My congratulations to FedEx and UPS. By now, you’ve probably heard the United State Postal Service announcement that most of Saturday’s mail service will be eliminated.
Come August 5th there will be no more first-class Saturday mail. You’ll still get packages and express mail and meds but no letters or bills or assorted other stuff you’re used to finding in your mailbox. It’s all part of (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), “restructuring.” What’s being restructured are the votes of plaint legislators swooning to the siren songs and campaign money promises and whatever other sleazy tactics lobbyists use to twist our central government into a corporate-owned meaningless big room with chairs.
I’ve already backgrounded this subject in an earlier submission. The initial grease for the slide to oblivion was a piece of 2006 legislation with the alleged goal of reforming postal laws. It was titled the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.” A Republican Congress was behind its passage and its singular purpose was designed to kill the USPS.
For all the crocodile tears about competition from emails, texting et al, annual Postal Service revenues are about what they were in 2002. What has changed dramatically are the employment numbers. The nation’s largest employer of veterans has sacrificed a total of 200,000 career postal union jobs in the past 10 years.
The 2006 act forced USPS to pre-fund the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Plan for a decade paying 75 years forward. Most people who pay attention to current events are already aware of the huge multi-billion dollar obligation and profit drainer. Annual payments range from $5.4 – $5.8 billion. The Postal Service simply can’t pay the current installment.
And while all attention is riveted on the pre-funding issue, little notice is paid to that section of the bill that may sound the death knell for a venerable American institution. It recasts the Postal Regulatory Commission. The PRC is comprised of five members armed with incredible powers, virtually none in service to the Postal Service.
Section 702 as worded “Requires a report from the PRC to the President and Congress on universal postal service and the postal MONOPOLY in the United States, including the monopoly on the delivery of mail and access to mailboxes. A Republican Congress worried about a monopoly after laboring for the past century to guarantee same for their corporate pals?
Then we move on to Section 703. It requires a report from the Federal Trade Commission to the President, Congress and the PRC identifying federal and state laws that apply differently to the Postal Service with respect to the competitive category of mail and to private companies providing similar products.
And here’s the clincher; There’s another oversight group in play here, the Postal Service Board of Governors made up of a Bush-appointed right wing lobbyist and former head of a state Republican Party, a Carlyle Group (a right-wing international business juggernaut) adviser, a former Republican Representative and a Chairman who is an active member of the Federalist Society. Supreme Court Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito were once members. Need I say more?
The Board of Governors establishes rates and classes for products in the competitive category of mail (priority and expedited mail, bulk parcel post and bulk international mail and mailgrams). With a 4-1 Republican Board of Governor’s majority, do you suppose these rates might favor the FedEx’s and UPS’s of the world?
Here’s the payoff. Under “Modern Rate Regulation”, the PRC is to establish “a modern system for regulating rates and classes for market-dominate products.” That would seem to include anything and everything that competitively moves through mail commerce; all first-class mail, parcels and cards, periodicals, standard mail, single-piece parcel post, media mail, bound printed matter, library mail, special services and single-piece international mail. All rate-regulated mind you. Regulation??? But mommy, I taut da wepubicins hated wegulation.
I’m not done yet. The system is also required to include an annual LIMITATION on percent changes in rates. Free Market? With hypocritical Republicans anything goes when it comes to destroying a unionized business.
So let’s take a peek at the makeup of this omnipotent Postal Regulatory Commission. Robert Taub is a member. He was appointed by Barack Obama in October of 2011 for a six-year term. He was once Chief of Staff to former Republican Representative John McHugh from upstate New York. Who is John McHugh you ask? Probably the one man who had more to do with the construction and passage of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act than any single Congressman or woman. That’s who John McHugh is and his former COS is the Fox in the PRC hen house as the Vice Chairman of the PRC looking after his former bosses legislative progeny. So what was Obama thinking? Maybe there’s another fox in the hen house.
Another PRC member is Mark Acton a big shot in the Republican National Committee. He was reappointed by Obama in 2011. Acton served as Executive Director of the RNC Redistricting Committee. You know all about Republican Redistricting especially designed to guarantee perpetual Republican Districts. Welcome back Mr. Acton.
Tony Hammond, a Republican is now serving his third term as commissioner. Something akin to a lifetime appointment for Republicans I guess. He’s another big RNC guy who was originally appointed by George W. Bush and obligingly re-upped by our current President. Hammond once served on the staff of Mississippi Representative Gene Taylor, a Democrat who proudly announced he voted for John McCain in ’08. He is from Mississippi after all. Oh, and Taylor was the ranking member of the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee when he left office, so staffer Hammond will fit right in at the wake for the USPS.
A couple of years ago the PRC unanimously denied a USPS rate increase request while conceding the Postal Service pre-funding would bring about an even greater money crisis.
The irony of the Saturday closing is that despite claimed savings of billions, it will still be pretty much Saturday business as usual. There’s mail to be sorted for Monday, facilities will still be opened and Mail Carriers only work five-day weeks anyway. Postal employees tell me that there’s still lots of work to do and they see virtually no savings from the move.
Get ready to say bye bye to the Postal Service as we know it and hello to near-monopoly private providers who will charge high prices, pay low “Right to Work” wages, hire a majority of their workers on a part-time basis, pay little or no benefits and realize obscene profits.
It’s the American way as long as Republicans control any part of the political process.