I have written about the Post office and its illustrious history before, but now the danger to its existence is imminent with the President calling the institution a “joke.” It is hardly a joke to serve an entire nation in both urban and rural areas, having moved beyond delivery by horses to trains, jet planes, boats and even snowmobiles. What private company would bother with the populations beyond the densely populated areas? No money in that!
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wrote an excellent Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, published April 27, 2020. She extols the virtues of the post office and emphasizes its importance in the voting process. She also offers a solution to the ongoing money problems.
Senator Gillibrand suggests these solutions:
Allow the Post Office to reinstate its basic banking service. She says that an estimated 10 million people lack banking services in this country and must use the exorbitant “payday” system to cash checks or send money. She notes “it is expensive to be poor in America.” You might ask why not open an account at the local bank? I stood in line behind a young man with brown skin at our local bank where I was making a Leschi CC deposit. When the line grows long, one of the “higher” level persons comes to ask what service each person is seeking and direct them accordingly. When he asked about opening an account, he was told that they didn’t open accounts on this day at this time; she told him when an account might be opened, a time that probably interfered with his working hours. He left looking discouraged. Restrictions like these tend to discourage folks who do not have the luxury to come to the bank at the bank’s convenience. But it is to the bank’s advantage not to have accounts that don’t generate excess funds that can be used by the bank.
Step 2. Eliminate the 2006 law requiring that the Post Office prefund their pension and health care benefits 75 years in advance. The Post Office now has a fund that pays for these benefits for persons who have yet to be born. What other agency or business is required to do this? Gillibrand says, “Even the President’s own postal task force determined that if the service were allowed to use the same pay-as-you-go policy as every other agency, it would have been operationally profitable before the pandemic.”
Gillibrand then emphasizes the importance of the Post Office in our voting system. As someone who used to work the polls, I was initially sorry to see the change to vote by mail. There was excitement and neighborhood camaraderie at the polls which I would miss, but I have to say it has eliminated many problems. I came to appreciate the new system when I remembered the man who came running into the polling place at 8:02 PM, after I had announced that the polls were closed. Hopefully, this man and others can now find a drop box for their mailed ballot. Voting by mail helps the elderly, the differently abled, mothers with young pre-school age children, those who have to work that day and it helps all of us in the midst of a pandemic. We won’t always have a pandemic, but we here in the Northwest are subject to earthquakes and thinking of a recent anniversary, volcanoes. Voting by mail ensures that we all have the opportunity to vote and hopefully, we exercise that opportunity!
The Post Office employs 600,000 persons and has an enviable record of hiring from diverse populations. My own postal carrier is reliable and gets upset when his substitute does something foolish like not delivering the business mail until it was so late the businesses were closed! We are his customers and he wants to take good care of us! Let’s save his job and the other 600,000!