Well, unless you;ve been living under a rock, or in a foreign country, you probably know the US Postal Service is in bad shape- and has been for some time.
They are loosing roughly 20 million dollars a day, and have pretty well blown through a 15 Billion credit line from the US treasury.
And of course- no one knows what to do.
The GOP, the conservatives of course feel they should just compete on the open market with the likes of UPS, and Fed-Ex. That the restrictions on these private companies carrying general mail should be removed. That the USPS should lay off tens of thousands of workers, curtail service to 5 or even 4 days, and close thousands of locations.
But for millions of americans like me, and oddly, for a huge portion of the republican base… those that live in rural areas, these proposals are a disaster…
I have spent most of my 40+ years within 20-30 minutes of a US Post office. Where I could get money orders, have a post office box or receive letters or packages I could not get at my mailbox, deal with my passport (increasingly important in this day and age where even crossing our northern or southern border now requires a passport). But during that tie I have generally been 30mins to an hour away from a UPS or Fed-ex facility, often even further from one where I could do much more then pick up or drop off a package during a few hour window.
Despite email, facebook, online bill pay, etc having a huge impact on the postal services profits- for millions of americans they are still an important fixture- one many did not realize just how central it was in their lives until their loss-leader rural post office was facing closure.
And I think, in a lot of ways, the post office is a good analogy for what is going on in america right now. There are many programs that certainly cost us, as taxpayers, money. And when we look at the numbers, we are, righetously, shocked. But when we are faced with the reality of loosing them- we start to see how integral they are not only to our lives, but that of our communities. That the private sector alternatives are a poor imitation badly lacking.
And maybe it’s true that america has been built on an unsustainable dream. And that is something we need to honestly discuss.But for the millions of us that don’t live in cities, and the many of us that don’t even live near cities- for whom windy, potholed roads are the norm, for whom weather can cut us off for days, for whom a 30+ minute drive to a “real town” is reserved for once a week, at best (or worst), the private sector companies will never come close to providing our needs, and anyone who thinks the demise of the USPS will see a rise in their services offered, and without massive price increases, is a fool…