Monday, December 29, 2014

Does the Postal Service Really need a "Major" Fix?

By Mel Carriere

Sometimes on my day off I like to get up early and skim through the postal headlines at Postal News or Postal Reporter for a topic that will inspire me.  Almost always there is some feel good story there like how a letter carrier borrows a neighbor's ladder to save an elderly person trapped in a second story bedroom, or how an entire post office adopts a family of children when the mother is being treated for life-threatening cancer.  These sites are full of stories from around the country demonstrating that postal employees are not the stodgy, heartless, self-entitled bureaucrats that certain hostile members of the public like to paint us as being, usually with a postal-destroying agenda in mind.

But then there is also usually a piece written by some poor misguided clown of a reporter either because he or she is completely ignorant of the United States Postal Service, or because the editorial policy of that paper is bought and paid for by right wing interests that want to see the post office dead and buried so they can gouge the public for the same service we provide at a very reasonable cost.

I came across one such link this morning to a Denver Post article entitled "US Postal Service needs a major fix."  It's by-line was simply "The Denver Post editorial staff," which instantly alerts you it is a piece of garbage ordered by the big shots upstairs that no one dares sign their name too.  Nobody on that paper wants to piss off their mailman, it seems.  The article was also filled with annoying flash movie advertisements that completely froze my computer for a good two minutes, but I guess that is to be expected.  Like all of us struggling journalistic enterprises, the Denver Post has to get its money from wherever it can, especially when they keep spitting out crappy articles like this.

These pieces always start off with some warm and fuzzy fluff notes about how the Postal Service has been braving the weather and neighborhood dogs for years, blah blah blah, just to show people how they really love the post office and are only putting this information out there for the good of the American public; out of completely altruistic motives god bless 'em.  This pro-postal cheerleading is designed to get us to drop our guard.  But it doesn't take long for Mr. "Editorial Staff" to bare its ugly teeth and unveil its real agenda.

By paragraph 3 the article is hinting ominously to its readership that a taxpayer bailout will soon be necessary if something is not done.  At least it acknowledges that Congressional interference has brought the organization to the brink of insolvency, I must admit, but then it slips in a very sly, underhanded sentence about our "outdated business model" that really amps up my blood pressure.

What exactly does "outdated business model" mean?  What are we doing besides delivering American's mail and packages that is so outdated?  This is very sneaky, insidious language that if you read through the lines is actually saying "the postal service is truly outmoded and anachronistic, but I guess we have to keep it around awhile because everybody still loves to see the happy, whistling mailman walking down the street in sunshine, rain and snow even if he is not doing anything important."

Toward the end of the article comes the real agenda, which of course is putting an end to Saturday delivery.  With the arrival of a Republican majority in Congress, the newspaper bosses pulling the strings of Mr. "Editorial Board" are trying to raise consciousness again for something that nobody wants except for postal competitors scheming to put us under. For this purpose, the article advises Congress to take another look at the "Carper-Coburn" bill.  It then adds that ending Saturday delivery has been a sticking point with lawmakers, after which it reminds us of another sticking point, which is, and I will quote directly, "...the thought that the USPS might shut down some lightly-patronized post offices.  Heaven forbid!"

This was the comment that really rankled me.  Here we see the brute exposed for the ugly, snarling beast that it really is; its anti-postal fangs completely exposed and dripping hungrily.  Lightly-patronized post offices?  Are you kidding Mr. Editorial Board?  We had one such "lightly-patronized" post office closed here that was right in the heart of San Diego and always had lines backed out the door.  But because it was in a poorer neighborhood it apparently didn't have the political muscle behind it to stay open, which I think is the true deciding factor of whether a post office stays or goes.  How wealthy are the patrons, and how many friends do they have in Congress?  The quantity of customers has little, if anything, to do with it.

The article closes by saying that Congress needs to give the Postal Service a fighting chance to deliver for years to come.  How sweet.  First they say we have an "outdated business model," but then they claim that Congress should continue to support an organization that is completely antiquated.  These contradictory statements don't make any sense, and I think show you more than anything with the whom the true sympathies of "Mr. Editorial Board" lie.

Stories like this are infinitely more creepy and dangerous than those that just straight up attack the post office.  They are like a virus whose toxic feelers wriggle their way into the public mind through innocent, unexpected means, then grow slowly in until they reach fatal levels.

The point I am trying to make in exposing this article for what it really is, I think, is that we have to be on the lookout for wolves wearing sheep's clothing, both for the protection of our jobs and for the protection of the American public we serve.

How does an "Editorial Board" write an article, by the way?  They say a camel is a horse designed by a committee.  This particular monstrosity is something similar, I think.

The offending article in question can be consulted at:

The photo above, which has absolutely nothing to do with anything but I thought was kind of funny and sweet, is from my personal collection.

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