The Post Office should not be a casualty of the pandemic

May 6, 2020 | G. Michael Dobbs

I’m a news guy and I’m having problems with some of the national press I consume.

I get the fact we are all concentrating on the same thing: the pandemic and its effects on this country and the rest of the world.

It’s quite possible you may have missed the discussion about the Post Office in all of the virus news.

There has been discussion for the past number of years about the requirements imposed by Congress for the Post Office to fulfill covering its retirement fund. Many people believe the requirements will hurt the service and lead to privatization.

The Post Office isn’t perfect and I’m sure there are improvements in its business model and structure that could be made that would benefit its bottom line. It remains essential, especially for people who find using private services such as FedEx and UPS less than convenient.

I am in that group. I always use the Post Office. When I was a kid and had my amateur magazine, the Post Office was the way I distributed it.

When I co-owned a nationally distributed magazine back in the 1990s, again the Post Office’s services played an important role in distribution.

Today, when I order something online I select the USPS if allowed. Why? I know if they can’t deliver a package I receive a notice to go to a Post Office branch and pick it up. I have had some poor experiences with private services.

Like the other night at 9:15 there is a knock on my door. I asked who it was, without opening it, and was told FedEx. Really. I told the person to leave whatever package on the doorstep. A few minutes later I opened the door. There was indeed a package and the driver was back in an unmarked white van in front of my house.

It was an odd experience to say the least.

The Post Office and its financial issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic and there have been reports about its solvency and if the Trump Administration would step in to help.

Apparently, the president wants to help.

On April 24, The Hill website reported, “I will never let our Post Office fail. It has been mismanaged for years, especially since the advent of the Internet and modern-day technology.” Trump tweeted, “The people that work there are great, and we’re going to keep them happy, healthy, and well!”

The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration was considering leveraging a $10 billion loan to the Postal Service authorized in a coronavirus relief package in order to secure reforms.

United States Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, who spoke alongside Trump in the Oval Office on Friday, said that the department would “put certain criteria for a postal reform program as part of the loan.” Mnuchin said he looked forward to seeing the board recruit a new postmaster general and executing on postal reform.

“Trump then said he would ‘go a step further,’ demanding the agency raise its prices in order to receive the emergency funding.”

The Post Office has been an integral part of American government and business since the time of the writing of the Constitution. Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution, known as the Postal Clause or the Postal Power, empowers Congress “To establish Post Offices and Post Roads.”

The founding fathers largely agreed about the importance of establishing such a service. It has been proven vital every day since then for every one of us.

I hope the president is sincere in his stance and would work to assist the Post Office at this time.

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