Will the United States Post Office Become a Victim of #COVID19?

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

“To establish Post Offices and post Roads” — United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8

Fortunately, we didn’t bail out the cruise industry. But we’re not bailing out the United States Post Office, either. From Fortune, “USPS warns it might have to shutter by June as $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package provides no funding“:

Today, the Postal Service is just as essential: It delivers about 1 million lifesaving medications each year and serves as the only delivery link to Americans living in rural areas. Working with other delivery services like UPS, the agency supports $1.7 trillion in sales and 7.3 million private sector workers year, and this year will prove essential to delivering the 2020 Census to citizens as well as any vote-by-mail initiatives. The USPS is the federal government’s most favorably viewed agency, with an approval rating of 90%.

Yet once again, the USPS is in crisis mode.

With a negative net worth of $65 billion and an additional $140 billion in unfunded liabilities, the USPS originally expected to run out of liquidity by 2021 without intervention. That has accelerated rapidly because of COVID-19. Fewer people and businesses are sending mail because of the outbreak, which could hasten the decline of the Postal Service and close its doors as early as June, officials warned.

Readers will recall the neoliberal playbook: “[1] Defund [or sabotage], [2] claim crisis, [3] call for privatization… [4] profit!” (rinse, repeat as necessary. We can see this happen with the VA here, and with the NHS in the UK. Fortunately for those who believe that the maiil is a public good, we in the United States, even in the current crisis, seem hung up between stage [3], “call for privatization,” and [4], “profit!” (And by invoking Betteridge’s Law with the headline, perhaps I have done my own little bit to keep things hung up.)

In this post, I’ll look at the initial act of sabotage (“The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act”), then at the prospects for privatization, and finally at the politics of a Post Office bailout in the midst of the corona virus crisis (which nobody wants to waste). Much of this material will be a refresher for long-time Naked Capitalism readers, since most of our posts on this to published in 2015, and newer readers may find it useful as well.

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act was a villainous piece of jobbery passed passed by a lame-duck Congress during the Bush administration. NC explained how the sabotage worked:

That year, the Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA). Under the terms of PAEA, the USPS was forced to “prefund its future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years in an astonishing ten-year time span” – meaning that it had to put aside billions of dollars to pay for the health benefits of employees it hasn’t even hired yet, something that “no other government or private corporation is required to do.”The problem with the Post‘s argument starts in its thesis: that the post office is in some sort of deep fiscal hole of its own making – a result of being left behind in the Internet Age and a shrinking consumer base. The truth is that almost all of the postal service’s losses can be traced back to a single change in the law made by the Republican Congress in 2006.

As consumer advocate Ralph Nader noted in 2011, if “the prepayments required under PAEA were never enacted into law, the USPS would not have a net deficiency of nearly $20 billion, but instead be in the black by at least $1.5 billion.”

Remarkably, even one of the main sponsors of the 2006 legislation now agrees the pre-funding requirement was a bad idea. In 2014, a writer for the Roanoke Times reached out to former congressman Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican who today works for the accounting and consulting giant Deloitte. Though Davis agreed that the requirement was unwise, he said it was “the cost of getting the bill through,” noting that the Bush administration wanted to use the revenue to help balance the budget (note that the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t actually use taxpayer dollars but does have implicit subsidies such as borrowing at a lower rate).

The key point to notice in today’s discourse, however, is that an oft-repeated liberal Democrat talking point blames the Act solely on Republicans (“How George Bush broke the Post Office“). It will, therefore, not surprise you to learn that the Act, which originated in the House, had a Democrat sponsor (the powerful Henry Waxman), and passed the House — just like the bailout, and no doubt a similar reason — on a voice vote. (I can’t find the Senate vote.) A similar bill the previous year, which failed, passed the House 410-20. Step one of the neoliberal playbook was implemented in a thoroughly bipartisan fashion. To be fair, this year the House passed a measure to repeal the health care pre-funding measure, but let’s remember the history when it comes time for the sausage to be made in the negotiations between the House, the Senate, and the Administration. (Mark Meadows, Trump’s new chief-of-staff, is a Post Office privatizer.)

