The U.S. Postal Service right now has a rare opportunity to show leadership on boosting the American economy and sustaining the planet.
Question is, does the agency have the will or backing from an all-Republican Congress to face down inevitable massive pressures from entrenched corporate powers.
More than a year ago, the Office of the USPS Inspector General recommended the postal service get back into the banking business since it could add $8.9 billion a year to its coffers. Just recently the American Postal Workers Union and more than 60 other labor and social advocacy groups jumped aboard https://www.uspsoig.gov/sites/default/files/document-library-files/2014/rarc-wp-14-007.pdf.
Simply put, offering such services could give poorer and less financially stable individuals and families an alternative to predators such as payday lenders and even large banks which tend to shun poorer urban neighborhoods. Most importantly, doing so would give the USPS a new foundation for financial stability.
A second area where the postal service could demonstrate a commitment to the future would be to phase in more ecologically friendly vehicles into its truck fleet. Right now the postal service is soliciting bids to replace its aging truck fleet and is looking for delivery vehicles with more room to accommodate more packages and amenities such as air conditioning, according to the Guardian newspaper http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/21/usps-mail-truck-fleet-replacement-bids.
Since the USPS needs so many new vehicles and the contract is estimated at more than $6 billion, the postal service should insist that the new delivery conveyances at least run partly on electric power and otherwise not harm the environment in this age of increasing global warming and climate change.
Of course, the USPS is likely to face nearly insurmountable opposition from both the banking/financial services industry on one hand and the oil and gas industry on the other.
And who cares about the poor and indigent or the planet when large business entities reflexively focus exclusively on the next quarter’s profits regardless of long term consequences? Given that mentality it may take years before any real change can take place in these areas.
But as the saying goes all politics is local and here the USPS may be forced to scale back on some of the 82 processing facility closures it began implementing in January.
More and more communities across the country are beginning to notice the effects of diminished mail service even in conservative communities like South Bend, IN http://www.southbendtribune.com/news/opinion/colwellpost-office-not-a-game-for-those-affected-by/article_076a8d6a-e869-5ebc-9d68-4a6b886febad.html.
Maybe if enough people start getting pissed off at declining service they’ll start to lobby their members of Congress and Senators who would be forced to listen if enough people—and businesses– raise their voices.
This is not beyond the realm of possibility. Just look at how massive consistent public pressure was able to get the Federal Communications Commission to preserve net neutrality, or access to the Internet for everybody.
Granted ensuring a more reliable USPS is not as sexy an issue as net neutrality but let’s just see what happens when nobody can get quick or reliable mail service anymore.