Today’s post is not an action. It’s an explanation of how the GOP thought they could openly sabotage our USPS and an election. This is not the beginning of their campaign. This is the next-to-last-step before the GOP and their handlers privatize our postal service, promising a dystopian future for our postal workers and all who depend on them.
If you want to join in some actions, like those that set a fire under DeJoy’s expensively-upholstered behind, and made our famously anti-USPS president
bleat tweet “SAVE THE POST OFFICE” (seriously?) – go here. We have a bunch of them.
We are in an abusive relationship with the GOP.
- The message on their T-shirt is not exaggeration, but a literal plea.
- The GOP has been throttling the USPS since 2006, forcing the American institution we rely on to struggle, forcing it to break its promise to serve every address in the country. The pandemic is just cover for killing it. It did not start the USPS crisis.
- Like the targets of abusers in personal relationships, we are being groomed by the GOP to accept less and less from our postal system as it tries to survive. The pandemic is being used as cover for slower delivery, as DeJoy removes capacity from postal sorting stations and hours from workers. The Department of Veterans Affairs is now sending medications to veterans by UPS and FedEx. Next, we’ll stand by helplessly, as the USPS is forced to reduce the number of weekly delivery days. Post offices closings, already painfully affecting people across the nation, will accelerate. Then, an upbeat announcement about a new corporate partnership will be made from the White House lawn and the USPS as we know it will be gone.
- And like in an abusive relationship, we are being gaslit. DeJoy’s actions are not the opening salvo. The Trump administration has already published two reports detailing how to ready the USPS for sell to private investors. You will not see reference to this in DeJoy’s latest backtrack message. Trump’s long-running anti-USPS campaign is also to be forgotten with his “SAVE THE POST OFFICE” tweet. The GOP will assure us that the new handlers of our mail will have strict guidelines to follow, but since they can’t stick to the spirit of our own laws, this is just more gaslighting.
What are the laws? What is the USPS supposed to do?
As a result of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, we have the following laws:
- 39 U.S. Code § 101: “(a) The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people. The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities. The costs of establishing and maintaining the Postal Service shall not be apportioned to impair the overall value of such service to the people.
- (b)The Postal Service shall provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas, communities, and small towns where post offices are not self-sustaining. No small post office shall be closed solely for operating at a deficit, it being the specific intent of the Congress that effective postal services be insured to residents of both urban and rural communities.
Why are we bothering to mention something from 1970?
- We’re not going back to the very beginning of the USPS, other than to mention, that under Benjamin Franklin’s control, a letter could go from Philadelphia to New York and its answer returned WITHIN 24 HOURS! Oh, and connecting our country was so important that the framers of the Constitution put language requiring a postal service into the text and granted the government the power to create post roads and offices.
- In 1970, some ±200 years later, there was a major “illegal” postal strike, inspired by the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. The Postal Service, which included a disproportionate number of Black employees, was not allowed to engage in collective bargaining. However, workers struck for 8 days for better pay and healthier conditions anyway. Nixon sent out the army and National Guard to deliver letters and declared the strike a national emergency. The stock market was affected and business owners panicked.
- The strike ended with the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, the laws described above, and with full collective bargaining rights for the four existing postal unions, with the exception of the right to strike again. On 1971, the unions merged to form the American Postal Workers Union, the largest such union in the world.
- Why is this important? The union won that battle but they painted a target on their back from implacable enemies, the Koch brothers and their henchmen the Republican party, who quietly attacked the USPS in 2006 with a poisoned arrow of legislation.
What the hell happened in 2006?
(This video is from 2016…)
Billionaire Charles Koch has worked together with the GOP for the last 50 years to destroy and privatize this American institution and they are responsible for the yearly headlines that chronicle job slashing, office closing, longer lines and slower or diminished services. (Other Koch-funded pro-privatization sources to watch out for: ALEC, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Freedom Works, the Heritage Foundation, the Tea Party. ALEC helps to create bills that undermine environmental regulations, deny climate change, support school privatization, undercut health care reform and limit the political influence of unions. They mandate laws to disenfranchise voters and increase incarceration rates to benefit the private-prison industry.)