Continued Efforts at Post Office Privatization

The continuing Post Office privatization effort is documented in a report from Trump’s “Task Force on the United States Postal System, whose machinations are detailed at Naked Capitalism here:

There are two key documents. The first is the administration’s plan to reorganize the Federal Government: “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations” (for clarity, I’ve edited out the talking points from the neoliberal playbook; primarily the pension obligations scam). From the Recommendations:

USPS has extremely high fixed costs as a result of relatively generous employee benefits combined with a universal service obligation that is understood to require mail carriers to visit over 150 million addresses six days per week…. A new model that adequately finances USPS while meeting the needs of rural and urban communities, large mailers, and small businesses is needed… This proposal would restructure USPS by aligning revenues and expenses to restore a sustainable business model and possibly prepare it for future conversion from a Government agency into a privately-held corporation…. USPS privatization through an initial public offering (IPO) or sale to another entity would require the implementation of significant reforms prior to sale to show a possible path to profitability… To address these major issues and identify solutions, possibly including private ownership, the President has issued Executive Order 13829: Task Force on the United States Postal System. The Task Force will conduct a thorough evaluation of the operations and finances of the Postal Service and make recommendations for reform consistent with this reorganization proposal.

In short form, the Post Office is to be fattened up for sale, but is not yet fat enough. The second key document is the Task Force report, “United States Postal Service: A Sustainable Path Forward“, to which alert reader cnchal directs us. Here are two paragraphs that should give you the flavor. From page 6:

The USPS should explore new business opportunities that will allow it to extract value from its existing assets and business lines. For example, the USPS should explore licensing access to the mailbox and providing additional government services, such as licenses for hunting and fishing. The USPS could also capture additional value from its existing retail offices by

converting post offices into contract post offices or by co-locating with or renting space to complementary retail establishments. However, given the USPS’s narrow expertise and capital limitations, USPS should not pursue expanding into new sectors, such as postal banking, where the USPS does not have a demonstrated competency or comparative advantage, or where balance sheet risk would be added.

This is very amusing. The USPS should license access to the mailbox (i.e., franchises), compete with WeWork (lol), or go into the real estate business (like DiFi’s husband). But on no account should the Post Office go into banking, even though it processes enormous amounts of cash, including money orders, and has all the bricks and mortar anyone could want for gen-u-wine, old-fashioned branches! What’s the matter, can’t hire any banking executives who aren’t crooks to roll out the operation? And then on page 10:

The [Universal Service Obligation (USO)] is a public policy that defines what citizens and businesses need from a government provided postal service, representing a mission statement for a country’s postal system. The generally accepted attributes for defining the USO include specifying the geographic coverage for postal delivery, frequency of delivery, processing standards, mode of delivery, range of required postal products, level of access to post offices, and rules for affordable postal rates. In the United States, the USO is not clearly defined. For the USPS’s business model to achieve sustainability, the USO must be defined with greater specificity. The Task Force believes that the USO must distinguish between the types of mail and packages for which a United States Postal Service: A Sustainable Path Forward 5 strong social or macroeconomic rationale exists for government protection in the form of price caps and mandated delivery standards (“essential services”), versus those types of mail and packages that are commercial in nature, and therefore would not have a basis for government protection. This definition will provide the USPS and the PRC with a framework to sustainably manage pricing, costs, and products.

The USO is so simply defined: It means that the Post Office delivers to any address in the country. This is amusing, too, since undermining the USO would destroy the Post Office’s distinctive competence, both as an enterprise and politically (you can bet rural areas would lose out, which is one reason this might never fly).

I think the bottom line for the purpose of bailout sausage-making is that immediate privatization will not become a subject of negotiation in the bailouts; the animal to be sold is not fattened up enough.

