Archive for U.S. postal service

U.S. Postal Service Watch: "It seems there is a push to privatize every possible service run by the government."

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Today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Saturday mail — and red ink," Editorial, April 11

The Times minimizes the need for Saturday delivery and glosses over one of the biggest culprits for the U.S. Postal Service's financial troubles: the responsibility for retiree benefits. The Postal Service is required by federal law to pre-fund retiree benefits, a burden that isn't placed on any other organization and costs it billions of dollars a year.

Not everyone uses email, and the private delivery companies are much more expensive than the Postal Service. It seems there is a push to privatize every possible service run by the government.

Sue Roediger

Alhambra

***

Agreed: The U.S. Postal Service doesn't exist mainly to provide jobs. But providing pretty good jobs is an excellent reason to maintain the service and six-day-a-week delivery.

A few days before this editorial was published, The Times ran grim reports on the declining quality of private-sector jobs. Where will good jobs for the average worker come from if not government employment?

Frank Stricker

Gardena

***

The problem with getting rid of Saturday delivery is that the letter carriers would have to deliver six days' worth of mail in five. I don't know about your postal carrier, but ours is overloaded and overworked already. Last Monday he delivered our mail at 9 p.m., which isn't uncommon.

Steve Paskay

Los Angeles

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"Ooo! Ooo! Who are you wearing?" "USPS, duh."

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who are you wearing usps

The United States Postal Service has budget issues that could be rectified, as you'll see in the email below. Doing away with the 75 year pension funding requirement would do wonders, but Republican hatred for unions and their goal to privatize America fuel their obstruction and destruction.

Meantime, the USPS is trying to pull in a little extra cash by introducing a collection of-- wait for it-- hip, "cutting edge" men's clothing and accessories. Women's wear is coming.

No, I'm not kidding. I can see it now, a giddy Ryan Seacrest on the Red Carpet calling out to Bradley Cooper, "Oo! Oo! Who are you wearing?" "Dude... USPS. Who else?"

L.A. Times:

The collection, to be called “Rain Heat & Snow,” will be made through a license agreement with Cleveland-based apparel firm Wahconah Group Inc. The Postal Service will not incur any cost and will collect royalties from sales, according to USPS spokesman Roy A. Betts.

The deal, which Betts said is “in the development and test phase,” will include outerwear, sportswear, casual wear, athletic wear and seasonal wear.

The clothing line, or “smart apparel,” will incorporate electronics like iPods that can be hooked up to, say, a jacket with volume controls on the sleeve.

Now if they can come up with a women's line of eye-popping designer gowns with plunging necklines and backless backs plus ban-worthy see-through fabrics and thigh-high slits (equipped with discreet Internet hook-ups) and create a little runway buzz and tons of name-dropping, they may be on to something.

Fun fashion news aside, “It’s called the U.S. Postal Service because it is a service, not a corporation.” The following email came to me from CREDO Action. I got a similar one from Color of Change, so it's good to see different groups are all over this:

The United States Postal Service announced last week that due to budget shortfalls, mail will no longer be delivered on Saturdays starting in August.

It's true the post office faces financial challenges. But the financial problems are in large part a direct result of an onerous and ill-considered 2006 law called the "Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act" (PAEA) that mandates pre-funding the postal service retiree health care and pension benefits for 75 years — something that no other government agency or private company is forced to do.

The vast majority — 85% — of the budget red ink comes from this pre-funding mandate despite the fact that, according to the post office Inspector General, the pension is over-funded and reserves for retiree health care are far higher than the federal government as a whole, the military and almost all Fortune 1000 companies.1

Tell Congress: Don't let Republicans kill the post office. Click here to sign this petition automatically.

Even with the declining levels of "snail mail," the post office still manages to deliver to every household in America a total of 563 million pieces of mail for an incredibly low cost. It does it efficiently, and without a penny of taxpayer money.2

But it's that very self-sufficiency that drove Congressional Republicans to hatch a long-term plan to destroy the agency by starving it of the ability to maintain services. By forcing the USPS to save an outrageous and unneeded nest-egg, the agency has been increasingly removed from revenues which would help it keep pace with the innovation of FedEx and UPS.

As a result, the post office has closed branches in some of the most rural areas, where it was the only government-affiliated location for miles around.

Rural post offices in particular are important institutions. Closing them, especially in areas with little or no access to broadband internet service, could have a major impact on the communities they serve. And closing them won't save much money.

Tell Congress: Don't let Republicans kill the post office. Click here to sign this petition automatically.

Undermining public services is exactly what Republicans have been doing since the Reagan-era, by cutting off normal, healthy revenues for any reason they can find — even if it requires doing something that in any other circumstance would be branded as total lunacy. FedEx and UPS would never be required to meet the same savings requirements as the USPS.

By making the public believe that government services are underfunded and poorly managed, Republicans can force more cuts, and eventually privatize services altogether, handing over public goods to private corporations that enrich a select few at the expense of many.

