U.S. Postal Service is essential for America
Attempts to undermine the U.S. Postal Service for short-term political gains will have long-term negative consequences especially in rural America.
In the latest battle, President Donald Trump has launched criticism agains the postal service in staunch opposition to so-called mail-in voting. In Wisconsin this is the traditional absentee ballots that have been a staple in elections for decades, and which historically has skewed toward Republican-dominated demographic groups.
Many areas of the country are discussing or implementing mail-in ballots as they balance safety concerns during the pandemic with making it easier for more voters to participate in the general election.
At the same time as it is being kicked around like a soccer ball, newly appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a strong Trump supporter, has implement a series of cost-cutting measures that have hobbled the postal service’s ability to quickly and efficiently deliver mail and packages. These rules, which have more to do with slowing down service than with saving money, include banning overtime pay and extra delivery trips, and ordered mail carriers to leave letters and packages behind in distribution centers until the next day if they couldn’t fit on the truck. The result of this penny pinching has been to slow down service with the intent of undermining consumers’ faith in the postal service and in the process drive away business.
The end goal of these efforts it to orchestrate a situation by which efforts to privatize the postal service can get a foothold. The core problem with privatization is the negative impact it will have on rural delivery.
Moving packages and letters in urban areas costs less than moving the same volume of mail in rural areas because it benefits from the economies of scale that large, densely-packed populations can achieve. Rural mail routes have fewer customers per mile and relatively low volumes. Any effort to privatize would see rural services decline or disappear with the focus solely on urban customers.
The U.S. Postal Service is the only entity that has the ability, and mandate, to reach everyone where they live. Companies such as UPS, FedEx and others can pick and choose where and how they deliver their service to maximize their profitability.
The Postal Service is one of the great equalizers in the country when it comes to the urban and rural divide. This has been especially true in the ongoing pandemic which has accelerated the transition to online shopping venues and postal workers on the front lines keeping the wheels of commerce rolling and much needed goods and services in the hands of consumers.
Congress must take action to ensure the Postal Service remains insulated from political posturing and that the service remains accessible to all Americans.