have been bailing out businesses with multiple Coronavirus relief packages. One business they haven’t helped is the US Postal Service. In fact, Trump has suggested shutting down the post office and privatizing the services.
I think that is a terrible idea for the American public. The US Postal Service (USPS) is the general public’s most cost-effective and convenient way to send letters and packages to other people in this country. The Postal Service was created by the Founding Fathers because they realized how important it was for us to stay in communication with each other and with the government.￼ President Thomas Jefferson even wanted the newspaper to be delivered free to every person in the US to keep us informed.
Privatization of government services never benefits the people. I can’t think of any instance in which a service was privatized, and the people actually got better service and/or more cost-effective service. With privatization, the service always gets worse, more expensive, and less widespread and universal.￼ It’s costs 55 cents for one first class postage stamp; that is the cost to mail a letter to anyone in the US. To send a Fed Ex letter, it costs $8.50– or $11 if the letter’s destination is more than 601 miles away. Plus, you have to take the letter to Fed Ex to mail it. Privatization is about making money. It’s not about providing quality, low-cost services in a non-discriminatory way, across the entire country equally for everybody.￼ That’s what the Postal Service gives us. If Trump succeeds in privatizing the postal service, thousands of union workers will lose their jobs, costs will skyrocket, convenience will be lost, and people in remote areas will lose mail service or pay ridiculous prices in order to guarantee a profit.
I think the USPS should be expanded, not eliminated. I believe that we should have all mail-in voting with universal voting access laws across the country– not the patchwork of voter suppression and localized voting laws that we have now. Secure mail picked up and delivered by the USPS is an integral part of mail-in voting. There is too much variability in how elections are run and who gets to vote in the US. Widespread deregulation of voting has created fiefdoms in County Recorders’ offices and allowed state legislatures (like ours) to make voting increasingly more difficult. During the pandemic, mail-in voting is safer than in-person voting. Why don’t Republicans want you to vote? Why are Republican-controlled legislatures like ours forcing you to risk disease and death in order to vote? Wisconsin was the first state that required people to go to the polls to vote; some of them have now tested positive for Coronavirus. Seriously, I thought the US was smarter than this. (BTW, if you live in Arizona and you want to vote by mail, you can sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List [PEVL] here.)
I also believe that the USPS should bring back postal banking and institute secure electronic mail and money transfer. The US had postal banking from 1911 – 1966, and it worked. From Slate, “Postal banking was America’s most successful experiment in financial inclusion—a problem we face again today. As we contemplate whether it has a place in our future we must recall the vital role it played in our past.”
I have vivid memories of walking to town to shop with my Grandmother when I was a child. The first stop was usually the post office at the east edge of downtown Amherst. We stopped there to make deposits, pay bills, buy stamps, mail letters, and get cash for shopping. While Grandma did her business, my brother and I checked out the WANTED posters. After the post office, we went from shop to shop on Park Avenue– to the butcher, the cobbler, the grocery store, the dime store, and (if we behaved) the Cookie Jar Bakery for treats. We bought what we needed and walked home with it. Grandma and Grandpa Springer were plain-spoken, salt-of-the-Earth working class folks who lived simply. According to this article in Slate, people like Grandma and Grandpa were the US postal bank’s core consumers– people from an immigrant background who had basic banking needs and who were looking for security.
Corporate America tossed out any semblance of customer service years ago. They are not providing secure package delivery, secure email, or secure banking. They get hacked. We get hurt and lose money, privacy and data. And all we get is a lame “Oopsie” apology from Corporate America or a cover-up and no apology. We deserve better service than we are getting from the corporate giants.
I believe that we need the US Postal Service, with the full force of the US government behind it, to provide us the secure communications, universal access to voting, and low-cost banking services we desire.￼￼
Dump Trump, not the Postal Service.
A Short History of Postal Banking: “As the debate over reinstituting postal banking heats up, we should know we had it. And it worked.” This is an excellent article that explains the rise of postal banking in the US.
Register to vote in Arizona and sign up for the Permanent Early Voting List (mail-in voting list) here.