The crisis started on December 20, 2006, in a lame duck session of Congress, when HR 6407, the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act,” was passed by voice vote. What the Democrats didn’t realize is that they weren’t just voting on updating Postal Service trucks and some housekeeping details. They were also unknowingly voting on a 75-year pre-funding mandate that President Bush required to be added before signing, a mandate swiped from an earlier bill Sen. Susan Collins had proposed in 2005, which was pushed by ALEC, the ultra-conservative organization of the wealthy (including Koch), the corporations and the politicians that promotes right-wing legislation on local, state and federal levels.
“She (Collins) weakened the postal service to the point where people like our president can point to it and say, ‘There’s a crisis here,’ said John Curtis, a retired letter carrier from Surry who is still active in the Maine State Association of Letter Carriers as their director of education. “That bill had a few good things in it, but it had a spoiler with this pre-funding mandate,” “She helped set the stage for the current attacks on the postal service. She weakened the postal service to the point where people like our president can point to it and say, ‘There’s a crisis here,’” Curtis said.
Worst law ever: Today, the postal service has racked up $160.9 billion in debt. Of that, $119.3 billion is the result this requirement to pre-fund retiree benefits. This bill became what Columnist Dan Casey described as “one of the most insane laws Congress ever enacted”, in a July 2014 op-ed in The Roanoke Times. Bill Pascrell, a Democratic House member from New Jersey, said in 2019 that it was rushed through Congress without due consideration, and referred to it as “one of the worst pieces of legislation Congress has passed in a generation“. In 2015, the Inspector General wrote “The Postal Service’s $15 billion debt is a direct result of the mandate. This requirement has deprived the Postal Service of the opportunity to invest in capital projects and research and development.”(This “last-minute addition” methodology is a model for the tax break for the wealthiest Americans that the GOP slipped into the CARES Act…)
In 2011, Tea Party House Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the richest man in Congress at the time, with a net worth of $448 million, head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Koch-donation recipient, proposed H.R. 2748 bill, which would have ended Saturday delivery, replaced door-to-door delivery for 40 million homes with neighborhood cluster boxes and eliminated 100,000 postal jobs. The use of cluster boxes not only inconveniences mail recipients but would de-skill jobs that require stamina and a good memory, allowing the USPS to follow the anti-labor example of the Netherlands in hiring part-time, low-paid workers.
With this manufactured financial crisis, the postal service has had to cut service over the intervening years, including types of deliveries and post office locations, especially in small, isolated towns. This is all in violation of the 1970 law protecting post offices operating at a deficit, and it is causing immense harm to the affected inhabitants. From cnn.com:
- Some 34% of seniors do not use the internet, meaning they must pay their bills by mail and often rely on the Postal Service for correspondence with loved ones.
- More than half of Americans over the age of 65 receive their medications by mail.
- In 2019, no less than 1.2 billion total prescriptions were delivered through the Postal Service.
- Some 630 rural communities have lost its sole pharmacy since 2003, causing rural Americans to turn to mail to deliver medication.
- What is more, retail services increasingly rely on USPS to deliver parcels to inaccessible parts of the country.
- Companies like Amazon rely on the USPS to deliver to customers in rural areas.
- And just as is the case with seniors, the 14.5 million rural Americans without broadband service still need the Postal Service to bank, pay bills and much more.
Thanks, Susan, all your GOP cohorts and dead President Bush!
Where are we right now?
The Postal Service is suffering, just like other businesses during this pandemic. It’s had “a $13 billion revenue loss due directly to COVID-19 this fiscal year and a $54.3 billion additional losses over ten years.” Its employees are on the front lines, providing essential services to the rest of us and now 693 of their 630,000 workers have tested positive for COVID-19, more than 6000 are in self-quarantine and at least 60 have died. But under Postmaster General, Trump toady and walking conflict-of-interest Louis DeJoy, the disintegration has increased exponentially and now threatens the the integrity of a presidential election.
