Deena Bess Sherman
Updated: May 9, 2013 2:29PM
In the immortal words of Joni Mitchell: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got til it’s gone?”
Right now America has an agency that is self-funding; does not ask for taxpayer money; is the nation’s second largest employer; provides solid middle class jobs that support families; offers rates for its services that are lower than its competitors; and is capable of reaching nearly every American citizen quickly in the case that something such as vaccines need distributing. It’s called the United States Postal Service and you’ve probably been hearing some lies about it recently.
Most broadcast news reports that cutbacks are needed because it’s going broke because it can’t compete. The fact is that the sole problem is a 2006 law that demands the USPS fund pensions and healthcare about 75 years into the future! No other business is asked to do that in this country. That’s crazy. But instead of simply repealing the bad legislation, some politicians are taking this opportunity to dismantle an institution that has served us well since our country’s birth.
Both good and bad legislation concerning the USPS died at the end of Congress’ last session. This session, the plan seems to be to dismantle the USPS one little piece at a time, starting with Saturday delivery (HR30). The stupid thing is, without the prefunding mandate for employees that haven’t even been born yet, the USPS would actually be making a nice profit! No jobs need to be lost, no services cancelled.
Though our government does not financially support the USPS, Congress has been quick to impose ever increasing regulation and tie its hands from competing more effectively. Yet regardless, they compete. Sending a 2 ounce letter to arrive in two days from here to my family in western New York costs $24.63 with UPS. First class stamps on 2 ounces are well under a dollar.
“We provide the cheapest, most productive delivery in the world,” said Ken Christy, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers in Illinois. He noted that first class letters are carried to Alaska and Hawaii for the same low price as other states. “We have 260 processing plants right now. Other carriers have maybe three or four. If that network is ever dismantled, it isn’t coming back.”
I don’t even understand what the end game is for Congress. Cutting back middle class jobs that support families and hire veterans? Paving the way for independent carriers that give to their campaigns? One thing I know is that some don’t want to talk about it.
A Beacon reader in Plano, Michael Svanovick, called Congressman Randy Hultgren’s office (202-225-2976) to ask about his stance on the pre-funding problem. An intern said the office would call back. They didn’t. So 10 days later he called again. No answers, no call back. He tried again. He was given misinformation about the USPS getting government funding, but no answers.
The message to Congress is simple: repeal the prefunding mandate now. Don’t support any legislation that cuts services (such as House Bill 30) when that has nothing to do with fixing the problem. The problem is the 2006 Postal Accountability & Enhancement Act. It’s like forcing a family to take half their income and invest it for their children’s retirement rather than paying their current bills! Wednesday a new bill, HB 630 was proposed that keeps 6-day delivery and addresses the gross overpayments for future benefits.
Or perhaps it’s time to let our USPS simply be independent. Let’s give them their money back and let them operate like any other American business, without the extra interference from Congress.