The US Postal Service Needs You

May 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Posted in Economy, Historical, Labor, Post Office, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. PARCEL POST, 1914 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

It really annoys me to hear people speak disparagingly of the United States Postal Service. The post office is specifically authorized in Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution. It’s worked really well for more than 230 years. If not for the ridiculous budget cuts, Congressional refusal to allow price increases and hamstringing, the Post Office wouldn’t be in the sad condition it’s in today.

Santa Rosa Post Office & Federal Building, 401 Fifth Street (moved to Seventh Street), Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

What private business is going to deliver a birthday card to your sister who lives across town the day after you drop it in a box for less than $1? Not FedEx. They want $7.65 to deliver a letter across town overnight. FedEx wants almost $12 to get a letter from New England to the West Coast in five days. The United States Postal Service? Forty-five cents.

Charlie Pierce is absolutely right, people didn’t come by their ridiculous complaints about the post office without help:

POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. REPAIRING MAILBAGS, 1914 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

The entire modern conservative movement consists of an ongoing attempt to sever the relationship of a self-governing people to their government, to break down the concept of a political commonwealth. Many of the conservative attempts to wedge people apart through the use of an Other to be feared and despised — whether that was black people, or empowered women, or immigrants, or gay people — have been framed to attack the government’s attempts to ameliorate discrimination against the groups in question. In modern conservative thought, then, and in the mindset it seeks to ingrain on the people of the country, the government is the ultimate Other.
In doing so, the corporate masters of the conservative movement are good with all of this because they seek a wary, frightened and insecure people. Those people are too cowed to make waves, too spooked to assert their rights as citizens, too confused to demand accountability.

There is a reason why we used to build buildings the way we built the post office in Geneva, with its mural and its marble, and its great arching windows and its Doric entablature. It wasn’t because we were profligate. It was because we considered self-government, for all its faults, to be something precious that belonged to all of us, and that it should be housed in places that looked as though we valued it enough to celebrate it and protect it at the same time. They were monuments we raised to ourselves, because we deserved them.

If you think government is the problem, you haven’t been paying attention.

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