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Forum Post: The Truth About the U.S. Postal Service By Jim Hightower

Posted 2 years ago on March 31, 2012, 7:29 a.m. EST by flip (6987)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The Truth About the U.S. Postal Service By Jim Hightower

What does 50 cents buy these days? Not a cuppa joe, a pack of gum or a newspaper. But you can get a steal of deal for a 50-cent piece: a first-class stamp. Plus a nickel in change.

Each day, six days a week, letter carriers traverse 4 million miles toting an average of 563 million pieces of mail, reaching the very doorsteps of our individual homes and workplaces in every single community in America. From the gated enclaves and penthouses of the uber-wealthy to the inner-city ghettos and rural colonias of America's poorest families, the U.S. Postal Service literally delivers. All for 45 cents. The USPS is an unmatched bargain, a civic treasure, a genuine public good that links all people and communities into one nation.

So, naturally, it must be destroyed.

For the past several months, the laissez-fairyland blogosphere, assorted corporate front groups, a howling pack of congressional right-wingers and a bunch of lazy mass media sources have been pounding out a steadily rising drumbeat to warn that our postal service faces impending doom. It's "broke," they exclaim; USPS "nears collapse"; it's "a full-blown financial crisis!"

These gloomsayers claim the national mail agency is bogged down with too many overpaid workers and costly brick-and-mortar facilities, so it can't keep up with the instant messaging of Internet services and such nimble corporate competitors as FedEx. Thus, say these contrivers of their own conventional wisdom, the Postal Service is unprofitable and is costing taxpayers billions of dollars a year in losses. Wrong.

Since 1971, the postal service has not taken a dime from taxpayers. All of its operations — including the remarkable convenience of 32,000 local post offices — are paid for by peddling stamps and other products.

The privatizers squawk that USPS has gone some $13 billion in the hole during the past four years — a private corporation would go broke with that record! (Actually, private corporations tend to go to Washington rather than go broke, getting taxpayer bailouts to cover their losses.) The Postal Service is NOT broke. Indeed, in those four years of loudly deplored "losses," the service actually produced a $700 million operational profit (despite the worst economy since the Great Depression).

What's going on here? Right-wing sabotage of USPS financing, that's what.

In 2006, the Bush White House and Congress whacked the post office with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act — an incredible piece of ugliness requiring the agency to PRE-PAY the health care benefits not only of current employees, but also of all employees who'll retire during the next 75 years. Yes, that includes employees who're not yet born!

No other agency and no corporation has to do this. Worse, this ridiculous law demands that USPS fully fund this seven-decade burden by 2016. Imagine the shrieks of outrage if Congress tried to slap FedEx or other private firms with such an onerous requirement.

This politically motivated mandate is costing the Postal Service $5.5 billion a year — money taken right out of postage revenue that could be going to services. That's the real source of the "financial crisis" squeezing America's post offices.

In addition, due to a 40-year-old accounting error, the federal Office of Personnel Management has overcharged the post office by as much as $80 billion for payments into the Civil Service Retirement System. This means that USPS has had billions of its sales dollars erroneously diverted into the treasury. Restore the agency's access to its own postage money, and the impending "collapse" goes away.

The post office is more than a bunch of buildings — it's a community center and, for many towns, an essential part of the local identity, as well as a tangible link to the rest of the nation. As former Sen. Jennings Randolph poignantly observed, "When the local post office is closed, the flag comes down." The corporatizer crowd doesn't grasp that going after this particular government program is messing with the human connection and genuine affection that it engenders.

America's postal service is a true public service, a grassroots people's asset that has even more potential than we're presently tapping to serve the democratic ideal of the common good. Why the hell would we let an elite of small-minded profiteers, ranting ideologues and their political hirelings drop-kick this jewel through the goal posts of corporate greed? This is not a fight merely to save 32,000 post offices and the middle-class jobs they provide — but to advance the BIG IDEA of America itself, the bold, historic notion that "yes, we can" create a society in which we're all in it together.

55 Comments

55 Comments


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[-] 3 points by Nevada1 (4784) 2 years ago

Hi flip, Your post attracted a new troll. This is validation of your post being good. The validation causes motivation to bump post to top of page often for greater visibility. Every troll response helps visibility as well. Best Regards

[-] 4 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

i like your line of thought - still hard to believe they are paid - what a country - well i guess those that have ruled the world for hundreds of years don't give it back without a fight

[-] 2 points by Nevada1 (4784) 2 years ago

So sad that people would hurt other people, for a little bit of money.