The Politics of a Post Office Bailout

Now to the politics of the Post Office in the bailouts. We’ll have to do a little disentangling. Common Dreams, “With Postal Service on ‘Verge of Collapse’ and 630,000 Jobs at Risk, Trump Slammed for Refusing to Act“:

President Donald Trump has thus far rejected the Postal Service’s requests. During a press briefing earlier this week, Trump urged USPS to simply “raise the prices by, actually a lot.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), one of the most vocal critics of the Trump administration’s refusal to assist USPS, said in a statement Thursday that “we cannot allow the Postal Service to collapse.”

According to new reporting from the Washington Post on Saturday, Connolly’s accusation was correct. “Trump threatened to veto the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act if the legislation contained any money directed to bail out the postal agency, according to a senior Trump administration official and congressional official,” the Post reported.

What Common Dreams leaves out is who, exactly, would bear the “increased prices.” Matt Yglesias, “The debate over a post office bailout“, explains:

But the Trump administration also appears to be specifically hostile to the idea of a Postal Service bailout. Its distaste for a postal bailout merges ideological conservatives’ generic preference for postal privatization with the president’s specific hangup about the idea that USPS is giving Amazon a sweetheart deal on shipping.

Most coverage of this controversy just skips over raising prices on Amazon, but to his credit, Yglesias goes into it.

New York Magazine’s Josh Barro has dug into the substance of the parcel pricing controversy and finds that Trump’s contention that the Postal Service could improve its financial situation by doubling what it charges Amazon is false. The key issue is that because of USPS’ universal service obligations, it can’t drastically reduce its real estate footprint or the number of trucks it sends driving around the country. The reason it gives Amazon good rates is that the facilities it’s using would otherwise be half-empty.

That’s an odd theory of pricing. Does Yglesias seriously believe that pricing is cost-driven, as opposed to using market power to stick it to a customer whenever possible? More:

Raising prices without making any other operational changes could lead to Amazon looking elsewhere for delivery services, which would leave the post office in even more desperate financial circumstances.

Really? “Elsewhere” where? The Post Office’s Universal Service Obligation, combined with its monpoly, makes it the only entity suitable for last-mile delivery, to any address. Perhaps there’s another reason for the reluctance to touch Amazon, and in fact Barro gives one:

But if Trump succeeds, he’ll be hitting consumers in the process. According to eMarketer, about half of U.S. households have at least one member with an Amazon Prime membership, spending an average of $1,400 a year on products from the company. Adding about $1.50 to the delivery cost for each Amazon package would have a material affect on the Prime membership fee (currently $119 a year), product prices, or both.

So? Here is how Prime membership maps to income:

One might almost suspect that Amazon is untouchable in this debate because Amazon Prime memberships correlate directly to income. And if some lower income people drop Prime and go to Walmart, or better yet, whichever local retailer Walmart and Amazon between them haven’t strangled, is that so bad, really?

In short, regardless of how Trump came to his views — and is hating Jeff Bezos so bad, really? — I don’t see a prima facie reason why sticking it to Amazon isn’t being fed into the sausage-making grinder. [1] And I doubt very much that rural Republicans will want to see the Post Office disappear from their towns; we still have Amtrak long distance travel, however degraded, for similar reasons. I could be wrong, because the crisis makes everything overly dynamic, but I think there’s space for a deal. Personally, if I were a Democrat, I’d start with a demand not only a Post Office bank, but for broadband — especially rural broadband — using Post Office real estate and billing where possible, and negotiate downward from there.


I want to highlight this wonderful thread on the Post Office from someone who delivers your mail:

It was nice, when I moved to Maine, to have as my carrier the man who also delivered books and manuscripts to my mother; and who went to the same church. Many millions have had a similar experience. Could be worth calling your Congress critter about, just to make sure their head is on straight.


[1] There is also a view that Trump wants to destroy the prospect of Vote By Mail for November by destroying the Post Office. I think this assumes that Trump is pointlessly devious. To control the outcome of vote by mail, all you have do is control the tabulation. So far as I know — I could be wrong — none of the vote-by-mail proposals on offer prevent privatizing the count. Much simpler to buy a vendor or a programmer than to take the heat for destroying the Post Office.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Ford Prefect

    Trump’s rural voters will just need to rely on UPS and FedEx for their mail service. I assume those services will deliver their Social Security checks for free.