- DeJoy slowed delivery by reducing post office operating hours across several states, and cut overtime for postal workers, letting mail stack up and Americans waiting for medications and other vital deliveries. This continues the fierce attacks from 2008-09, when hundreds of post offices and mail-processing centers were shuttered, many others had their hours cut, some services were reduced, and the postal workforce has lost 126,000 career positions.
- He had mailboxes pulled off our sidewalks and dumped in stacks, along with gaslighting us that their removal was “routine.”
- He removed or
iswas in the process of removing 671 high-speed letter sorters this month that would have sorted ballots, eliminating 21.4 million items per hour worth of processing capability from the agency’s inventory.
- He warned election officials that mail-in ballots will no longer automatically be moved as priority mail, and that they should pay for first class postage.
- After all the changes he made, the USPS sent letters to 46 states warning that there was no guarantee that the postal service could deliver all mail-in ballots in time for the election.
UPDATE: Due to huge public pressure, two impending congressional hearings and impending legislation against his actions (and possibly the people banging on his gates), Louis DeJoy issued a public statement calling a halt to some of his blatant acts of voter suppression. But the damage he intended to inflict – distrust of the USPS’ capabilities and hence the fairness of the election, has already been done.
How does the GOP plan to fix the mess they made?
(This video is from 2016, but it sounds like yesterday.)
Will the GOP and Trump finally treat the Postal Service like a business or any other government agency? After all…
- They’re handing $500 billion to other money-losing businesses, including those who’ve abused stock buybacks, those that pay no taxes, and those that have even killed people, like Boeing.
- They don’t force the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, CDC, FDA, FEMA or other agencies to make a profit.
- They don’t force corporations, even government-backed ones like Boeing or Raytheon, to pre-fund their health-care for 75 years! That’s insane.
- They don’t force other businesses to keep doing unprofitable things, like delivering any letter in the US for a flat rate of 55 cents or stop them from adding services their patrons need. (like banking!)
- They’re handing $170 billion tax cut to millionaires and billionaires on the off-chance it might trickle down to a business, and not to an offshore bank.
The GOP privateers’ dreams are closer to coming true than ever before, having found an ally in a president with a record of running businesses into the ground and who wants to kill the postal service too. Trump hates unions, wants revenge against Jeff Bezos, owner of both the critical Washington Post and Amazon, and has little regard for any organization that doesn’t kick back money to his own pockets. He’s also thinks he’s losing and would happily destroy a nation institution if it would suppress the vote nationwide to help him win. He was willing to veto the entire $2 trillion CARES Act to prevent giving the USPS, the most popular of all public agencies, any financial relief. (Though he wanted to give tax dollars to foreign-owned cruise lines but the Democrats nixed that.) and has publicly stated that it’s too bad we can’t afford a mail-in election.
To solve the mares nest they created, they can pull out their 2018 plans to sell the USPS off to the highest bidders, (possibly important donors!), in pieces if necessary, and removing the money-losing services like door-to-door deliveries in remote areas.
The winning bidders could then break up the largest union in the US, fire workers, lower wages or just uber-ize them, remove benefits and shift that profit into private investors’ hands. Then they’d raid the USPS’ well-funded retirement account of hundreds of billions of dollars. The losers – us, and the 500,000 unionized employees, whose jobs with the 2nd largest employer in the country (Walmart’s #1) help support families and the economy.
This is not imaginary. Their plans are already written down…
The GOP/Koch/ALEC privatization plan is already planned out, and will probably become the basis of an executive order if Trump retakes the White House. In preparation for destroying our most beloved public agency, the White House created two documents.https://www.youtube.com/embed/TIpqhe1NtYk?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent
SELL IT!: The first was a June 2018 OMB report – “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century” which frankly detailed the steps to make the USPS attractive for sale to private investors, fattening it up by raising prices and cutting wages and benefits. However, someone in Trump’s orbit must have remembered that many GOP voters live in rural areas whose postal access has already been hard hit by their own party’s shenanigans. So the approach was softened to this…
GET IT READY FOR SALE: In December of 2018, “United States Postal Service: A Sustainable Path Forward,” a report for a task force headed by Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin, produced the soft-porn version of the OMB’s report, cloaking its recommendations to prepare the USPS for takeover without specifically endorsing privatization, while wasting three pages mooning over foreign privately-owned models. (pages 29-31). No surprises – the report includes eliminating collective bargaining and forbidding a repeat of the last century’s success with banking services, due to the historical power of payday lender lobbyists.
