If I have a cause as a contributing writer to PoliticusUSA, it is to expose the ongoing and relentless attempts to render the Postal Service as a largely irrelevant errand boy for giant for-profit corporate interests.
This is the first of a two-part examination of the latest USPS developments from assorted media sources and from my coterie of confidential informants (CI’s) who work (as of this moment) for the Postal Service. If this were a debate topic it would be worded as follows: “Resolved: That corporate-owned Republican Representatives and Senators will do everything in their power to benefit the likes of FedEx and effectively destroy any meaningful role for the United State Postal Service.”
The prime benefactor of the ongoing USPS downward spiral will be FedEx (of part-time worker fame), headed by Fred W. Smith, founder and CEO. Fred is worth $2.3 billion, lives in a 21-room Memphis manor on about 12 acres and clearly needs all the legislative help he can get. Here’s multi-billionaire Smith’s modest Sweetbriar Rd. Memphis shack with the photos compliments of Celebrity House Pictures.
FedEx spent over $12 million in lobbying efforts last year and in the 2014 campaign contribution cycle is currently wildly generous to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. FedEx has also laid $34,000 on Arkansas Democratic Senior Senator Mark Pryor’s campaign so far in 2014 according to Open Secrets. Could it be his number one GovTrack ranking as the most conservative Democratic Senator in 2013 and his co-sponsorship of USPS-weakening legislation? Political wild man, Tim Scott, is the recipient of a quick ten grand as well as South Carolina’s single congressional Democrat, James Clyburn. Why Clyburn? Probably because his office has fed at least 4 future lobbyists to the Podesta Group, including current South Carolina State Democratic Party Chairman, Jaime Harrison.
We don’t often think of the USPS malaise in terms of trade agreements. We should. They give the likes of FedEx huge competitive advantages.
Last March, ‘Missi’ from the Podesta group sent out a press release announcing the launch of a “new global strategies and risk management” company – Global Solutions. Leading the Global effort will be former Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan. Here’s where it gets very accommodating for FedEx and friends. Sarukhan’s first primary duty will be “negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership”…the dreaded and largely secret TPP. Secret to even most, and I emphasize ‘most’ Congresspersons. Not all, mind you. With his Podesta connections, Clyburn will most likely be privy to the contents of TPP down to the last comma and period.
Bear in mind that Sarukhan was an insider during NAFTA negotiations and intends to represent the same international and domestic business interests in his TPP mischief. He’ll probably also stick his nose into another agreement. This one is with the EU called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) also lesser known as the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA). H’mmm another partnership; this one involving the U.S. and the 28 member states of the European Union.
Michael Ducker, the Executive VP, President and CEO of FedEx International testified last October in favor of TTIP before the Senate Committee on Finance. The Chairman (at the time) was Max Baucus, the slippery Montana Democrat, parroted John Boehner in calling the Affordable Care Act a “train wreck.” Max has just been confirmed by a 96-0 Senate vote to be new Ambassador to China without knowing much of anything about China. That many Republican votes indicates the corporate lackeys of the GOP trust Baucus to do the “right” thing. I can’t wait to see the aging, bleary-eyed Baucus’ jet-laggedly stumble across the tarmac directly to sensitive economic talks with his razor-sharp and shady Chinese counterparts in the offices of the State Economic & Trade Commission. Better have a six-pack of Red Bull at the ready.
Oh, did I tell you FedEx is building a new hub in China? .
Baucus set the predictable tone for the committee’s queries. It started with a plea for lower tariffs, already in single digits, increasing U.S. exports, cutting regulations and red tape and sparking investment and innovation. Translation: Screw the workers in both America and Europe; give the giant corporations whatever they want and keep regulations at an absolute minimum.
Utah’s veteran Senator, Orrin Hatch, upped the ante and perhaps lowered our protection from food and plant diseases by recommending the agreement’s elimination of “unjustified” sanitary and phytosanitary standards. I’m assuming he means overriding the standards already successfully set in place by five agencies.
These easily adaptable standards cover a wide range of protective measures ranging from fruit, meat and seafood to swallow’s nests. Learn more here. Do any of those measures seem “unjustified” to you? There are also sensible European guidelines. It’s mighty uncomfortable wondering exactly what safeguards negotiators plan to eliminate through TTIP.approval.
Next on the agenda was witness Michael Ducker, the Executive VP and CEO of FedEx International. He talked of his company serving 220 countries and territories. Unsaid was that every country covered by TTIP and TPP is a FedEx country. He told the committee FedEx created 300,000 jobs for FedEx “team members” worldwide. If the U.S. is any guide, an overwhelming percentage of those jobs are part-time. He also told of FedEx handling 10 million shipments a day.
He wants to “liberalize” (bet that’s the first time he’s ever used that term) rules that govern trade and investments and pushed for regulatory compatibility. That’s code for minimal regulations and rules that are ‘compatible’ with FedEx demands. He wants these regulations to be mutually agreed upon rather than have to deal with countries that might have different attitudes about free markets and regulations. And, undoubtedly speaking for owner, Smith, he wants to get rid of all tariffs that remain, no matter how benign. He also wants to prevent state-owned enterprises from engaging in anti-competition conduct. The EU already disallows the practice. I suspect FedEx wants that changed to favor the U.S. and especially FedEx, so only FedEx is allowed to engage in anti-competition monopolistic conduct. Strategic mergers must undoubtedly be on the FedEx board table in order to make such a big issue of competition. The company is already the largest of its category in the world. How greedy can you get?
While U.S.-encouraged TTIP talks enter a fourth round of secret (of course) negotiations, a possible monkey-wrench has been thrown into the best laid plans of mice and greedy corporations. The European Parliament has called for a March 12th vote, possibly suspending future TTIP talks until the U.S. gets its surveillance house in order. Only the most connected of insiders know the status of TPP.
One final point for this first part. You recall that the Postal Service has no money, must cut over 220,000 jobs by 2015 and has already closed and consolidated facilities all over America. If an overcoat for an elephant cost 10 cents, USPS couldn’t afford an undershirt for a mosquito. What the Postal Service can apparently afford is a $10.5 billion, seven-year contract with FedEx to transport mail between U.S. airports. This, after purportedly losing over $16 billion last fiscal year?
Part two examines personal and legislative USPS issues.