  2. notabanktoadie

    But on no account should the Post Office go into banking, even though it processes enormous amounts of cash, including money orders, and has all the bricks and mortar anyone could want for gen-u-wine, old-fashioned branches! What’s the matter, can’t hire any banking executives who aren’t crooks to roll out the operation? lambert

    Let’s be careful here. Local post offices could certainly serve as branches for the Federal Reserve (or US Treasury) and offer inherently risk-free checking, debit, and savings services and FOR FREE for all citizens up to reasonable limits. But those post offices should certainly NOT do any lending nor pay interest since both of those violate equal protection under the law.

    So a fiat checking and debit service for all citizens is certainly allowable and arguably even REQUIRED per the inherent right of citizens to use their Nation’s fiat – including in inherently risk-free account form.

    But add lending or positive interest and you’ve poisoned an inherent right with welfare for the so-called “credit worthy” and welfare proportional to account balance.

    So let’s start off on an ethically un-impeachable footing and stay there so as to not give the banks ammunition they will certainly use and to eventually de-privilege the usury cartel completely. And the benefits of an ethical finance system would certainly outweigh any shortsighted benefit obtained from copying private bank practices.

    1. lambert strether

      You’re quite right. When I think of post office banks I think of checking and savings. Hasty writing on my part.

    2. a different chris

      I follow you except for

      >up to reasonable limits.

      Why a limit? Who decides what is reasonable? I really don’t think Richie Rich is going to (somehow?) blow up the postal service by putting his billion in “free checking”.


      >offer inherently risk-free checking, debit, and savings services …. (but not) positive interest

      What is the diff between a savings account without any interest and a checking account?

      1. notabanktoadie

        Why a limit? a different chris

        Because beyond legitimate initial capital formation and liquidity needs, risk-free savings become risk-free fiat hoarding and should be discouraged for the sake of progress, which requires taking risks.

        Who decides what is reasonable? ibid

        That’s a political decision but I would think AT LEAST the current insured deposit limit in the US, $250,000. Or make it a cool $1,000,000 or whatever is legitimately required to start a small business or cover investment decisions that don’t pan out.

        I really don’t think Richie Rich is going to (somehow?) blow up the postal service by putting his billion in “free checking”. ibid

        Eventually, as reform progresses, Richie would have no other choice than a Postal Checking and Debit Service (or whatever it’s called) if he wanted an inherently risk-free place to store his US dollars with zero maturity wait. And for that, Richie should pay a premium compared to other inherently risk-free US sovereign debt (Treasury bonds, etc.)

        What is the diff between a savings account without any interest and a checking account? ibid

        Good catch which is why I usually only say “checking and debit services.”

    3. The Rev Kev

      Maybe this is the whole point of trying to destroy the Postal Service. To absolutely eliminate the possibility that the Postal Service could one day offer banking service that would compete with any of the big banks and on fairer terms.

    4. Yves Smith

      No they could not. This is delusional thinking.

      You need a ton more than a physical store to provide checking and savings accounts. Retail plant it the least important part, in fact arguably unimportant (the UK has a lot of internet-only banks, for instance).

      The volume of transactions in banking vastly exceeds that of any other activity because all those real and financial economy purchases and sales eventually net into a checking account somewhere. The IT requirements are staggering. There’s nothing off the shelf. Banks are babying ancient legacy infrastructure on mainframes because getting off it would require an estimated 3 years of their total profits.

      In addition to that, you need anti-fraud, anti-money laundering, procedures to deal with bad payments, the ability to stop checks…. and you act as if this can happen with a handwave?

      Oh, and the failure rate of large IT projects is admitted to be over 50% and insiders estimate more like over 80%. And this would be way larger than normal private sector “large IT projects:. So don’t assume this could actually be built.

