By Raymond Freeman 08/15/2013
UPDATED Aug. 19
No more Saturday delivery. No more door-to-door mail service for millions of Americans. The Postal Reform Act of 2013 recently introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Oceanside, would force these drastic changes on the Postal Service, slashing more than 100,000 jobs and fatally gutting it.
Don’t be surprised. It’s part of the GOP’s plan to destroy America to get rich. It’s business as usual. They’ve been doing it for years, in broad daylight, in a democracy, in the Information Age. It’s like taking candy from children.
Republicans have done an outstanding job of destroying America’s industry and sending jobs overseas, solely to make the top 1 percent even richer. Many of the remaining jobs are ones that can’t be shipped out (food, hotels, warehousing, etc.) and pay starvation wages. A quarter of America’s workforce makes less than $10 an hour. Millions have full-time jobs but live in poverty. Most of the jobs created since the Crash of 2008 have been at minimum wage. By rights, minimum wage should be $22 an hour, to keep up with productivity gains. It’s $16 (American) in Australia. (No, it doesn’t cause unemployment; theirs is lower.)
In 24 states Republicans have passed “right to work” laws, meaning that workers have the “right” to slave labor because unions are essentially banned. The latest wheeze is “80/20,” which puts 80 percent of workers on “flexible” schedules, meaning they’re basically slaves on call. These workers must then rely on welfare. So taxpayers subsidize hugely profitable companies and overpaid CEOs. Even Newt Gingrich was disgusted, calling it “right-wing social engineering.”
The USPS is America’s second-largest employer, is not subsidized, and is unionized. But the GOP doesn’t want slave workers to see secure, well-paid workers. They want to privatize it (a) to weaken unions further, (b) to make their rich pals richer, (c) so that they’ll finance their campaigns. Clearly, this cannot be done by rational Jeffersonian debate. So the trick is to manufacture a crisis. The USPS is bankrupt! The sky is falling!
In 2006, the GOP pushed through a time bomb whereby the USPS had to pre-fund all retiree benefits for 75 years within a 10-year span. Hence, money has to be set aside, super-fast, for workers who haven’t yet been born. This is pure Alice in Wonderland. Without this, the USPS would be profitable and have $1.5 billion on hand. In fact, the USPS has overpaid its various retirement funds by an estimated $56 billion.
Republican treachery is nothing new. The Postal Service once ran an ad campaign showing that Express Mail was vastly cheaper than FedEx and UPS. These two companies tried to block that in court. The judge told them to boil their heads. No problem: they simply went to their Republican pals in Congress and got them to kill the ads. And the Postal Service cannot even raise the price of postage to an economic level. By international standards, the cost of a first-class stamp is ridiculously low.
Could it be that FedEx and UPS contributions of $50 million to the Republican Party had anything to do with the slow destruction of the Post Office? Nah, couldn’t be. Don’t be cynical.
In short, the Postal Service was given a deliberately insane set of rules under which no company could possibly survive. Now that it has run into trouble, as intended, we’re told that the thing doesn’t work and must be privatized (with nary a peep about that $56 billion stashed away). The family silver will get passed over the fence by Republican burglars to their pals, postal workers will be rehired at slave labor rates, and postal rates will go sky-high.
But surely, as the American public owns the USPS with all that family silver, you’ll get some compensation like any other takeover? Dream on. Small children with silver are no match for large burglars with experience. And with more legislative tricks, guess who’ll get that $56 billion? Retired postal workers? You? Aw, c’mon, it’ll be Darrell Issa’s friends!
Get this: poverty-stricken Republicans in rural areas in Red States, who need decent jobs and post offices the most, voted for Republicans and for this rip-off! If you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, cry very hard. Those states have gone from Norman Rockwell’s America to Charles Dickens’s London. Republican consultants figured out years ago that Republican voters can’t think.
And there are two bonuses. Votes by mail for Democrats will get mysteriously “lost” by Republican-friendly private carriers. Political campaigns need fliers mass-mailed at bulk rates. But campaigns will become ruinously expensive when the rates get jacked up. That’s not a problem for well-funded Republicans, is it?
The British media report about Republican schemes almost as though America were a Third World country run by robbers. Americans will be robbed blind if Issa’s heist succeeds. Moral? To prevent robbery, don’t vote for robbers in the first place.