Since the postal privatization lobby can’t ram legislation through Congress, they’re apparently resorting to subtler, more gradual and below the line methods to get what they want. Even though a massive selloff of the USPS isn’t happening right now more and more evidence of this is creeping up gradually.
The most blunt example of Congressional legislative failure comes from Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA). For years he has offered postal reform bills heavy with privatization schemes he knows have no chance of passing. He can’t even get them out of the House. His latest attempt came in early May.
But maybe the efforts of Issa and others are just a decoy for a grand plan for privatization that even the U.S. Postal Service is going along with, if not actively promoting.
The postal service’s much criticized venture to sell postal products and services through some Staples big box office supply stores was not the first of its kind.
As far back as 2011, the USPS kicked off its Village Post Office program through in “convenient locations” in rural communities across the country. VPOs offer such services as post office boxes, forever stamps, pre-paid priority mail envelopes and a mail collection boxes.
Those locations include local businesses, public libraries and are run by the operators of those institutions. Sounds ok, but it’s worth noting that these places don’t offer the full range of services available at post offices and are staffed by non-postal employees.
The USPS is not stopping in less populated areas. Just this week it opened two VPOs in public libraries in Kansas City http://www.kshb.com/money/business-news/us-postal-service-opening-two-new-post-offices-in-kansas-city-public-libraries.
Twenty eleven was also the year when the USPS began reducing service by closing post offices and mail distribution facilities across the country despite public resistance in many of those communities. The postal service embarked on this campaign ostensibly to save money but was curiously heedless the public’s demands and need for their services.
You could say the USPS is the oldest public utility in the country. It therefore should be treated as such and not offered to the highest bidder. This argument is at the heart of the controversy surrounding the Federal Communications Commission’s recent decision to gut net neutrality, the concept that the web should be open to everyone, not only to those well-heeled corporations that can afford to pay for it.
In other words, advocates of net neutrality are fighting desperately for the same universal service the Constitution guarantees the U.S. Postal Service.
Because of the pervasiveness of the Internet in the world today the net neutrality fight is not likely to go away soon and both sides are likely to fight fiercely. But if private interests can usurp the Web as they seem poised to do right now who’s to say they’re not gonna try to speed up their efforts in the much less glamorous but equally necessary world of snail mail?