      This is na ga happen because it will cost a fortune to build. You need at least to acknowledged the costs before you make bogus “for free” claims.

      1. notabanktoadie

        By “for free”, I only meant for individual citizens up to reasonable limits on account balance and transaction rate – much as M4A would be free at the point of service – per the inherent right of citizens to use fiat in account form and not just depository institutions.

  3. flora

    Thanks very much for this post. Important information.

    adding: I have no personal feeling toward T-the-man one way or the other. Opinions about his policies, yes; personal opinions about him personally, no. However, if he kills the USPS that will change… ugly.

    1. flora

      Not that politicians ready to kill the USPS care about citizens’ opinions about this important national lifeline.

      (If there’s one thing the pandemic is showing it’s that we no longer need national lifelines. /massive snark)

  4. Synoia

    How will debt collection notices be delivered? They are a very important part of our economy – no notice, not collectable I believe.

    Please enlighten me. I’m not sure of any of these points.

    1. a different chris

      Haha NOW we know the source of Trump’s disaffinity for the USPS!!

      Ok maybe not, but it is true that Trump is the ultimate expression of Occam’s Razor. He never does anything for complicated reasons. You just have to dig enough. A tub of Rolaids is always necessary…

  5. Mark Gisleson

    Thank you, this will make a handy link. Little else I can say as this entire topic enrages me. I suspect the only thing left on their agenda after the USPS dies will be the banning of public libraries.

    1. Hamford

      Public lands gotta be on their agenda.

      “Gotta sell some forests and natural treasures, because markets and deficits”

  6. Carolinian

    Thanks for suggesting that Trump may have a point when it comes to Amazon. Plus it should be pointed out that Amazon is already moving away from the USPS and has explicitly dropped FedEx and UPS during the disease crisis. For several months now my intown neighborhood has had Amazon vans cruising around and delivering packages. In other places like Phoenix this has been going on for a couple of years now. There are some things still being delivered from Amazon via USPS–for example a book I got several weeks ago. But perhaps the post office should appease Trump and raise those rates since they are slowly losing the business anyway. And above all–who cares what happens to Bezos. Not I….

    1. a different chris

      Yes the belief that Bezos is so smart, and he truly is a very bright guy, that he will never bite off more than he can chew is unlikely to prove out in the long run.

      Can he deliver stuff more cheaply over the long run than anybody else– that’s not easy. You underpay drivers you get druggies that run over Grandma. If you underpay mechanics you get vehicles whose brakes don’t work right and run over Grandma.

      Owning a newspaper is not cheap, in these times of diminished advertising revenue. Being the middleman sounds good – but anybody ever been the middleman for a breaking relationship? Well your sis and your best friend was tough enough, think about standing between China and the US as things heat up.

      Oh and isn’t somebody also trying to build rockets?

      And he’s got like no friends.

      Well we’ll see. The bigger they are the harder they fall.

      1. Carolinian

        I think that’s something different from what I’m talking about and maybe i got my statement wrong re UPS. I know they dropped FedEx. From your link

        Amazon AMZN, -0.01% told shippers the service, known as Amazon Shipping, will be paused starting in June. It was available in just a handful of U.S. cities.

        Under the program, Amazon drivers would pick up packages from businesses and deliver them to consumers, rather than ship orders from Amazon warehouses.

        We still have those Amazon vans delivering from Amazon warehouses. And to the extent that Amazon uses USPS that also comes from warehouses and is dropped off at the local main P.O.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Indeed. A smart politician would use Trumo’s dislike for Bezos as a way to shore up the post office and stick it to the Emerald City Cueball at the same time.

      Too bad those smart politicians are in such short supply.

  7. Carla

    Great Twitter thread. But Dingus J. McGee, ESQ, as wonderful as he is, and he’s terrific, needs to know that a stamp is now 55 cents, not 50.

