From the October 2007 Idaho Observer:
Recent postal rate hikes foreshadow postal "END"
Recent postal rate hikes foreshadow postal "END"
Compiled from reports
Compiled from reports
Most people are just irritated with recent postal rate hikes. Postal employees take the brunt of this irritation though they have nothing to do with what is happening. The truth is that the U.S. Postal Service, like every other institution of value in this country, is under attack. Forces that want to diminish our ability to communicate are sabotaging the postal service to justify privatizing the U.S. mails. The article below will give you a new appreciation for your postal workers. It will also provide a deeper understanding of the pressures they have been under to perform in the presence of intentionally-promoted incompetence and corruption since LBJ set the planned destruction of the U.S. Postal Service in motion in 1967. We are all going to love the next phase of the plan: Small publications will be out of business, delivery will be irregular and expensive—but the junk mail will be mountainous.
" … Ever since President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed a commission to reorganize the Post Office on ‘a business basis’ in 1967, the postal system has become increasingly frozen into a defensive posture, tied down by demands from such groups as major corporate mailers, competitive rivals, and partisan politicos. There has been no place for bold new ventures of the past, such as Rural Free Delivery, Parcel Post, Postal Savings and Air Mail. If the Post Office Department had been responding to the profit-making demands of the market or to the political influence of large corporations none of these advances would have even been attempted." ~Ralph Nader
On Feb. 19, 1917, Congressman Oscar Calloway entered into the Congressional record (Vol. 14, p 29, 47-48) the intention of certain corporations including "the JP Morgan interests, the steel, ship building and powder interests and their subsidiary organizations" to select the 25 greatest newspapers in the United States for the purpose of controlling U.S. popular attitude regarding preparedness, militarism and financial policy and to suppress everything in opposition to their wishes.
Since then, the ownership of all national media outlets has worked its way down to six corporations: General Electric (a primary defense contractor and owner of NBC), The News Corporation (CEO – Rupert Murdock – owner of FOX), Viacom (all CBS outlets), Bertelsmann (Random House Publishers and BMG labels in 54 countries), Walt Disney (ABC, ESPN), and #1 – AOL/Time/Warner, a $31 billion corporation.
Are postal rate increases and consolidation an example of the Postal Service exercising flexibility and authority to meet its business needs, or part of a larger agenda to complete the privatization of the mail for the financial benefit of large mailers and for information control?
The idea of opening up first class mail to competition is a bad idea.
The USPS takes a loss for every letter it delivers to every rural customer in every small post office in the Union. The only way it pays for these losses is through mass city mailings and third class mail. If other businesses were allowed to deliver mail at whatever price they choose without being required to also deliver letters to rural customers at a reasonable price, the cost of a letter to rural Americans would skyrocket, and the small post offices which service them would close. This would be a terrible disservice to the citizens of our country.
In this day of legal wiretapping, the proposed taxation and censorship of the Internet, and Homeland Security access to our every computer keystroke, the first class letter is our last option for private communication.
USPS END program
Although required by law, the USPS has not sought input from regulatory boards or the mailing public about its "Evolutionary Network Design" (END) program.
Postal Service managers in Washington, D.C., are planning to consolidate a large number of mail processing and distribution centers across the country. If they succeed, parts of many facilities would be shut down and moved far from the communities they serve—in some cases more than 100 miles. The plan would hurt service and make mail less reliable for all of us—not just those in affected areas.
What exactly would the plan mean for all those who rely on the Postal Service?
Mail would be collected earlier and arrive later in the day—perhaps even in the evening.
There would be long delays in sending and receiving mail—in fact, there could be week-long delays.
Local jobs would be moved out of the area and small businesses would suffer because of the slower, less reliable mail service.
Many local postmarks could be lost.
Just think about what that would mean for America’s mail service. Checks arrive late, bills wouldn’t get paid on time and important medications that are delivered by mail could take longer to arrive.
In testimony before a House of Representatives subcommittee August 2, 2007, John D.Waller, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC)’s director of Rates, Analysis, and Planning, cited a lack of consistency in how proposed postal facility consolidations have been reviewed or approved and errors in analysis in post-consolidation reviews.
He claimed that USPS planners failed to properly consider service implications while making the assessments that are the foundation for the Postal END program; that the Postal Service has not provided a reliable estimate of the volume of mail that would experience an increase in the number of days delivery would take; has given no estimate of how to resolve issues of mail collection times and; has given no consideration to whether consolidations would result in mail--especially business mail--being delivered later in the day.
