Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Post Deserves Support

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. [Herodotus (484 - 425 BC)]
The Postal Service is deeply rooted in our history. It was established in 1775, thus before there was a United States of America, and the first Postmaster General was Benjamin Franklin. The quoted motto—most people believe that it is the USPS’ own—was actually written by the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, in praise of an even older postal service, a kind of pony express operated by the Persians; and Herodotus was celebrating the stalwart behavior of those forerunners of our men and women in blue. The motto appears carved into the stone of the General Post Office in New York City located at 8th and 33rd Street. And it applies to our own. Indeed it applies, all around the world, to mail carriers everywhere, one of the least noticed but ubiquitous living symbols of genuine civilization. For some statistics on our own postal service I refer the reader to today’s post on LaMarotte (here) where, as here, I advocate support of this venerable service lest the acids of modernity begin to eat away at it and we shall be obliged, in some future time, to reinvent it.

Postmaster General John E. Potter, in company of other postal execs, appeared yesterday before a group of postal clients, congressional aides, and union representatives. He urged several changes—including reduction in the number of post offices, elimination of Saturday delivery, and changes in the Service’s contributions to retirement benefits. The reason? The USPS projects losses of $238 billion over the next ten years.

The changes projected are neither dramatic nor threatening. Congress, for once, is unwilling to act. The unions are opposed, of course. So are the big postal customers. Nonetheless, we must become alert. I’ve become gun-shy. I don’t want another pillar of civilization thinned down, reshaped, or even painted a new color. Hands off the Postal Service! Subsidize it, dammit! Raise taxes, if you must. No way, José. Let’s not tolerate the nose of the camel under the tent flap. First you cut this, then you cut that. Pretty soon its privatized. Once we had a decently operating airline system and a coherent system of telephone communications. If it hadn’t been for Enron, we’d be bombarded daily with calls urging us to shift electrical, gas, and water suppliers. I say No! Fie on you, Progress. Fie on you, deregulation!

1 comment:

  1. Here, Here!!

    That pesky refrain for privatization is so tiresome. What happens t the poor folks out in the rural areas with an all private mail system? The same thing that happens to them now with medical services... they have to pay more for less...

    Some things should be supported across the board, throughout society. Why, or why are we always told how much more efficient the private sector is? Blackwater anyone?

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