Paid Political Letter: USPS in jeopardy, lend your support

The United States Post Office is in jeopardy because of concerted efforts by Republicans to privatize our mail delivery service.

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, enacted under former President George W. Bush, requires the USPS to essentially stock retirement funds for all their employees 75 years before they actually retire. It sounds like this might be a promising step toward ensuring a pension for deserving employees, but in a very short time this requirement has bankrupted an entity that was never designed to make the sort of profits required by private market interests, and no other company has this requirement. USPS is the largest employer of veterans, and rural towns like us can’t stand to lose these jobs.

In 1775, Benjamin Franklin was declared the very first Postmaster General. Before his leadership, colonial mail services were scattered and expensive. Mail delivery service was used mostly by wealthy persons, like lawyers and businessmen, to profit the British Crown.

After just four years Franklin was able to standardize the cost for carriers, and even made printed press delivery nearly free of charge. For the first time, the colonial working class living about the countryside could receive newspapers and communicate over long distances. This service strengthened the union, which before had favored states’ rights, and helped define the might of a federal government which led us to independence in 1776.

Today’s system still relies on Franklin’s standardization of costs by weight and distance, but the function has expanded dramatically. Oftentimes documents of importance, like a birth certificate or a merchant agreement, cannot be trusted to be sent electronically, and need to be certified in person. During a pandemic, mail-in ballots will ensure our democracy. It has been said a privatization of postal services would raise the cost for some, but not all.

It’s the ones scattered about the countryside that will be affected most, the very ones Benjamin Franklin was careful to include in his vision for our future. This can greatly alter the way we pay our bills, get our news, even vote.

President Donald Trump initially promised to support the United States Postal Service, but in 2018 he created a task force to audit them, headed by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin. Mnuchin will issue a final report due in late August 2020 over restructuring recommendations, but after sweeping tax reforms that favored the ultra wealthy, this administration has already declined to provide any emergency funds to the USPS.

There is much riding on the November election, and if you value the United States Postal Service as I do, please go to right now and request your mail-in ballot. If you live in a small rural town, like I do in Hayward, you’ve already had to use mail-in ballots, and already know that this is a safe and easy way to fulfill your civic duty. Let us triumph over this pandemic together and again be ranked the number one state in voter turnout.

Thomas Martinez

Hayward, MN