[-] 3 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

lots of money - and power - i am reading a history of rome - what craziness, from the emperors to the popes - murders and thieves. there are instances of civilization (like some indian groups) but most of human history is people hurting other people as you say - i just posted this - thought you might like it - REPUBLICANS often accuse Democrats of being socialists. But in North Dakota, socialism has been thriving for decades. It is the only state with a state-owned bank and a profitable state-owned grain elevator and flour mill, both of which the good people of North Dakota, who mostly vote Republican in presidential elections, embrace and value. Both institutions began embroiled in controversy. With all the vitriol about socialism and radicalism in the national debate today, is there anything we can learn from North Dakota?

All state revenues are deposited in the Bank of North Dakota, which promotes agriculture, commerce and industry in the state. It was the first bank in the country to provide a federally insured low-interest student loan; it supports new farmers in a state that has some of the toughest laws in the country limiting corporate farms; and through partnerships with local banks, it guarantees loans to commercial and industrial enterprises that directly benefit North Dakota. Before he became governor and then a United States senator, John Hoeven, a Republican, was the bank’s president. A Socialist Republican? That’s weird.

The high-tech grain elevator and mill towering above the prairies in Grand Forks is one of the largest and busiest in the country. The North Dakota Mill and Elevator Association competes with private grain elevators and mills but receives no taxpayer money to give it an unfair advantage and, like the bank, the association returns much of its annual profit to North Dakota’s general fund. Isn’t that socialism? What’s going on?

[-] 2 points by Nevada1 (4784) 2 years ago

Hi flip, Thank you for excellent post. Have learned much from this. A model for success.

[-] 3 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

it is so nice to have a normal response - the crazies are making me crazy! thanks

[-] 2 points by Nevada1 (4784) 2 years ago

That is why they are here, to disrupt. Best to not waste any time on the trolls with the food fight thing.

We will continue to get the truth out there.

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[-] -2 points by hitintheheadgirl (-73) 2 years ago

Yeah, the whole email thing, it'll pass. LOL. Progress is bad, it hurts people. LOL.

[-] 1 points by Quark3 (54) 2 years ago

I like the US Post Office & use it for my business because everything else is too expensive. People just don't get it. Without the post office there would be no real competition to the many overly expensive shipping companies. It is just a FACT.

[-] 2 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

that is why the free market fools want to kill it - it shows that goernment can be more effective than their beloved private enterprise

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[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (4784) 2 years ago

Hi Quark3, Agree. Best Regards

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[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (4784) 2 years ago

Good Post

[-] 1 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

thanks - i am being bombarded by the right! why are these people here - i am always wondering if they are paid to create problems - hard to believe that anyone would do that but still - why do they waste our time and theirs

[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (4784) 2 years ago

Likely paid, by those that want to control us. Best not to feed the trolls----Just keep posting.

[-] 1 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

good thinking

[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (4784) 2 years ago

back to the top

[-] 1 points by Concerned (455) 2 years ago

Well, let's see...I can write someone a letter for "free" - its called email. I can pay my bills online either through a bank or at the website of the company I need to pay whether it be my electric bill or a credit card bill. I can use FedEx or UPS for package delivery or even get free shipping straight to the recipient through Amazon or Sears or.....

Not such a "bargain" anymore.

[-] 3 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

shipped my skis to aspen in feb through the post office for $38 - ups wanted $92 - and what does you response have to do with the post? no one said you have to use the post office

[-] 1 points by Concerned (455) 2 years ago

Is it a "bargain" for a 45 cent stamp when I can pay my bills for free - send a letter (email) for free - send an ecard for free? That is relative to the post because the post said the stamp was a bargain....

As for pricing between UPS, FedEx and the Post Office, I have sometimes shipped for less with the Post Office and sometimes shipped for less from one of the other two.

The methods of paying bills and sending correspondence have changed. The post office has to modernize - simply saying it is a bargain is not true.

[-] 3 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

did you read the article - doesn't seem like it since what you say has little to do with what james is pointing out. how about these two numbers 1971 and 75 - now read it again and tell me what those numbers mean and why you think they are not important

[-] 1 points by Concerned (455) 2 years ago

"What does 50 cents buy these days? Not a cuppa joe, a pack of gum or a newspaper. But you can get a steal of deal for a 50-cent piece: a first-class stamp. Plus a nickel in change."

"Since 1971, the postal service has not taken a dime from taxpayers. All of its operations — including the remarkable convenience of 32,000 local post offices — are paid for by peddling stamps and other products."

Countered by the following:

"We are forced to face a new reality today,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in a statement. “First-Class Mail supports the organization and drives network requirements. With the dramatic decline in mail volume and the resulting excess capacity, maintaining a vast national infrastructure is no longer realistic."

