The U.S. Postmaster released a memo in July which raised serious questions about the United States Postal Service (USPS) ability to properly handle the influx of mail during the 2020 election. The memo eventually set off a firestorm, with many progressive liberals expressing their undying support for the USPS, despite the organization’s obvious failings.
If you have an important package to send, what do you use? USPS, UPS or FedEx? In a recent survey, most Americans, regardless of political party, choose UPS as their preferred method of transportation to send packages of significance, not USPS. For example, a USPS delivery between two addresses in North Carolina somehow made a brief stop in Hawaii (true story).
While everyone agrees that a postal service should exist in some form or another, there is no doubt that the rapid increase in electronic communication has lessened the nation’s need to rely on the USPS.
The coronavirus pandemic has not helped the situation, with the first class mail down, the main revenue generator for USPS, but package services, a more costly enterprise, rising sharply due to the general increase in online ordering has put an immense strain on the system. One report has e-commerce shipments up by 47%.
In response to this evolving crisis, the U.S. Postmaster Louis DeJoy announced major changes in a memo, including delayed deliveries and no longer authorizing late trips, which are done to ensure that all of the mail gets out that day and provides workers with overtime. Those changes have now been delayed due to the backlash over the plan.
The Postal Service even acknowledges its failings, with a recent August 2020 report stating that despite borrowing $10 billion under the CARES Act, “it does not address the Postal Service’s broken business model. It merely postpones the impending liquidity crisis and the borrowings must be repaid in a period where cash shortages are forecasted.” For this quarter, the USPS reports a net loss of $2.2 billion, which is about the same as it was last year.
This is not a surprise, as the USPS has been operating at a loss for the last 11 years, to the tune of $69 billion. It also has seen a 30% decrease in volume.
Though the USPS kept Americans connected for more than 200 years, with Benjamin Franklin serving as the first Postmaster General, the business model is broken and would require radical adjustments in order to make the program solvent.
For many liberal politicians, this reality has become a rallying cry to “save” the USPS.
New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) recently suggested a progressive pen pal program, which would encourage young voters to buy stamps.
At a news conference, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez again shared her passion for the postal service. She said, “The postal service is not only how we get our ballot, it’s how we get our medicine, how we send rent checks, it’s where people are getting their tax refunds. It is a core service of any civilized society. And an attack on our postal service, an attempt to dismantle our postal service out of a selfish desire to savage our democracy and maintain a grip on power is an attack on all of us.”
It’s Senator Bernie Sanders who is, perhaps, the most vocal supporter of not only keeping the USPS, but radically expanding its services into the financial sector, like providing banking and small loans, gift wrapping and delivering alcohol through the USPS, which currently is not allowed.
Some of this support for the USPS may be due to Senator Sanders and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s support for unions and union workers. According to USPS, the department has “collective bargaining agreements with seven different unions representing nearly 500,000 employees.” As one of his presidential campaign promises, Senator Sanders stated his desire to “double union membership within (his) first term.”
President Donald Trump has suggested in the past that the USPS be privatized, which may or may not help the situation.
The problem remains that physical mail, also called snail mail, has become mostly a thing of the past. Besides packages, most Americans prefer a paper-free existence as much as possible. If changes aren’t made, the USPS will likely become obsolete in the next couple of decades, except for packages.
Photo from Samantha Gatesman / Shutterstock.com
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