Though the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) supported some of the report’s recommendations – such as maintaining the geographic scope of the Universal Service Obligation (USO), reducing the burden of the prefunding mandate and exploring the addition of new services outside the current USO to help fund the agency, they felt overall it had “fundamentally misdiagnoses the operational and financial condition of the Postal Service, and as a result offered recommendations that would seriously weaken if not destroy USPS, a national treasure and vital part of our nation’s economic infrastructure.”
The NALC state that the report “would dramatically raise mailing costs for “commercial mailers” and shippers, slash the frequency and quality of delivery, and gut the standard of living of postal employees by outsourcing their jobs, stripping them of collective bargaining rights and reducing their retirement and workers’ compensation benefits. These recommendations would weaken, not strengthen the Postal Service – and threaten the most efficient and affordable universal postal system in the world.” So, not good. The entire analysis by the NALC is here.
The United States has privatized what should be public resources before. As usual, it hurts rural communities and the poor and middle classes, while enriching the original investors.https://www.youtube.com/embed/lwKWsQlk3JQ?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent
Privatizing the Postal Service would turn the law requiring postal service to all, no matter how unprofitable, on its head. How the postal service SHOULD be run by a properly functioning oligarchy is described by economist Rick Geddes in his mean-spirited privatization manifesto.
- Pay your own way!: First, basic economics implies that rural customers are unlikely to be without service under competition; they would simply have to pay the true cost of delivery to them, which may or may not be lower than under monopoly. (The 328 million Americans who rely on the mail foressential services, including prescription drugs will be very interested to hear this. – Private services like FedEx, add a “Delivery Area Surcharge” to harder-to-reach zip codes.)
- You chose to live where there is now no post office!: Second, basic notions of fairness imply that the cross-subsidy should be eliminated. To the extent that people make choices about where they live, they should assume the costs of that decision. (It delivers about 1 million lifesaving medications each year and serves as the only delivery link to Americans living in rural areas.)
- Cutthroat competition is always better!: Third, there is no reason why the government monopoly is necessary to ensure service to sparsely populated areas. The government could easily award competitive contracts to private firms for that service. (Private firms with no unions!)
- Buy computers, you losers!: Fourth, early concerns that rural residents of the United States would somehow become isolated without federally subsidized mail delivery today are simply unfounded. … Once both sender and receiver have access to a computer, the marginal cost of sending an electronic message is close to zero. (This is untrue for 42 million Americans without access to broadband access due to location. It is unknown how many simply can’t afford it. Also, it’s still very hard to send objects by email.)
What else could be be lost with privatization…
- Your privacy: The GOP, and their law enforcement associates, including ICE, may also want easier access to your private communications.
- “The US mail comes equipped with legal protection.“Law enforcement can’t open your mail without a judge’s say-so, and any private individual who tries could face a long sojourn as an involuntary guest of the feds.”
- “Laws governing the sanctity of your email are in their infancy. Actually, that’s a gross overstatement: They’re positively fetal. Government agencies may not need any warrant at all to read some of your emails. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and anyone else whose system carries your email can read your messages at whim, with no consequences.” (LA Times)
- Assistance with elections and the Census: On the other hand, the GOP wants nothing to do with two functions the USPS’ “Universal Service Obligation” facilitates – the constitutional requirement of the Census and fair and accessible vote-by-mail elections. Well, unless you’re Trump and you need them to deliver an ad on a ballot application.
Privatizing, just like dear old Europe. What are our rich white guys trying to get us to do?