And if the USPS dies, FedEx and UPS will have been delivered an entire, centuries-old industry at wholesale cost.

But all of this can be avoided by making simple and popular reforms to the postal service like those proposed last year in a bill by Delaware Senator Thomas Carper. His bill would have allowed the USPS to stretch out payments for future retirees for the next 40 years, while recouping $11 billion the government has overcharged the postal service.3

If Congress can't get its act together and implement these necessary and simple reforms, the postal service will be forced to continue cutting staff and services. Legislators must act now to repeal the PAEA and put the post office back on equal footing.

Tell Congress: Don't let Republicans kill the post office. Click the link below to sign this petition automatically.
http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6996482&p=usps_sat_delivery&id=55073-3929408-8oa51Ux&t=8

Thank you for standing up for the post office.

Jordan Krueger, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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Bipartisan deal to help U.S. Postal Service is "very close"

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USPS post office facts

This L.A. Times letter to the editor is worth a re-post (I managed to lose the link, sorry):

Re “Saturday mail delivery slated to end in August,” Feb. 7

It’s called the U.S. Postal Service because it is a service, not a corporation. Who decided the Postal Service must be profitable? Do other government agencies, like the Defense Department and the Department of Education, have to turn a profit?

Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general, and the Post Office has effectively served the American people for 237 years. But now it is under attack because, gasp, it’s losing money. No wonder: The Republicans in 2006 made postal workers pre-fund their retirement 75 years in advance, making it nearly impossible for the USPS to make a profit.

Let’s be honest: Conservatives want to privatize the Postal Service, home to two of the nation’s largest unions. If Congress insists that the USPS be profitable (and it shouldn’t), then the solution is simple: Raise the price of stamps a few cents.

Arlen Grossman

Monterey

The rest of that post is well worth a look, too, including this Ed Schultz quote:

You see, the post office is required by law to provide universal delivery, regardless of geography and regardless of whether or not they’re going to make a profit. It’s a big service for America. This is a rights issue. This is more not so much about convenience, this is about what you in Real America voted for: Tea Party America.

So now, after the USPS has announced the demise of Saturday mail delivery, Congress seems ready to act. The question is, what will they do? I trust Darrell Issa the way I trust Anthem Blue Cross to provide the opportunity for "high quality care at a low cost."

Via The Hill:

Bipartisan legislation to help the struggling U.S. Postal Service could be enacted and sent to President Obama’s desk within months, top lawmakers said Wednesday. 

Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), testifying before a Senate panel, said that last-minute efforts at postal reform in the previous Congress came very close to a bipartisan agreement.

Cummings, the ranking Democrat at the House Oversight Committee, even went so far as to say the legislation could make it through both chambers before the end of March.

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"It's called the U.S. Postal Service because it is a service, not a corporation."

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PLEASE NOTE: As you know, I'm going through a pretty painful medical issue, but nothing life-threatening, so no worries. But it's keeping me down and also very busy going from doctor to doctor, getting CTscans, blahblah. So, I won't be here much today. I should be back for the weekend, then off again most of Monday.

But this issue is one that MUST get more attention. Please call your Congress members and share this post.

post office cartoon david horseyDavid Horsey is one of my favorite political cartoonists.

His full take (Postal Service dying from 1,000 cuts and a GOP stab in the back) is at the link, as is this poll:

post office poll

Here is today's L.A. Times letter to the editor, because our voices matter, and this sums things up pretty well:

Re "Saturday mail delivery slated to end in August," Feb. 7

It's called the U.S. Postal Service because it is a service, not a corporation. Who decided the Postal Service must be profitable? Do other government agencies, like the Defense Department and the Department of Education, have to turn a profit?

Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general, and the Post Office has effectively served the American people for 237 years. But now it is under attack because, gasp, it's losing money. No wonder: The Republicans in 2006 made postal workers pre-fund their retirement 75 years in advance, making it nearly impossible for the USPS to make a profit.

Let's be honest: Conservatives want to privatize the Postal Service, home to two of the nation's largest unions. If Congress insists that the USPS be profitable (and it shouldn't), then the solution is simple: Raise the price of stamps a few cents.

Arlen Grossman

Monterey

Well said.

Of course, the GOP would rather we Americans don't communicate with each other, because when we do, we discover more about their party.

Now to more fully understand what's going on, here are two excellent Ed Schultz segments. Last night's (the second video) included some great insights into how "Real America" will be affected:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ed:

Sarah Palin. She called it "Real America." Look at the 2012 election map. Look at all that red that's there. That's "Real America," isn't it? That's Republican territory, or what Republicans like to call Real America. That's where Republicans are elected year after year.

And it's the area that's going to be hit hardest by the restructuring of the post office. A restructuring crisis created by the very Republicans elected in Real America.

Now, while many Americans, 'ehhh you'll shrug off the postal service's decision to suspend Saturday service delivery,' the consequences, my friends, could be devastating. Not just that we're going to lose 22,500 jobs that are at stake, but the postal service has already started to close, or drastically reduce hours of operation at 13,000 rural offices across Real America.