"Right-wing sabotage of USPS financing, that's what.....In 2006, the Bush White House and Congress whacked the post office with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act — an incredible piece of ugliness requiring the agency to PRE-PAY the health care benefits not only of current employees, but also of all employees who'll retire during the next 75 years. Yes, that includes employees who're not yet born!"

Countered by:

Sponsors of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act

Rep. Thomas “Tom” Davis [R-VA11, Rep. Danny Davis [D-IL7] Rep. John McHugh [R-NY23, 2003-2009] Rep. Henry Waxman [D-CA30]

Vote to approve or reject a bill or resolution. 208 Republicans AYE 201 Democrats AYE 1 Independent AYE 20 Republicans NAY 0 Democrats NAY http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/109-2005/h430

More truth:

"In the darkness before dawn on Saturday, December 9, 2006 the U.S. Senate adopted H.R. 6407, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 by unanimous consent.

Thanks to NALC and a coalition of other unions (the Rural Letter Carriers and the Mail Handlers), management associations, vendors and mailers, Congress rejected almost all the negative recommendations of President Bush’s blue-ribbon Commission on the Postal Service. Instead it crafted a balanced compromise that emphasized pragmatism over ideology.

"More than a decade of legislative wrangling and political intrigue ended with the stroke of a pen December 20, 2006 at the White House when, with NALC President William H. Young as a witness, President George Bush signed into law the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.Congressional leaders in the postal reform campaign and other labor and industry officials also attended the ceremony, which was the fulfillment of NALC’s top legislative priority. "

“This law is the culmination of years of hard work by many NALC officers, the union’s legislative staff and our committed members,” Young said.

The NALC was instrumental in creating a coalition of postal industry, labor and management groups that propelled the process. The coalition members “placed the overall good of the postal community and the country above self-serving, parochial considerations,” Young said. As a result, the Postal Service can “continue top quality six-day universal service to all Americans.” http://www.nalc.org/postal/reform/paea_2006.html

You do know what the NALC is right? The National Association of Letter Carriers, NALC, - national labor union of city delivery letter carriers employed by the United States Postal Service.

Maybe it is you who should do a bit more reading instead of simply accepting historical revisionism.

[-] 3 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

so this - "Right-wing sabotage of USPS financing, that's what - should have read bipartisan sabotage - is that correct? and what about this -In 2006, the Congress whacked the post office with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act — an incredible piece of ugliness requiring the agency to PRE-PAY the health care benefits not only of current employees, but also of all employees who'll retire during the next 75 years. Yes, that includes employees who're not yet born!" one last question - is it true that for all this time when the post office made a profit it went into the general revenue??

[-] 1 points by Concerned (455) 2 years ago

Now we're getting somewhere....

Did you object to the statement that this was a "Right-wing sabotage of USPS financing" and point out that it was a bipartisan act of congress that was passed with a unanimous voice vote when you shared Hightower's piece? No, because that doesn't fit into your philosophy that anything not quite right in the world is the fault of the right wing and the left wing had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Now that it was proven to be a bipartisan act and not a "right wing" conspiracy by the link provided in my last post you admit the truth of the matter - funny isn't it how it is always the fault of the right until proven to be the fault of both parties.....but then the bipartisanship is derided as well? Why is it never considered that perhaps the intention was good but the practical application of something turned out to be just a bit more difficult than imagined?

Now to continue moving forward to a greater understanding of the propaganda surrounding this issue, can you accept the fact that the National Association of Letter Carriers, NALC - a union for those who don't understand this yet - "objected strenuously to one provision—requiring injured postal employees to wait three days before beginning Continuation of Pay benefits—the union played a crucial role in developing many of its most important provisions." ?

Or that the bill passed when none of the postal unions and none of the other major stakeholders sought to prevent its adoption under unanimous consent rules in the Senate?" You do get that the Post Office and the Unions did NOT object to the pre-funding clause at the time right?

And finally, can you see that only after the unintended consequences of the bill caused a financial issue for the Post Office that the very Democrats and Unions that supported the bill, now cry out that it was a "right wing" conspiracy to "destroy" the Post Office?

So instead of demonizing the right - or demonizing bi-partisanship - why not seek to have congress take a second look at the law and make some changes to it?

[-] -1 points by hitintheheadgirl (-73) 2 years ago

Now imagine them running more of healthcare. For government, even an obvious change like stopping Saturday delivery in response to email and crashing volume is agonizing and almost impossible.