Both White House’s reports referenced the privatization of post offices in foreign countries. One states – “Like many European nations, the United States could privatize its postal operator.” Mnuchin singles out two countries for their privatization efforts – Germany and New Zealand.
Our first thought was “What!?! Our government wants to do something the Europeans do? How about focusing on something else they do, like nationalizing health care, or seriously dealing with COVID?”
Our next thought was – How is that privatizing working out for them? What Mnuchin didn’t reveal is that European nations charge substantially more for mail services delivered in a much smaller area, and they regularly raise the price of delivery. One example is that the price of sending a letter in the United Kingdom has increased 80 percent over the last decade.
So…asking for a friend…how bad would it be to be privatized? All these rich white guys are vouching for it…
Read this apocryphal tale of postal privatization from the Netherlands, The privatized Dutch post office, PostNL, fired older letter carriers and replaced them with workers paid per item or part time, many earning less than minimum wage. Barely-paid private postal workers sort mail on any flat surface in their homes, where letters and packages can be viewed or even opened by anyone, instead of in a dedicated, safe place like a US sorting facility.
Since our corporations expect to be completely deregulatized by Trump and the GOP, we should expect that our postal service would eventually degrade to the “gig-economy” model used by the Netherlands as well. This is an exploitative employment model that strips away a century of workers’ rights and protections.
UK Royal Mail – MISTAKE!!! “…one giant-sized con from beginning to end“
This video is from 2017. The fight to re-nationalize their system continues to the present day.
In 2013, the Royal Mail, a 500-year old system, was privatized. “Part of the justification for this was that people’s habits were changing.” While there was a 40% drop in mail, the privatizers failed to mention the increase in packages. “…This has been by far the greatest shift in the industry since the onset of the digital revolution: the sheer number of packets we carry, a much more profitable enterprise. I can’t believe the government hadn’t predicted this when they decided to sell off the Royal Mail, or that experts in the industry weren’t already aware of it. In other words, it’s been one giant-sized con from beginning to end.” (The anti-private mail folks included this nice list of why privatizing is bad for non-millionaires.)
So what do other Europeans think? Nothing good, and some bad.
Europe reports: Accoring to Global Research: “After fifteen years of market-opening, the balance sheet of post “liberalization” is overwhelmingly negative…In sum, post liberalization has not improved services and reduced prices as promised by the European Commission and others. Instead, liberalization has produced a few winners and many losers.(Note: “Economic liberalization refers to the reduction or elimination of government regulations or restrictions on private business and trade. It is usually promoted by advocates of free markets and free trade… Economic liberalization also often involves reductions of taxes, social security, and unemployment benefits. (It) is often associated with privatization, which is the process of transferring ownership or outsourcing of a business, enterprise, agency, public service or public property from the public sector to the private sector.”)
The winners are private shareholders of former public monopolies, post managers and large customers.
The losers include private households, especially those in rural areas, and postal sector workers who have experienced liberalization as massive deterioration of employment and working conditions…The European postal service privatization process has been, however, very successful in reducing labour costs and in turning what used to be a reservoir of stable and decent jobs, especially for low-skilled workers, into an area of precarious and low-waged work.”
- With few exceptions, the new competitors emerging from privatization never opened post offices or installed letter boxes. Instead they pick-up mail directly at the premises of their mostly large corporate customers.
- Mail delivery has typically been reduced to only two or three days a week and only in highly populated areas.
- Prices have decreased for large customers such as banks, telephone companies and online retailers because they can negotiate individual price rebates.
- Standard mail costs have increased in a number of countries.
- Corporate issues like bankruptcy still occur – i.e. 2008 insolvency of the main competitor in Germany and the recent takeover of a major competitor in the Netherlands.
- Privatization is responsible for cuts between 20-50% in employment numbers, an increase in atypical and precarious forms of employment, a reduction in wages, as well as an intensification of work and a fragmentation of industrial relations. Here’s a employment horror story from the “Dutch Model.”
- Contrary to the European Commission’s prediction, these job cuts were not offset by the resulting growth in employment among new market entrants and most new jobs created were part-time.
