The U.S. Postal Service was formed way back on July 26, 1775, by the Continental Congress to be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the government of the United States.
Today, 245 years later, the USPS earns super high marks by 90% of the American public. Most folks love our postmen and postwomen. We give them gifts at Christmas. Some, we know by first name. These men and women serving us do so through good weather and bad, through challenges too many to count, consistently, assuredly, six days a week, every week – and throw in Sundays for some special deliveries!
They do what they say: They serve. They deliver. They take your 50-cent letter, and will send it to any spot in the U.S., no matter how distant or obscure. Your crazy uncle who lives somewhere in a shed in Appalachia? Or in Tununak, Alaska? Yeah, 50 cents and your family Christmas letter makes its reliable way.
Fifty cents! That doesn’t buy as much as candy bar.
Think about this incredible public value before joining the current presidentially led chorus deriding and defunding the Post Office.
The USPS mandate is to serve the public at set rates providing necessary and essential services. It is a quasi-governmental operation devoted to public service at reasonable rates and are not profit-centered. Remarkably and reliably, they get your 50-cent letter to your uncle someplace and anyplace – and you just take the whole logistical miracle behind it all for granted.
You try getting a pride-filled family Christmas letter to that uncle on your without the USPS and see what that costs. Your next option might be FedEx. Three-day delivery for this will cost you $11. Two day, $24.50. You can see the math…
You want to defund the Post Office? Let it die of COVID complications? Privatize it or reorganize with some “capitalistic efficiency?” Get ready to pay $500 to send out your 45 Christmas letters. Watch the U.S. government incur billions and billions in extra charges to send out Social Security checks, tax rebate checks, and all the other communication sent back and forth with Uncle Sam.
And most businesses receive bills, send checks, get checks — and postal delivery is the heartbeat and arteries of their cash flow. Our company sends out 500 checks a month. We receive perhaps 150 invoices and other documents a day. The upcharge to going private mail delivery would cost our modest company alone up to $40,000 a month.
Multiply our experience by the 18 million other businesses in the U.S. Add in all the mail to and from our 330 million individual Americans. Indeed, the USPS delivers Americans more than 142 BILLION items per year. They deliver to 160 million delivery points — including 678 land-based and 389 shipboard Military Post Offices and 140 Diplomatic Post Offices.
The USPS covers a lot of ground. It’s an almost inconceivably complex and giant operation. It takes logistical miracles to get and send your stuff. Nearly 500,000 career employees delivering mail to 42,000 ZIP codes and 31,200 retail post offices.
You want a passport? The USPS processes 6.2 million passports a year. And all of this is funded with zero tax dollars. No tax dollars.
But now, COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the Post Office. Like other large impacted business, they are asking for government assistance to keep essential services uninterrupted. Private churches paying zero taxes got billions in bailouts. More than $1.2 trillion in bailout money has been blanketed over the country, yet the USPS, as essential a service as has ever been, is being hung up for assistance during a devastating crisis.
This is nonsense and it may well be criminal as presidential meddling may likely impair ballot delivery and receipt.
Said President Donald Trump, “Now they need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”
And, “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money, that means they can’t have universal mail-in voting. They just can’t have it.”
Thus says the supposed defender of our democracy. This is shameful.
In addition to 142 billion postal items and 6.2 million passports, the USPS of course, also processes tens of millions of mail-in ballots. If the USPS is compromised, the veracity of the vote diminishes as does the perceived validity of the election. Bingo, “The election was rigged folks… and the loss doesn’t count.”
Benjamin Franklin himself established the post office. Now, Donald Trump himself wants to damage and delay it.
Let’s stick with Ben Franklin. Let’s stick with the USPS, which so essentially supports you and me and is a backbone in voting rights.
Vote as you will, but support voting itself and the USPS, which will dependably service the essential service of ballot logistics.
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.