Decommissioned mail boxes due to cutbacks in service to the US Postal Service
The US Postal Service was created in 1775 and it is mentioned in the US Constitution as a vital service. In 2006, FedEx and the United Parcel Service lobbied Congress to cripple the postal service by requiring it to prepay pension and health care plans to postal service employees 75 years in advance. The Bush administration pressed this measure through Congress in yet another example of crony capitalism, as it basically set up the private carriers to skim the revenue cream off of the top, leaving the unprofitable dregs to the government mail service.
Plans for the post office's privatization have been put forward by the Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation, a right wing think tank funded by the usual suspects of the Scaife Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation among others. With the pressure of Congressman Darrel Issa of California, Thomas Donohoe, the USPS administrator has gone with the flow and continued to cut back on postal services in every way, as well as putting numerous invaluable post office buildings up for sale.
Andrew Renach in an August Huffington Post article has said that an additional reason for this scheme is to provide an incredible $105 billion windfall to private real estate development interests. By law, the USPS is required to make payments of over $5 billion every year to fund its pension mandate despite the fact that the USPS now has the most richly funded pension accounts of any agency of the federal government.
The current administration has been forced to put up many post offices up for sale. Many of these buildings are not only architectural gems, but more importantly they constitute the beating heart of many communities. Particularly in rural areas, post offices are the only government building in the area. They represent the social center for rural populations, and it's anticipated that were these buildings to close they would effectively be the death warrant for numerous small towns all over America.
The only effective way to combat this defenestration is by political action. Concerted and creative demonstrations in San Francisco prevented three Bay Area post offices from being closed. A demonstration in Springfield, Oregon on November 3rd, was attended by 100 people with little organization and publicity, and yet it attracted the attention of three TV stations and multiple print media.
One of the things that I learned at the Springfield demonstration is that by unraveling one thread of public service, privatizers can create a dozen or more injuries to the body politic. While I knew the importance of the Springfield postal facility to the local economy, I had no idea that the transferring of mail to a distant facility near Portland would interfere with the counting of ballots. Nor did I have any idea of the impact the delay in mail service would have in distributing lab tests for hospitals and doctors. It goes without saying that if you are a small businessman who depends on Ebay or Amazon, you will find that your costs of business and time delays will increase substantially affecting your bottom line.
The mayor of Springfield spoke at the rally, and I told her that she needed to contact her Chamber of Commerce to do outreach with the entire business community so that they could put pressure on their legislators. If more public pressure is applied on Congressional officials, the easier it will be to roll back this horrible privatization scheme. And you can make a difference.
Rep. Peter De Fazio spoke at the rally, and he said that he had sponsored legislation on the post office that had more co-signers than any other on this issue, and yet Republican Darrel Issa, chair of the committee with oversight of the Postal Service, has consistently blocked this legislation.
The most powerful force for change will come from rural people in deep red states. They, and local chambers of commerce are in the best position to stop this little destruction of American society.
Be warned that if this libertarian experiment succeeds, the next target will be the American educational establishment.