Okay, I've been with USPS for several years now, so here's my big dumb #SaveThePostOffice thread. I don't know how many tweets it's gonna take for me to ramble through my thoughts, so stick with me. Or don't, whatever.
First things first: we're not taxpayer funded. At all. Sure, we get government monopolies on certain things of value (and things like cheap loan terms), but the budget isn't by the taxpayer. It's by the services provided. If you buy stamps, you fund us. If you don't, you don't.
Second: our financial issues, while not ENTIRELY from the 2006 PAEA bill that required 70 years of retiree prefunds, are mostly artificial. They would not exist if not for a congressional lame duck bill passed mostly by a certain political party on their way out the power door
Third: We're in the constitution. Literally. You know that thing you occasionally pretend to love when it serves your interests? It's explicitly in there. We're legally required to exist.
Fourth: Certain nameless people want us privatized because we're worth a lot of $. Even without the physical materials (truck fleet, offices, computer networks, etc), we have billions in proprietary data (route sequences, mailing lists, logistics, etc) that businesses would love
Fifth: You can be certain, if given the chance, certain politicians would love to GIVE AWAY this infrastructure, a la the $70 billion in digital broadcast licenses they gave away for free to Telecom companies in 1996 with no strings attached.
So, why should you not want this? Well, for starters, if you're not in a major city, you've been subsidized by one via the post office for decades. It's a lot cheaper to mail and deliver in dense population centers. But we charge the same in rural Delaware, too.
Why? Because the idea is everyone in America, no matter where they are, should have the same, guaranteed access to a valuable line of communication. A birthday card from across country is as valuable as a wedding invite from one town over.
Now, no one likes their junk mail, but you know what? Carrying 4 Geico ads and a Subway coupon in my satchel with your card is the reason the latter only cost $0.50 to cross the country. And if you'd like to name a cheaper way to ship a book or a record, I'd like to hear it.
But the one thing I pride myself on the most in terms of service is something you can guarantee won't happen in privatized, for-profit model. UPS, FedEx, Amazon, DHL, etc ALL dump pacakages on our docks every single day. Ones they say aren't profitable. We take them the last mile
Why? Because Every. Single. Address. In. America. deserves service. Even places accessible by only boat and plane. They'll be cut off in a second in a private market. Heck, it's only because of our last mile service that you don't realize the private sector already cut you out.
I work in a position called a "T6," or a "Carrier Technician." Put simply: USPS delivers 6 days a week, and employees work 5 days. For every 5 routes in an office, there's a T6 to carry the 6th day on each of those 5 routes who have a regular the other 5 days. Full-time position
In my case, that's 5 routes, averaging 700 addresses each, totaling 3,500 addresses, and approx 10K names and faces. Names and faces that I recognize, communicate with regularly, and can identify the forwarding information for, without even consulting a reference sheet.
I know which senior residents would like their mail delivered to the door, even if they have a curbside box. I know who needs their packages (often for home business) tucked into a corner behind the garage. Who is going to need an extra minute to get to the door to sign.
I know whose lawns to not cut across, whose dogs want to bite, and whose want to play. I know whose day will be made brighter with a short convo, and who wants me to go away. I know who is bad at checking the mail, and who to call for a wellness check on if it starts to pile up
For millions across the country, we're the only face they often see all day, even before social distancing. Their connection to the world around them, even if it's just for a comment on the weather, or to be a two minute ear for a rant about "kids these days."
I'm not naive though. I know not every carrier lives up to the same standard the men and women of my office largely hold themselves to. I know many of our (admittedly fake financial) troubles have reduced quality of service. But the effort and integrity is there for so many of us
And the reason to bring this all up is to say that it's all in jeopardy in a private market. There's no profit to be had in uniform pricing or remote delivery locations. There's no profit in being your community's friendly face.
There's no profit in me receiving dozens of incorrectly addressed pieces of mail every day, and spending the few extra minutes figuring out where on the route it's actually supposed to go (you may not notice this, but it happens every day, and we fix it from memory).
These little details cost time and money. Things the private sector wants to cut, and that we've only been forced to do likewise with as political interests deliberately undermine our finances, waiting for a chance like this pandemic to auction us off.
If you want USPS to continue to provide a service that gives us the highest approval rating of every government agency, call you congressperson. Nag 'em for a bit on my behalf. Ask them for the same bailout for a community service that they give freely to banks and airlines.
Thanks for listening. I'll see you on the streets, from 6 feet away. And keep your dog on a leash, please.
Addendum: I've decided to add a few thoughts for an even broader perspective. In addition to employing more than half a million people, USPS is one of the largest employers of both vets and people of color in the US. It has put, and kept, millions in the middle class for years
Not only does USPS tie communities together, but the organization has helped lift many of them up. Rather than talking about letting us die, you should be asking how to help strengthen us.
Postal banking, which would allow people in every community in the country to have easy access to cheap local banking, is not just a potential revenue stream, but a way to provide an essential service to the people most lacking them. And it doesn't have to cost taxpayers a dime
The biggest handicaps we face on a daily basis: unreliable vehicles, overworked and undertrained staff, extreme turnover amongst non-career employees: it's all artificial and can be improved by giving us the financial flexibility that was deliberately robbed from us.
We have the resolve as a nation, and the popular demand to fix USPS and permanently strengthen them. All you need to do is help advocate for it. Because none of us, especially those receiving stimulus checks by mail, want to see how bad things get after we are allowed to collapse
You can follow @DingusJMcGee.
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