  8. ElViejito

    My apologies. You’re right, I didn’t read the post all the way to the end. However, I still believe Trump usually prefers a broadaxe to a scalpel. And this is a threefer: one “socialist” public service gone, one labor union destroyed, and a significant reduction in the “urban” vote. And Trump will promise that whatever privatized, non-union entity takes over will provide even better service – the Best Service Ever!
    Excellent post, by the way.

  9. John

    How did that bill ever pass without money for the post office in the first place?

    Congress should have told Mnuchin and Trump to shove it. And let loose holy hell on every TV show, newspaper and radio show about what they were demanding. Every single constituent needs the post office.

  10. TheCatSaid

    I was just watching a video posted by someone I know who went into the LA post office yesterday to send packages to Ireland and got into a conversation with the worker. He’d been working for 32 yrs for the post office. He said he was worried as they’d been told “to look out come September, they’d probably be out of work by then.”

    She asked if this was at that particular post office? He said no, the whole postal service. “The longer we stay in lockdown, we can’t meet our debts and it’s going to crash this place.”

    My acquaintance also noticed that all the staff wore bandannas or homemade masks. They were considered “essential workers” and were required to wear face masks, but the post office was unable to provide them for the workers.

    If you want to listen to Dr. Mary Helen Hensley tell this experience, the link is here. Forward to about 35:00 for where she describes the encounter.

    Bonus: if you’d like to hear a really funny story, at that same link scroll to about 29:00 where she reads writer Ben R. Williams’ “My Favorite Easter Story”, which she reads with his permission. Hilarious!!!

  11. cnchal

    > . . . Adding about $1.50 to the delivery cost for each Amazon package . . .

    That is not even peanuts. How about a 350 to 400 % price increase for the peasants that was imposed system wide on Jan 26th 2020, just as the corona virus disaster was getting going.

    Trump and Mnuchin support the euthenization of small business. Anyone have any idea of the squeeling sounds that would come out of Trump’s mouth were any of his expenses to jump by 350% overnight?

    About that last mile. UPS charges for a few bucks extra, just for home delivery, and if they have to go for a bit of a drive (rural delivery) it’s even moar. UPS has a super duper special deal with USPS, so what are the odds the money is collected and rural delivery is handed off to USPS and the extra fees are money for nothing?

    @Carolinian — media mail gets an almost free ride at USPS and Amazon rides that bus as much as they can. Everybody thinks Bezos beat the system by not charging sales tax, but he started off selling books because they don’t rot in storage and USPS subsidizes the shipping.

    1. TheCatSaid

      Everybody thinks Bezos beat the system by not charging sales tax, but he started off selling books because they don’t rot in storage and USPS subsidizes the shipping.

      Well, you left out the fact that Bezos’ maternal grandfather was one of the 4 founders of DARPA (and was interviewed to be its director at its inception) and was the head of the “region” of the Atomic Energy Commission that controlled most of the US territory including uranium sources, Las Alamos, etc., and at DARPA was responsible for developing new methods of 3rd party outsourcing (does that sound like Amazon?) and Bezos’ paternal grandfather (the one who rode a unicycle and had a bike shop) also happened to work at the AEC, being in charge of strategic logistics (does that sound like Amazon?)

      There is a lot about Bezos’ family background that preceded his getting into the used book business. His true story was not that of a “bootstraps / adopted son of a humble immigrant” that we have been told. If you search for Housatonic ITS and Gise you’ll find lots of documentation about the stuff that wikipedia and the Bezos “official narrative” omit. (Might be more productive to search using gibiru.com )

  12. JBird4049

    Somehow I think that eliminating much of the country’s shipping infrastructure while still in quarantine is not really doable.

    Well, it is, strictly speaking, doable of course, but does FedEx, DHL, and UPS really have the ability to replace the USPS during a quarantine without serious interruptions?

    This might explain why some people are pushing to end the quarantine before June. It might theoretically be possible for the 10% to not have their shipments of whatever interrupted (who cares about the 90%) without the national quarantine.

    This might, just maybe, blowup in Congress’ and the President’s face if the USPS is shut down.