Many rural communities that are Republican, that have less than reliable access to the Internet, depend on the post office to send mail to do business and are going to be faced with shorter hours at the post office, meaning business is going to get hurt.

It's going to be less competitive. Many people think that companies like FedEx and UPS, oh they'll just come in and fill the gaps. They are wrong. It's estimated that about 30% of FedEx ground shipments are actually delivered by who? The United States Postal Service. Why? Because it's cheaper for UPS and FedEx to make the postal service deliver to Real America.

You see, the post office is required by law to provide universal delivery, regardless of geography and regardless of whether or not they're going to make a profit. It's a big service for America. This is a rights issue. This is more not so much about convenience, this is about what you in Real America voted for: Tea Party America.

All our previous posts here:

Is Darrell Issa going after postal workers? Lawmakers question pay for USPS employees

VIDEO- Thom Hartmann: Destroying the Postal Service – another Manufactured Crisis

VIDEO- Allison Kilkenny on Countdown with… Sam Seder talks “Postal Workers: The Last Union”

Privatizing the post office is a really, really bad idea

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Privatizing the post office is a really, really bad idea

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Michael Hiltzik's column in the L.A. Times addresses the problems with privatizing the post office. He's spot on when he says there's an artificial fiscal crisis, and it would be a terrible idea.

The reason it's a fake crisis is that the Postal Service uniquely pre-funds retiree health care costs. Who else does that? Allison Kilkenny writes about that here:

"It's almost hard to comprehend what they're talking about, but basically they said that the Postal Service would have to fully fund future retirees' health benefits for the next 75 years and they would have to do it within a ten-year window," says Chuck Zlatkin, political director of the New York Metro Area Postal Union.

It was an impossible order, and strangely, a task unshared by any other government service, agency, corporation or organization within the United States. The act meant that every September 30th, the USPS had to cough up $5.5 billion to the Treasury for the pre-funding of future retirees' health benefits, meaning the Postal Service pays for employees 75 years into the future. The USPS is funding the retirement packages of people who haven't even been born yet.

But politically speaking, why is the U.S. Postal Service such a target for the GOP?

It's heavily and effectively unionized, for one thing. For another, over a long period the post office has been a reliable steppingstone to the middle class for African American families. (Black workers make up about 11% of the USPS payroll, about twice their representation in the overall workforce.) Maybe some people just think these workers are expendable.

Oh, that. What a surprise that race would enter it. Who ever would have suspected?

Then there's that Republican fixation on government services:

If every government program were held to this standard, we would have no interstate highways. No international airports. No Internet. No levees on the Mississippi and no Hoover Dam.

These things were all designed or built precisely because private industry was unable to make a cost-effective case for the investment. In each case, however, it was understood sooner or later that, if the cost were spread out over the entire country and even over several generations, the expenditure would be plenty worthwhile

Privatizing is about profits, not about public service. That much is obvious. Need an example? How about the Internet Machine:

Don't overlook the evidence that big Internet providers such as Comcast are willing to torpedo open-Internet rules to benefit their own subsidiaries. These are the companies that will have a stranglehold on nationwide communications in a post-privatized world.

The good ol' U.S. mail is private, not privatized. Big Government can't open your mail without a court order. However, emails are a different story. Per Hiltzik, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other private email businesses can pretty much poke around your private email business without worry of being hauled off to privatized prisons.

Here's the bottom line:

Government is not a business, and citizens are not customers. Universal mail service is one of the defining characteristics of a civilized society, and why would anyone want to throw away something so precious at any price?

Answer: To make money.

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VIDEO- Allison Kilkenny on Countdown with... Sam Seder talks "Postal Workers: The Last Union"

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Allison Kilkenny is not only a friend, a talented writer, performer, and co-host of Citizen Radio, she's also married to the other co-host, the hilarious Jamie Kilstein.

She wrote an excellent piece over at Truthout, and we are proud to see her on Countdown discussing it with yet another favorite, Sam Seder!

Bit h/t to @ReasonVsFear for the video grab!

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VIDEO- Thom Hartmann: Destroying the Postal Service - another Manufactured Crisis

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As Thom Hartmann said this morning on the Radio Machine, Darrell Issa is "Wisconsining" the postal service.

:

The United States Post Office is on the verge of shutting down. According to the New York Times - the Post Office is quickly running out of cash and may be forced to shut down this winter.

While the media story line is that the Post Office is dealing with the problem of trying to remain profitable in a world of decreasing paper mail - the real cause is actually something much, much different. Consider that this year - like every year since 2006 - the Post Office is legally required to make a $5 billion annual contribution to a retirement account to pay for future retirees who aren't even born yet.

For more on this Thom Hartmann is joined by Chuck Zlatkin - Legislative and Political Director of the New York Metro Area Postal Union.

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