- In Germany, less than 20% of the workforce at the new competitors is employed on full-time contracts. Almost 25% work normal part-time, whereas a majority of almost 60 % work very short part-time, or what in Germany is called ‘mini jobs’ (jobs that pay less than €400 per month).
- Wages have been substantially reduced, often below minimum standards.
- In a German study, piece rates of between 70 and 90 cents per delivered item amount to an average hourly wage of €5.
- Self-employed deliverers in the parcel and express services partly compensate for low hourly wages by putting in extremely long working hours.
So what’s all this about New Zealand? Diminished expectations.
Per Mnuchin’s task force report – “For example, in New Zealand, which has a fully privatized postal system, the operator has a “Deed of Understanding” with the government, ensuring the provision of the USO (Universal Service Obligation).”
The 1989 Deed required New Zealand Post to provide 6-day a week service, along with other requirements:
- provide six days a week delivery to more than 90% of delivery points and five day a week delivery to more than 99% of delivery points
- not increase the proportion of counter delivery services or community mail boxes beyond 0.85% of all delivery points;
- maintain at least 1,202,073 delivery points;
- maintain a uniform basic letter price at 40c, with certain changes allowed in line with changes in the Consumer Price Index; and
- maintain a network of at least 880 official‘ (i.e. staffed by New Zealand Post personnel) and agency‘ (i.e. not owned and operated by New Zealand Post) post offices and postal delivery centres, including at least 330 official post offices.
However, the NZPost’s core business was “cherry picked” by private mail companies not obliged under the Postal Services Act to provide a nationwide mail service. Therefore, the NZPost is required to carry DX Mail’s ‘reject’ unprofitable mail, and the country’s taxpayers are subsidising a private mail company which is privatising the core business of a state owned enterprise. “NZPost employees may be the only workers in New Zealand compelled by law to actively assist a competitor in putting themselves out of a job.”
In 2013, NZPost renegotiated it’s mandate and in 2015, mail delivery was reduced – each street address in major towns and cities would receive standard mail delivery either on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The new contract:
- provide a minimum basic postal service for delivery of letters which includes not less than three day per week delivery to 99.88 % of delivery points within New Zealand Post‘s network;
- include within its network a minimum of 1,910,010 delivery points (being the number of delivery points in the network as at 30 June 2012);
- not reduce the frequency of delivery under the basic postal service to those areas where New Zealand Post offered a three or two day delivery service as at 30 June 2012;
- increase the number of delivery points within its network if and to the extent there is demand for it to do so, but this undertaking will be subject to New Zealand Post‘s reasonable opinion about what is commerciallysustainable and operationally practicable; and
- maintain a network throughout the country where consumers can purchase postal services. The network will contain no fewer than 880 service points in total, including no fewer than 240 where consumers can, in addition to purchasing postal services, use such bill payment services as New Zealand Post may provide from time to time. The network may be made up of a combination of outlets owned by New Zealand Post, services hosted in other businesses and electronic self-service kiosks
Job losses included 1500 to 2000 frontline and back-office jobs.
(Propublica.org has published this great list of the latest USPS/Election/Election Security news from across the country.)
The war to destroy our post office is in temporary stasis right now, with the GOP and their stooges worried about making obviously revealing moves towards their ultimate goal right before an election. Though they backed off their plans in 2018, their roadmap is still exists and the pandemic is tempting them to play games with USPS funding. We need remain hyper-vigilent
In February, Nancy Pelosi stated that the administration’s ultimate goal is privatization, and warned that such a switch would ultimately undermine the agency’s ability to deliver services equitably.”This is really dangerous. Mnuchin at Treasury is trying to leverage the debt situation in a way that must be stopped, and the only way it will be stopped is if the American people understand what a loss it is for them,” she said.”For them to be toying with this notion that … they’re going to privatize the postal system,” she added, “is something that the public should be aware of — and should reject.”
The USPS can’t save itself without our help
Repeating this here. Join in some actions – here. We have a bunch of them.
Tell your legislator to add banking back to the post office again:
This is a good history of our postal service.
