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Take A Stand for Your Postal Service!

Updated: Jan 15

Today the Trump Administration attempts the final blow in an over 50-year long campaign to destroy the USPS, and to deprive ordinary Americans of its services and support.


In 1967, following intense lobbying efforts and pressure from corporate financial interests, Congress removed banking services from the Post Office, this despite the overwhelming success and popularity of postal banking--especially for working class families and immigrants. [1] In 1971, following the strike by Postal Workers the previous year, the criminal administration of Richard Nixon retaliated by ripping the Post Office out of the president’s cabinet and into a kind of private/public corporation called the United States Postal Service. This “new” USPS now no longer received Federal funding and was expected to “pay for itself” by selling postage and other products and services. [2]


In 2006, Republicans in Congress continued the attack on the Postal Service in two ways. First, they locked the ability of the USPS to raise prices beyond the Consumer Price Index, which significantly hampered their ability to raise revenues because it meant that--no matter the increase in fuel prices, healthcare, paper products, etc--the Postal Service could not increase its rates and generate much-needed extra income. Second, the law forced the USPS to prefund its retirement, pension, and healthcare for the following 75 years, which meant that it would be forced to take on a tremendous debt burden to meet these obligations.


These interventions on behalf of Wall Street interests have successfully forced the United States Postal Service into massive debt, and set them up for public humiliation and eventual privatization. [3] Without a doubt, should these politicians succeed in privatizing the USPS, millions would suffer; particularly people living in rural and poor communities. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of veterans, elderly, and people with critical healthcare needs would have the massive price increases passed onto them. Many small business owners would be devastated by the destruction of the USPS, as they would be forced to ship exclusively through private companies, many of whom will significantly raise rates in the wake of the USPS’s departure.


The USPS is also a major jobs provider here in the U.S. employing over 600,000 men and women in various roles and paying them good salaries with healthcare and retirement. The loss of this workforce (21% of which is African American [4]) would have disastrous results for the communities these workers reside in and would only serve to worsen the economic hardships many Americans are already struggling with.


In the midst of the chaos of COVID-19 and the upcoming November election, Trump has taken the unprecedented step of publicly attacking the Postal Service for aiding “fraud” by way of mail-in voting, this despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Voting by mail, in fact, goes all the way back to the Civil War and is currently used in many states, even those “red” ones, like solidly Republican Utah. These states have relied on mail-in voting for years and have had no serious problems whatsoever. [5]


Trump is willing to hurt any American, of any political persuasion, to frame the USPS as his scapegoat in case of his loss in the 2020 elections. This is an obviously craven attempt to undermine democracy and should be opposed by all Americans who believe in the Constitution and the rule of law.


A fully funded, fully staffed, and reinvigorated USPS could be a trusty defense against economic disruptions by allowing more Americans to stay home while receiving necessary medicines, supplies, or consumer goods. The return of postal banking could allow working Americans a chance to break free from predatory banking institutions and practices like “pay-day lenders” or high interest credit cards. The USPS already enjoys significant popularity among Democrats and Republicans (91% according to a recent Pew poll [6]) but realizing these changes could be so beneficial it would make the USPS untouchable, and off the table for privatization. This explains why Trump, DeJoy, and other wealthy politicians have conspired to ruin the Postal Service and not allow these helpful changes to bloom. In the midst of a deadly pandemic and vast financial uncertainty, we should be looking to expand Postal Services, not reduce them!


Here's what WE - together and separately - can do NOW to defend the Postal Service, its workers, and the public: write, call, and email your elected officials. Attend rallies and events in support of USPS. Better yet, organize your own! We can educate others about the truth of what is happening to this essential service. For our part, we at Northern Illinois DSA have begun a local campaign to preserve our oldest public service with three rallies. On Friday, August 21, 2020 from 4:30- 5:30 pm there will be two simultaneous rallies in support of USPS in DeKalb (at 600 E Lincoln Ave) and Rockford (at 5225 Harrison Ave), and on September 7, 2020 (Labor Day) we have helped organize a Rockford rally (10 am at Midtown) in support of the Postal Service workers and their struggle.


This is just the beginning but we intend to continue these efforts going forward. Join us in this fight!


In Solidarity,


The Northern Illinois Democratic Socialists of America




Sources

[1] Baradaran, Mehrsa. “A Short History of Postal Banking.” In These Times. 18 Aug 2014. Found at https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2014/08/postal-banking-already-worked-in-the-usa-and-it-will-work-again.html

[2] Burns, Rebecca. “In 1971, Nixon Passed a Rule to Doom the Post Office. Now It’s Finally Happening.” In These Times. 14 July 2020. Found at https://inthesetimes.com/article/us-postal-service-lawrence-swaim-covid-19-donald-trump-postal-clerks-union

[3] Cep, Casey. “We Can’t Afford to Lose the Postal Service.” The New Yorker. 2 May 2020. Found at https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-communications/we-cant-afford-to-lose-the-postal-service

[4] Prescod, Paul. “Defend the Post Office, Defend Black Workers.” Jacobin Magazine. 3 July 2019. Found at https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/07/post-office-black-workers-bernie-sanders-usps

[5] Yuhas, Alan. “How Mail-In Voting Works.” The New York Times. 18 Aug 2020. Found at https://www.nytimes.com/article/Vote-by-mail.html?auth=linked-google

[6] DeSilver, Drew, Schaeffer, Katherine. “The State of the U.S. Postal Service in 8 charts.” Pew Research Center. 14 May 2020. Found at https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/05/14/the-state-of-the-u-s-postal-service-in-8-charts/


Questions about how to get involved? Drop us a line at: northernillinoisdsa@gmail.com

Find us on Facebook and Twitter under: Northern Illinois Democratic Socialists of America


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