Another basic flaw in the Postal END program, Waller said, "was the determination to move operations from smaller plants into larger plants, rather than from less productive plants into more productive plants," and that "transportation was not adequately considered in the Network Development plans."
Waller also noted that planners overlooked a major change in mail processing—the pending introduction of the Flat Sequence Sorting machines–machines that "are huge, expensive and…not incorporated in the planning models. Consolidations implemented without considering the addition of these machines may now require unanticipated facility expansions," another unbudgeted cost.
"While the Postal Service should have flexibility and authority to adjust its operations to meet its business needs," Waller testified, "it must be accountable and transparent to all postal customers and be sensitive to the needs of the communities it serves."
The American Postal Workers Union has waged a vigorous campaign against the ill-conceived plant consolidations, citing the detrimental effect they were likely to have on service. The union sought to inform the public and elected officials about the network realignment plan—airing television and radio ads in some affected locations, and staging pickets and other protests. Nationwide, eight studies of specific consolidations are ongoing, while 37 consolidation-feasibility surveys have been terminated, placed on hold, or reversed since the first of 55 consolidations were announced Oct. 19, 2005.
With so many negative effects on the horizon, why would Washington even consider implementing such a plan? Their excuse is the consolidation of postal facilities will lead to greater efficiencies, but they have no conclusive evidence to support this.
The reality is that the plan was devised by lobbyists for big corporate advertising mailers. These corporations pre-sort their mail and this plan will make it easier and cheaper for them to operate. Big special interests get bigger profits while citizens get slower and less efficient mail service. And less efficient service primes the dissatisfied American public for privatization.
APWU President William Burrus described the Postal Service as "a private investor’s dream: a tax-exempt, public monopoly, with revenues of $80 billion per year."
Eager businessmen anticipate the opportunity to divide the pieces of the U.S. Postal Service among themselves, he said, for substantial private financial gain.
"Perhaps the most insidious example of the march to privatization," the APWU president testified, "is the operation of the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee, a panel composed of high-ranking postal officials and mailing industry moguls. At closed-door meetings, top-level postal officials entertain policy recommendations by the nation’s biggest mailers."
Despite "government in the sunshine" laws, Burrus noted, "the public is excluded from its deliberations, as are individual consumers, small businesses, and, of course, labor unions."
"At these secret meetings," Burrus said, "schemes are being hatched to convert work performed by the USPS to private, for-profit entities.
"The Advisory Committee Act requires that committee meetings be open to the public and that minutes of meetings be available. However," he noted, "when the APWU sought to send a representative to attend MTAC meetings, our participation was barred." During the same period, MTAC stopped posting its minutes on the Internet and refused to provide copies for public use, Burrus pointed out.
Burrus urged lawmakers to enact legislation compelling the Postal Service to bargain over the issues. Legislators should avoid substituting their own judgment for that of the parties who are directly involved and are best suited to make the decisions and compromises that are required. Congress must assert its authority and set public policy, Burrus said. "What is at stake is whether an independent federal agency that performs a vital public service should be handed over to private, for-profit enterprises."
The Washington Spectator, representing independent publishers like The IO, writes:"A major challenge we are facing is an unexpected and huge rate increase being pushed by the Postal Regulatory Commission. The cost of your first class stamps went up by two cents back in May, but the cost of periodical-class postage for small journals (rose) by as much as 30 percent.
In a sign of the times, the plan to reorganize rates to favor ad-heavy corporate magazines and penalize the independents was drafted by none other than Time Warner.
"It amounts to a reversal of 200 years of postal policy that featured low-cost mailing fees for publishers like us in order to encourage participation in America’s ‘marketplace of ideas.’"
Our work is guided by our belief that an informed citizenry is essential to our democracy. I don’t need to tell you that the stakes are high."
Christopher Shaw, author of Preserving the People’s Post Office and Ralph Nader call for Congress to direct the Postal Service to invite patrons to join an "independent nonprofit Post Office Consumer Action Group" to counteract the "inordinate influence presently wielded by large corporate mailers, corporate-funded privatization’ efforts, and rival express companies.The time is overdue for the owners of the Postal Service to have an organized voice."
It’s not too late. Please, take action now by calling 1-877-OUR MAIL
(From the September/October 2007 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine and www.apwu.org)
To get up to speed on the issue, go to www.stoppostalratehikes.com
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