One public service that people really like and count on is the post office — which literally delivers for us.
Antigovernment ideologues and privatization dogmatists, however, hate the very word "public," and they've long sought to demonize the U.S. Postal Service, undercut its popular support, and finally dismantle it.
Their main line of attack has been to depict it as a bloated, inefficient, outmoded agency that's a hopeless money loser, sucking billions from taxpayers.
Never mind that USPS doesn't take a dime of tax money to fund its operation — it's actually a congressionally chartered, for-profit corporation that earns its revenue by selling stamps and services to customers. And here's something that will come as a surprise to most people: The post office makes a profit — expected to be more than a billion dollars this year.
Yet, the media keep reporting that the USPS is losing billions of dollars each year. What they fail to mention, however, is that those are phony paper losses manufactured by Congress at the behest of corporate privatizers.
Late in 2006, the lame duck Republican Congress rammed into law a cockamamie requirement that the Postal Service must pre-fund the retiree health benefits of everyone it employs or expects to employ for the next 75 years.
Hello, that includes workers who're not even born yet!
No other business in America is required to pre-fund such benefits for even one year.
To add to Congress' cockamamie-ness, the service is being forced to put up all of that money within just 10 years — which has been costing USPS more than $5 billion a year. That artificial burden accounts for 100 percent of the so-called "losses" the media keep reporting.
It's like tying an anvil around someone's neck, throwing the person out of a boat, and saying, "Swim to shore, sucker."
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.
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