From 1911 to 1967, (prime MAGA fantasy-time!) , the US Post Office acted as a bank, accepting deposits and paying interest for small accounts. Today’s post office already offers simple financial services like money orders and international money transfers.
“Literally the only person who is going to be against this is somebody who wants to protect payday lender profits.” – Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)https://www.youtube.com/embed/O676j4NhU-U?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent
- Re-up this legislation: In 2018, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation that would have required every U.S. post office to provide basic banking services. This bill, if passed, would have improved the lives of more than one-quarter of Americans households (34 million homes, 80 million people), who are either “unbanked” ― meaning they lack someone with a bank account altogether ― or “underbanked” ― relying on payday loans or other so-called alternative lenders to supplement the services of a traditional bank.
- Racism is part of this: Because of racial wealth and income gaps of black and Latino households, they are more likely to be both unbanked and underbanked. The unbanked rate among black households is 18.2 percent, compared with 7 percent for the population as a whole.
- Physical access to bank branches remains important but banks are fleeing low-income areas. Nationally, banks have shut 1,915 more branches in lower-income neighborhoods than they’ve opened in the four years through 2018, according to S&P Global Inc. However, the postal system’s 30,000 locations touch every community. A majority ― 59 percent ― are in “banking deserts”, or zip codes that have either no bank branches or just one. Yes, there is online banking, but according to a 2017 government study, “…some groups with higher unbanked and underbanked rates, including lower-income households, less-educated households, older households, and households in rural areas, continue to disproportionately use bank tellers as their primary—and often only—method for accessing their accounts.“
- It’s expensive to be poor – A payday loan of $375 typically costs a borrower an additional $520 in interest and triple-digit fees, according to Pew Charitable Trusts. The average underbanked household has an annual income of $25,500, and spends nearly 10 percent on alternative financial products and associated fees, according to a 2011 KPMG study. “There is a huge racial justice issue,” Gillibrand said. “The average person who gets a payday loan is a 44-year-old African American single mom. It overwhelmingly affects communities of color.”
Tell your legislator we need to do more.:
The USPS has a that network of 32,000 retail outlets (many of them historic and even works of art) that form the most extensive local presence of any business or government in America, drawing more than seven million people into them each day.
An experienced, smart, skilled, and dedicated workforce of nearly 600,000 middle-class Americans who live in the communities they serve and are brimming with ideas and energy to move the Postal Service forward — if only those at the top would listen and turn them loose
The general goodwill of the public, which sees the local post office and its employees as “theirs,” providing useful services and standing as one of their core civic institutions (in a 2009 Gallup Poll, 95 percent of Americans said it was personally important to them that the Postal Service be continued).
Go digital!: John Nichols reported in The Nation that USPS already has the world’s third-largest computer infrastructure, including 5,000 remote locations with satellite Internet service. Rather than bemoan the loss of postal business to the Internet, become an Internet hot spot in town after town for universal email, digital scanning, and forwarding of documents, etc.
- Expand that into a handy consumer service offering high-speed broadband all across the country.
- In Sweden, the Post Office will physically deliver e- mail correspondence to people who are not online.
- In Switzerland, registered users can have their physical mail received, scanned, and delivered into their email boxes
- In Germany, Duetsche Post will allow customers to communicate through secure servers
Expand the store: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wants to let post offices sell products and services that they’re now barred from offering (thanks to corporate opposition and Congressional meddling). They can become broadband servers which would help students without access continue their schooling. Sanders suggests allowing sales of cellphones, delivery of wine, selling fishing licenses, notarizing documents, etc. This would be a boon to the people in poor neighborhoods and rural areas who don’t have convenient access to such services.
Expand, not shrink access: Instead of reducing service, be the only entity that offers reliable delivery service to every community in the country, seven days a week.
Sen. Bernie Sander’s Postal Service Protection Act proposed creating a blue ribbon commission composed of entrepreneurs, representatives of labor and small businesses to provide recommendations on how the postal service can generate new revenue to succeed in the 21st century.
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