May 11, 2020

I live in the town where Benjamin Franklin (the first Postmaster General) came up with the vision of a national postal service available to all, and I'm furious that Trump is trying so hard to break it. So is John Oliver. Via the Hollywood Reporter:

John Oliver said on Sunday night's Last Week Tonight that it isn't email or the Internet that has hurt the U.S. Postal Service's bottom line.

In fact, he said, it's a law called the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 that was passed by Congress in 2006, according to some observers. The law requires the USPS to prepay health care benefits for retirees on a 50-year schedule, starting with an "aggressive obligation" of setting aside over $5 billion a year for 10 years. The law also put price caps on first-class mail, liming the Postal Service's ability to bring in more money.

After it was passed, the USPS went from generating a yearly profit to losing money every year; it reported a net income fo $900 million in 2006 and reported a loss of $3.8 billion in 2009.

Oliver cited data estimating that 74 percent of the USPS' net losses since the law passed.

"At the worst possible time, this American institution is on the brink of collapse," Oliver said.

Oliver also noted that companies like UPS and Federal Express contract the USPS to deliver packages in rural areas, and added that Amazon also contacts the Postal Service to deliver its packages — which, he opined, may have something to do with why President Trump has been critical of the USPS and unwilling to offer financial support.

"Trump is strongly opposed to giving the USPS sufficient aid, and many believe it's because of its relationship with Amazon, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, whose political coverage is hated by the president, who, as we know, makes policy decisions based on his never-ending game of 'Six Degrees of How Is This About Me?'" Oliver said.

It's not just Trump's feels, though. Republicans in the right-wing establishment have been trying for many years to strip the post office bare and sell it for parts, privatizing this important public service. (I've been writing about it since 2011.)

Because the sale of stamps is such an important revenue stream for the USPS, John Oliver has worked to design his own stamps to raise money and show our support. You can order them here.

All kidding aside, we need to stand up and be counted for the USPS. Ben would want us to.

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