If privatization efforts succeed, millions of people may well face a return to 19th century standards of expensive, private delivery services and limited USPS access.
By Kathy Toler
I’ve been a postal clerk for 23 years, serving my customers in a public post office in Gresham, Oregon.
As you might imagine, with the holidays fast approaching, it’s a busy time of year for us. Every day, I help my customers mail letters, cards, and packages across town and across the county. Even when we’re busy, it’s a joy to share a small part in spreading holiday cheer.
Because the Postal Service charges uniform rates across the country, I don’t need to ask you if a package is being sent to a home or a business, or whether the recipient lives in a big city or a distant rural area.
You can select a flat rate box that goes anywhere for one price, no matter what’s inside. Or if you pack your own gift, we price it based on weight and distance. The post office never charges you more to send your gift just because your grandma happens to live out in the country.
I’m glad that the United States Postal Service treats all Americans fairly, regardless of where they live or work. A privatized, for-profit company won’t do that.
If you took your packages to a private delivery firm, on the other hand, you might be hit with extra charges because of where your grandma lives.
On top of their base rates, UPS and FedEx charge more for deliveries to over half of all U.S. ZIP codes — hitting not just Alaska, Hawaii, and other distant areas, but also many small towns. Even suburbs of major cities — like Laveen, just eight miles from Phoenix, and Whites Creek, eight miles from Nashville — can draw extra charges.
According to new research by the Institute for Policy Studies, these ZIP codes are home to around 70 million people.
These extra costs already range up to $4.45 for a package delivered to a home in a rural area. But my real worry is that these extra costs are just a taste of what would happen if the U.S. Postal Service is sold off to private, for-profit corporations.
Last summer, the White House Office of Management and Budget recommended postal privatization in a report on government restructuring. And just in time for the holidays, a presidential task force just made recommendations that would slow down the mail, privatize large portions of the Postal Service, and lead to other service cuts.
If these privatization efforts succeed, millions of people may well face a return to 19th century standards of expensive, private delivery services and limited USPS access.
For the first 121 years of U.S. history, postal services were limited to those in cities. Farmers and other pioneers had to either travel long distances to cities or pay handsomely for private carriers to deliver their mail periodically.
Jacked up fees with for-profit postal system
Without competition from the public Postal Service, for-profit firms would likely jack up delivery fees even higher for the 70 million people who already live in areas hit by delivery surcharges.
And of course, USPS doesn’t just ship gifts. Millions of people rely on us for delivery of prescription drugs, medical supplies, and other essential items.
I think of myself as a public servant. I’m glad that the United States Postal Service treats all Americans fairly, regardless of where they live or work. A privatized, for-profit company won’t do that.
If the armfuls of gifts customers bring into my post office are any indication, that means holiday shipping would be a lot more expensive for millions of people.
Let’s protect the world’s finest public postal network, and together insist that the U.S. Mail is Not for Sale.
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The Right Wing’s Privatization Myth: Here Are 5 Ways Conservatives’ Free-Market Religion Can Destroy Public Goods
By Robert Reich
Privatization. Privatization. Privatization. It’s all you hear from Republicans. But what does it actually mean?
Generations ago, America built an entire national highway system, along with the largest and best public colleges and universities in the world. Also public schools and national parks, majestic bridges, dams that generated electricity for entire regions, public libraries and public research.
But around 1980, the moneyed interests began pushing to privatize much of this, giving it over to for-profit corporations. Privatization, the argument went, would boost efficiency and reduce taxes.
The reality has been that privatization too often only boosts corporate bottom lines.
For example, consider Trump’s proposal for infrastructure. …