  13. John Beech

    If, as a I suspect, Pelosi, Shumer, et al. are playing the role of Br’er Rabbit to Trump’s Br’er Fox vice letting the USPS fail, then it’ll be President Trump’s undoing. Guess we’ll soon find out.

    1. flora

      Yep. In 2011, during O’s administration, the Post Offices started closing branch offices in numbers. The Dems were onboard with that. (Having both houses and the WH in 2009-2010, they could have eliminated the egregious, 75-year pre-funding requirement that was designed to break the USPS, imo. They kept it on the books.) Sen. Mrs. Blum’s husband’s company did very well out the closures, getting an exclusive property brokers contract for shuttered branch offices. Br’er Rabbit, indeed.

  14. Bob Hertz

    I am curious about the Post Office’s retiree health care…. not how fast to fund it, but why the benefit exists in the first place.

    If the Post Office is providing health insurance to retirees over age 65, this seems foolish. These retirees I assume can get Medicare, and I assume that Part A would be free to them and Part B would cost about $140 a month. I do not know why any corporation provides health insurance to retirees over age 65. Maybe give them $100 a month each for a Medicare Advantage plan.

    I suspect that the Post Office does provide health insurance for persons who retire before age 65. This is a trickier issue. One could say that many of these retirees have health problems due to the working conditions, and so the employer should cover them.

    One could also say that anyone who can retire with a pension before age 65 is a lucky ducky right there, and let them buy their own health coverage.

    1. Felix_47

      I used to work for the USPS. It was a traditional place for minorities to get a foothold into the middle class. Because of strong Federal Law protections many of the workers could just skate while some workers had to bust their butt working to handle the job. There were a lot of worker’s comp claims that often were ridiculous although uniformly expensive and a lot of litigation and a lot of anger at being told what to do by often incompetent management promoted for social/political reasons….just like all government jobs and the military. “Going postal” meant something. You were not going to get rich working for the post office but you were taken care of just like the military. In fact, many of us were ex military. It was a great job for marginal producers who the society has to take care of as well. Not everyone can or morally could go to Harvard Business School. Which makes me wonder if we had Tricare why would the Post Office be paying for health care in retirement anyway? While I was there I never thought about it. The government should just leave the Post Office alone and cover the shortfall. What is government for anyway? One reason seems to be to pay for the Post Office which is a lot more important than a squadron of F35s or cheap cash for hedge funds to lever and speculate.

  15. A Nony Mouse

    For any who care to look at the co-sponsors to the “Susan Collins” Senate bill, S.662 – Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, to destroy the U.S. post office, you will find such Democratic luminaries as Chuck Schumer, Ben Nelson, and Dick Durbin. Even “back then” on the economic front Neoliberalism was almost indistinguishable from Neoconservatism on matters of economic policy.

    1. flora

      The kleptocratic wings (and estabs) of both parties have more in common with each other than with their voters.

  16. paintedjaguar

    “the initial act of sabotage (“The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act”)”
    Nah. The first serious wound was under Nixon in 1970 – that’s when the USPS was devolved from government agency to semi-private status. Looting the Post Office (and the Natl. Parks, and SS, and Medicare) has been on the agenda for a long, long time. Did you know that in major cities at least, mail used to be delivered twice a day?

  17. Ralph Reed

    When I was a homeless alcoholic living outdoors rough the post worker, Richie, always had a couple bucks for a coffee or a beer when I asked and time for a little repartee.

  18. charly

    Amazon does not have a universal service obligation. Delivering to only 99% of addresses is perfectly do-able for amazon and does not create an opening for real competitors. That is why the USPS can’t ask more.

    Privatization, read paying staff much less, has been done in other countries and has been shown to be a total disaster with respect to the reliability of mail delivery. A much higher percentage of letters just doesn’t show up on time, or at all.

    1. Dirk77

      Interesting. More evidence that the free market is not always best. Things won’t change until people wanting change start demanding instead of asking. That’s what you do when you have the intellectual high ground. Correspondingly, if people aren’t yet demanding, then there either is not evidence yet, or they don’t know it.

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