Saturday, August 15, 2020

Dismantling Government - The Postal Service Dilemma

If you live in a cave or a right-wing safe space you may not be aware of what the Republican party and their leader Donald J. Trump are doing to the United States Postal Service. 

Mail boxes are being removed, automated mail sorting machines costing millions of dollars are being destroyed and thrown into dumpsters, postal service leadership has been sidelined, overtime for postal workers has been eliminated and mail carriers are banned from making extra trips to deliver mail. Vice News seems to have fairly good coverage if you haven't been keeping up.

The new post master general Louis DeJoy and his wife Aldona Wos, who was appointed ambassador to Canada in February, own millions of dollars of stock in private competitors to the United States Postal Service. Louis Dejoy and his wife were big campaign contributors and fundraisers for Trump. Louis Dejoy was a Republican National Committee finance co-chair (along with now-disgraced Michael Cohen and now-disgraced Elliot Broidy). Steve Wynn (also now-disgraced) was the RNC Finance Chair. The Republican National Committee deleted the press release announcing these people's assignments in their political machine, but the wayback machine helps us fight the propagandists attempts to erase history.

Two streams of thought are converging - (a) the Republican parties long held desire to turn the United States Post Office over to for-profit private corporations and (b) the Republican party's decades long efforts to suppress voting

You can blame Trump but he's merely one symptom of a disease that infected American politics long ago. He's following doctrines held by the people who finance the Republican party. Prior to his election these doctrines were disguised using emotionally fraught deceptively simple words like freedom, individual rights, and free markets. 

Trump, from the Republican parties point of view, is fine on policy - his failures are rhetorical. Even though in his own estimation he knows the best words - the people who control the Republican party are afraid that he isn't using the right words to keep us peasants from revolting. 


Bernie Sanders has done us a favor by posting the policy platform of the group that has taken over the Republican Party over the last four decades.The following three planks from that platform are relevant to understanding what's being done to the U.S. postal service, and why it's being done, by the current administration -

  • "We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.” 
  • “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.” 
  • “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”

Very utopian, extremely radical and completely disconnected from the complicated world we live in. A case of ideology causing a break from reality while also allowing that insanity to be sublimated by those in it's grasp.


The Republican Party's efforts to turn the United States Postal Service into a private for-profit enterprise didn't start with the election of Donald Trump. Quoting from this 2013 L.A. Times article -

"In 2006, the GOP Congress passed a bill that required the Postal Service to fully fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years and to accomplish this within a 10-year period. Republicans are always insisting that the USPS be run like a good capitalist enterprise, but few, if any, private businesses could bear the burden of funding three-quarters of a century of retired employees’ medical costs over just one decade."

"In truth, the Republicans who crafted the bill were not interested in turning the Postal Service into a better business; they were seeking to run the post office out of business." 

"The post office may be mandated by the United States Constitution, as clearly as freedom of religion or the right to bear arms, but it does not fit with modern Republican dogma and, therefore, has been targeted for extinction."


People living thousands of years ago had highly developed civilizations that lasted for a time and then vanished leaving nothing but incomplete historical records for future generations. There is no reason to think that what we refer to as civilization in this century will suffer a different's just a matter of when. If I was a betting man I'd put my money on the climate crisis which the Republican party's decades of science denial has most-likely made insolvable according to people like Bill McKibbon. Never underestimate the power of the American people though...

Thinking about how the (current and soon to be worse) climate disaster happened, and if we ever could of prevented it given human nature makes an old guy like me sad, angry and confused...for awhile, life is too short to stay focused on things you can't control.

How about talking about money instead?

Money depends on public trust. If you have money backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government (as opposed to a money backed by gold or other precious metals) it is imperative that a certain amount of trust exists between users of that money and those who print it. As Wall Street thrives thanks to massive amounts of money being printed, and main street fails - the trust people have in the U.S. dollar will diminish. 

Some economists predict that printing an over-supply of fiat money will lead to hyper-inflation - which makes sense to a simple-minded person like me. I can't help but think there must be other impacts such as increasing the power of publicly traded companies at the expense of private enterprise (mom and pop or other smaller non-publicly traded businesses) leading to more monopoly power by corporations. 

Following the roaring 20's we had the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent national depression. The shared pain of that crash led to a variety of financial reforms to keep banks solvent and government projects to employ and otherwise help a struggling people. This time is different - the pain is not shared. People in glass towers making money from investments, divestments, mergers, acquisitions and other financial paper magic that have no intrinsic value to society may find public support dwindling. They retreat to their super-zips while the rest of the nation is left holding an empty bag decorated with the words freedom, individual rights and free markets courtesy of the Republican party.

Whether you think a fiat currency is good or bad, credit should go to the Republican party for creating fiat money in the United States. Our country changed from having a dollar backed by gold to a fiat currency during Richard Nixon's time as president in the early 1970's.


Some people decry the onset of big government as being an outgrowth of the New Deal. That may be true but a complex open society needs a sophisticated open form of government. 

We won't get that type of government through slogans like "no new taxes" while Republican congresspeople create tax giveaways for rich people in private meetings with lobbyists ala the 2017 tax giveaway. Or by the sincere sounding words of Ronald Reagan about cutting government spending while his budget director David Stockman said it was "like hogs feeding at a trough" to see the corporate special interest lobbyists manipulating the politicians. Here's the quote from The Atlantic -

Stockman participated in the trading—special tax concessions for oil—lease holders and real-estate tax shelters, and generous loopholes that virtually eliminated the corporate income tax. Stockman sat in the room and saw it happen. “Do you realize the greed that came to the forefront?” Stockman asked with wonder. “The hogs were really feeding. The greed level, the level of opportunism, just got out of control.”

I hold a complex open society requires a sophisticated open government (size is secondary, a small weak government does not necessarily mean good government and a large well run open government does not necessarily mean bad government). The conservative (whatever that may mean) intellectual George Will, citing the classical liberal economist Friedrich Hayak thinks a bit differently - the more complicated society becomes, the less capable government is in dealing with that societies issues and therefore the smaller that government should be.  In this video from his appearance at the Aspen Ideas Festival, George says that the goal of "American Conservatism" is, "to preserve a society  open to perpetual dynamic change." 

I can't help but think that some people who cloak themselves with a conservative label would be quite surprised to hear George's words about what he thinks American Conservatism really is.

I'm surely not objective but I prefer things a bit easier to understand. One thing I understand empirically is that the working class people I was close to as a young person - loved Franklin Roosevelt. Other people must of liked him, he was elected president four times. Maybe all those people who voted for him were misguided. Maybe so...but at least we could maybe agree that no matter your inherited ideology (and they are mostly inherited) it would be wise to occasionally ask yourself - is it possible I've been misguided?