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[-] 0 points by elf3 (2660) 2 years ago

Once the post is gone that e-mail will no longer be free it will be a subscription you pay for like cable: there -in lies the illusion. As well as the fact that once the post office is gone and all that is left are two major monopolies competing - they will merge and then they demand tax payer funds and the government will pay to keep them in business. Verizon or Comcast. UPS or Fed-Ex? Everything is moving toward subscription. Books will be that way as well - Red Box or NetFlix ... Amazon or Google? Narrowing choices, creating demand, creating scarecity , raising prices.

[-] 0 points by Concerned (455) 2 years ago

Well, email is a part of the internet providers service so we could say that technically we already pay for it. Bill paying - at least at the Credit Unions - and at most companies is also part of the policy for obtaining that service ..i.e. I have to pay my electric bill and the electric company allows me to pay that bill on line, as does my phone (both cell and land) and my auto insurance. Even a mortgage can be paid at the lender site or through the bank/credit union.

Reality is that nothing is "free". But, that doesn't change the point that a 45 cent stamp is not a bargain when I can pay my bills and send correspondence using my internet service.

[-] 3 points by elf3 (2660) 2 years ago

Again banks have already started charging more for the electronic transfers and fees are being implemented - how high do you think they will get when there is no mail to send a simple check? That 45cents begins to look better and better to me. $60.00 a month to transfer six bills - or 45 cents a mailed check? Don't forget the utilites in this as well they on for the take as well when you have no choice - you have no choice and everyone is laughing and padding their wallets except you. Pretty easy to see why they would advocate against the post office by making it free now? Same as Wal-mart drive everyone else out of business first by making it cheaper at first then charge whatever you want.

[-] 0 points by Concerned (455) 2 years ago

The banks have always had fees; wire transfires, money orders, checking account minimum balance fees, insufficient funds fees. Are they costing more now? Yes, but so is food and gas and electric and phone and insurance. Are we paying more hidden taxes and fees imposed by our local, state and federal government on all of those services and goods? Yes.

(And if you don't like the fees your bank is charging, switch to a Credit Union. We did that back in the 1980's.)

How much does this have to do with our ability to access the post office for our mail? Not very much. Consider the following:

"We are forced to face a new reality today,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in a statement. “First-Class Mail supports the organization and drives network requirements. With the dramatic decline in mail volume and the resulting excess capacity, maintaining a vast national infrastructure is no longer realistic."

Note that "dramatic decline in mail volume"? How often do you put a stamp on something today? I used to always have a "book of stamps" in my wallet. In the past 24 months, I've purchased two stamps.

Furthermore, the banks are looking at ways to avoid charging fees in the future - in other words, they are evolving..........http://www.netbanker.com/strategies/

[-] 2 points by elf3 (2660) 2 years ago

False Demand and Scarcity and manipulating markets is not a free market Capitalist system - I still send all my bills by mail except the mortgage because they refused to send my statement forcing me to have to call every month to make sure the payment / taxes are the same - ever since I signed up for auto transfer - my statement comes religiously not a problem since. They forced me into it because they are seeking to drive out the postal service so they can jack up those fees. I get charges for statements at my own bank and for not keeping at least $2000.00 in my account at all times but now to switch that mortgage payment / going to a new bank is nearly impossible - my mortgage company probably got a pay-off to keep me in bed with my bank. If I change I will risk the payments not getting made on time and the money not being in the account. For more info on the entire economy being manipulated into false demand and scarcity see this video: http://occupywallst.org/forum/real-estate-4-ransom-global-property-speculation-a/ Banks evolve to screw us and think up better ways not only to get away with it but to do more of it - what planet do you live on ?

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

I want my financial statements on post cards to save paper

[-] 1 points by elf3 (2660) 2 years ago

How about Recycled paper statements?

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

card stock

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 1 year ago

The (R)epelican't congress still refuses to correct this most egregious of wrongs.

A wrong that it created.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/15822-congress-refuses-to-allow-usps-to-fix-its-budget-woes

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[-] -1 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

Well, if the USPS is truly community oriented then why is it charging me 45 cents to pay my electric bill while charging the electric company only 8 cents to mail me its useless marketing propaganda? Does the post office work for us or does it work for the corporations? Why must I subsidize corporate marketing?

[-] 2 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

does this question have something to do with what hightower says?

[-] 0 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

Uhh, no. It actually has to do with 35 years of paying bills by mail; only to find my box flooded everyday with the bulk rate junk mail that I subsidize with the purchase of stamps; 2/3s of all mail in the Northeast is junk mail. And we're tired of subsidizing it for the corporations with ever increasing postal rates.

