Try to Imagine Christmas Without the Post Office
I am something of a political junkie off and on but I have really tried to tune it out this holiday season. The goings on in Washington DC make it hard but I have done pretty well at avoiding the soap opera that is on cable news. Like all soap operas it will be the same after the first of the year if I decide to turn on the TV.
However there is one thing in the political realm that has really been on my mind. There are politicians who are saying that the United States Post Office has outlived its usefulness, is not turning a profit and should be phased out and turned over to private enterprise. I am very upset about this. Especially at this time of year, who can imagine Christmas without the Post Office?
I for one have gone to the Post Office almost every day this week, to get stamps for my Christmas cards, to get a last gift out and to ship orders of the Quincy Books to purchasers who wanted to get that last gift under the tree on Christmas morning. Over the years I have lived in rural New Mexico and in the more populated Eastern seaboard. I have never seen a community that did not need a post office.
In my opinion, phasing out the Post Office as a public institution is a terrible idea. In the first place, the Post Office is not supposed to be an efficient business. Its mission is to provide safe, secure mail service to the entire country irrespective of the financial means and physical location of its customers. The plan to close down so many postal facilities is a slippery slope to full-fledged privatization. I, for one, do not want my mail services handled by a private corporation.
On the positive side I can think of so many ways that the US Postal Service helps in people’s daily lives. There are Post Offices everywhere in both urban and rural locations. Besides the importance for the general public, there are also special needs that are met by the U S Postal Service. The elderly who no longer drive use the U S Mail to receive their medicines. People without bank accounts use the Post Office to purchase and send money orders. The US Mail fills an invaluable niche for small business. My last shipments this week were to rural Utah and Portland, Oregon. To ship via UPS or Fedex would have cost my customers double digits but shipping two books in a Flat Rate Priority envelope was $4.95.
On the darker side, the record of private corporations has not been stellar. The telephone and wireless industry, the cable television industry, the power companies, etc. all have the same model. They raise prices, layoff workers and outsource customer service to other countries. They have no local connections or commitments. At a time when many people are trying to do things like bank and buy locally, closing hometown post offices is a step in the wrong direction.
I plan to stand up for the institution of the U S. Postal Service and it’s employees. I want them to be here next Christmas.