Politicians offer either/or solutions to the Post Office. The answer is both/and.
Listen to Democrats recite the woes of the United States Post Office and most of them will tell you: It needs more money. Its unionized work force is a good thing. Republican demands to reform it are a smokescreen for privatizing it. Its low rates keep it meaningful for the average citizen. Bottom line: The Post Office is a victim of COVID-19 like everything else, and it just needs more money to survive. The only question is whether to give it the money or lend it.
Listen to Republicans recite the woes of the United States Post Office and most of them will tell you: It doesn’t need more money, it just wastes it. Its unionized work force retards its efficiency. Reforms are long overdue and address absurd conditions, such as 75-year health benefits. Its low rates are unrealistic; without raising them, it will never escape its deficit. Bottom line: The Post Office’s problems long, long predate COVID-19. The only question is whether to reform the Post Office or let it continue to bleed the country.
The Intermountain Jewish News and our readers have a critical stake in this debate. Weekly delivery of the IJN depends on an efficient US Post Office. The future of the Post Office is not either/or. The future is not: Either subsidize the Post Office endlessly or never. Not: Either keep its financial and labor structures in place or toss them. A rational approach avoids these extremes and opts for:
• Extend the PO a major aid package to enable it to get through the COVID crisis. It is entirely unrealistic to believe that the country can exist without the Post Office. Checks, mail-in ballots, jury summons, diplomas, greeting cards, health insurance data, utility bills and many other items reach people via the Post Office. Not all of this can be done online, nor do all citizens prefer to reveal the private, personal information that going online requires. Rural citizens simply could not live without the Post Office, since other, private delivery services don’t go there, or don’t go there very often.
• Institute long overdue reforms that will enable the Post Office to become financially viable. These reforms include:
— a raise in rates, which, besides making financial sense, would cut down on junk mail, though the drastic 400% rate hike demanded by President Trump is unrealistic;
— an increase in the use of outside contractors, not to undermine the union but to let competition build its efficiency;
— elimination of the PO’s unique, absurd, pre-funded health benefits — 75-year pre-funded benefits! — of all Post Office employees.
Copyright © 2020 by the Intermountain Jewish News