[-] 1 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

still not sure what it has to do with what he is saying - are you tired of subsidizing roads and schools - oh, and read the article - they don't get taxpayer money. i like the post office - sorry you don't - don't use it. ok, now respond with something stupid - you are good at it

[-] 0 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

I see no reason for the average person to pay more for postage to subsidize the corporations that receive such huge bulk rate discounts; junk mail has overwhelmed the system, and we pay for that also in terms of the growth necessary to accommodate all this junk mail.

[-] 1 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

ok so if you are saying we should not let corporations get discounts - maybe - i don't really have an opinion on how the post office runs it's business

[-] -1 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

I'm not saying eliminate the post office; I'm saying raise the price of corporate mailings and put an end to all of this useless wasteful junk mail which we subsidize.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

to keep the economy moving

[-] -2 points by hitintheheadgirl (-73) 2 years ago

Jim Hightower???? Truth???? Haaaaahaaaahaaahaaaaaa.

Hightower is a leftwing demagogue that doesn't know the truth about anything.

It's called email. Maybe the Post Office can be merged with the Smithsonian, they run museums too.

[-] 2 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

and what is the truth according to you - what should i know is incorrect in the article

[-] -2 points by hitintheheadgirl (-73) 2 years ago

It's an opinion piece by a left-wing hack that, like other left-wing hacks, can't comprehend that someone at the end of the day pays for this stuff.

Now imagine this with healthcare. The Post Office can't even begin to come to terms with something as obvious as email. It's now caught in politics, rather than sense. Rather than deliver mail, relics like Hightower would re-purpose them into perpetual museums of the past dotting the country because the flag is out front and because of what used to be, all at someone else's expense.

Now imagine the impossible task of government adjusting to changing needs in healthcare; it can't even adjust to changing needs for mail.

[-] 3 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

trouble answering the question i see - why are you right wing hacks on this site - oh, i forgot - they pay you - don't you have anything better to do?

[-] -3 points by hitintheheadgirl (-73) 2 years ago

He doesn't use facts. Email, is it really that hard to understand? But now think of it, healthcare, with the same sort of nut-job opposition to even to most obvious needs for change down the road. Hospitals, run because they have a flag out front, but without patients inside them. Clinics in places where some union or powerful lobby group wanted one, but for no other reason.

Bailout? No, bankrupt companies don't tend to go to Washington. But letting the Post Office run up giant unfunded pension promises to its unions, yeah, that one would get hung on the taxpayers. Congress, for once, saw that one coming. The last thing the union wants is reform and change. They'd run half empty trucks to the moon and back is they could. Hightower would support them.

[-] 3 points by flip (6987) 2 years ago

quisling!

[-] -3 points by hitintheheadgirl (-73) 2 years ago

You make my point exactly. Nut-cases that can't even accept something as obvious as the implications of email are the same kind of nut cases that will make having a flexible and responsive government healthcare system completely impossible. It'll be yet another twisted, inefficient, and unresponsive government mess.

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

Yet surprisingly, my mail box is filled almost every day.

[-] -1 points by hitintheheadgirl (-73) 2 years ago

Yes, that is surprising. You should try email like the rest of the country.

Government does a bad job handling change. Even dealing with the most obvious stuff like email and crashing volumes is fought at every turn. The smaller yet still important items aren't even up for discussion. Now, how about that government clinic that no longer has patients? Look for that in the future as government controls more of healthcare.

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

I don't have time. I have to go get the mail.

Email sux anyway, and there are some things that have to come and go as real documents.

I like my mailman. Why do you hate them?

[-] 0 points by hitintheheadgirl (-73) 2 years ago

Just another "hater" that wants things to be efficient and modern. LOL. Good thing guys like Jim Hightower weren't around 125 years ago. If so, we'd still be delivering mail with horses.

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

What is it you perceive me as hating?

It's you who posts hateful comments about the USPS.

[-] 0 points by hitintheheadgirl (-73) 2 years ago

Liberals are just hilarious. Anyone that disagrees is a "hater", a "sexist", or a "racist". You've made them all jokes and yourselves easy to mock.

Yes, pointing out the inefficiency of trudging on utterly unchanged in response to email makes me a "hater". Yes, the comments are hateful. LOL. Liberalism really is a disorder.

"Email: Ever heard of it? We haven't". Maybe that could be a new slogan for the Post Office. Maybe you and Hightower can become penpals. LOL

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

Nonliberals exhibit a habit of not answering questions and making liberal assumptions about liberals.

They also show a propensity for insults.

You are no exception..