The Postal Service has been a part of making America great by connecting communities, ensuring we are an informed populace and making sure we are all taken care of. The Postal Service has been for the public good and because of that, it’s been the target of private interests since the early 20th century. To really understand why the USPS is currently in $55 billion worth of debt, we have to go back to the 1907.
At the top of the century, major bankers like J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockerfeller and of the sort were pushing to centralize America’s banking industry so they would have control over the nation’s money. So they created a rumor that a prominent bank was failing, which created a panic and an eventual crash. This was known as the “Great Crash of 1907”.
The United States Postal Savings Bank was put into place in 1910 to prevent average citizens from losing everything if and when the financial system failed. And if we remember our history, it fails…like a lot! 1907, 1914, 1929, 1970s, 2000, 2002, 2008, 2020…also in 2021, 2022…and so on.
The Postal Savings Bank would be a public bank that would not only help the average working class but it would help fund the Postal Service in and of itself. The Postal Service has never been funded by tax payer money. I mean why would it! The Postal Service provides a service to the public, it’s not like it starts wars in countries we have no business being in! When the Postal Service starts killing black & brown people on purpose then we can start using Taxes to fund it! Guys this is America. Land of Freedom and Guns. If you wanted Logic and Understanding go to Canada!
The Postal Bank would be one of the largest Public Banks in the nation. And Public Banks are incredibly helpful since they save the unbanked and underbanked. 28% of Americans either don’t have a bank or access to a bank. These folks have to depend on Payroll cards that they can use for food or gas. This is similar to Scrips, which was currency the Mining Corporations used in their towns. It’s fake money to control the populace. 10% of Americans incomes go into paying fees, which includes $50/month in ATM fees. A Public Postal Bank would alleviate a lot of these issues.
But in 1910, the largest wealthy bankers trying to centralize the banking industry were looking to pass the Federal Reserve Act and called the Postal Bank a menace! After causing the crash in 1929 and taking American currency off the Gold Standard, the Federal Reserve needed Americans to trust their centralized banks over the Postal Bank. [SC 16] So FDR enacted the FDIC insurance and put caps on the Postal Bank and forced them to increase their interest rates. FDR basically bullied the Postal Bank by saying “Stop indebting yourself, stop indebting yourself!”
By the way is anyone even surprised when a majority of America’s problems come from an over-powered Banking Industry. They’ve kinda become the obvious villains in all the stories. They’re like the Team Rocket of financial villainy.
I get it, a bank within the Post Office sounds weird right? Postal Banking would be similar to how Triple A offers roadside assistance, car insurance, tourism help, medical insurance, elderly support, driver’s license renewals, cake baking classes…If Target and Apple can offer their own credit cards and financial services why can’t the Postal Service offer Postal Banking with better interest rates and customer care.
In 2014 the Post Master General made an argument for the need for a Postal Bank, but fell on deaf ears. At that time, Obama was more concerned with a White House Correspondents Dinner and the Republicans were more concerned over his tan suit! A Postal Bank would provide all the services that most banks provide at a better interest rate and would be able to provide benefits a lot easier and quicker by partnering with government agencies.
They also provide Retail Lending to help small business America grow. Could you imagine the state of small businesses during this pandemic if a Public Postal Bank could approve and grant low interest loans, with greater forgiveness and get them their money faster? It’s almost like we’d be a logical country that was run on compassion, critical thinking, real empathy and understanding.
After FDR crippled the Postal Bank, like polio crippled him, Eisenhower took the next step and said “No government organization should be in direct competition with private enterprises” and abolishes the Postal Savings Bank. This is why we can’t have nice things…literally. This is the notion that private enterprise needs to grow infinitely instead of steadily is the reason why America doesn’t have universal healthcare or education. It has to be controlled by corporate interests so the spirit of competition can be alive to kick us all in the teeth and then charge us extra for dental.
Have you ever played a game of Mario Kart with you friends? It’s fun right. You get to compete and throw turtle shells and banana peels all over place and people slip and we all laugh. But then it gets too serious and 5 minutes later, your friend is torching your gas tank so you don’t beat them to the Wendy’s. That’s what Capitalism and that spirit of competition is. It’s a torched gas tank and too much fast food!
There were commentators in the 60s talking about how the Postal Service should be privatized. And there are private entities that do some similar things to the Postal Service, like FedEx and UPS. In fact FedEx can now do pretty everything the Postal Service can because the USPS had to sign away First Class mail rights to them.
There was a slight bit of hope for the United States Postal Service under Richard Nixon. I know…but wait for it. [SC 18] Nixon was so terrible that the Postal workers went on strike asking for better pay, better hours and better work conditions. In 1970 the Postal Worker’s average salary was $2200/year, which is about $15k a year today. That’s just shy of minimum wage. Today the Postal worker is making $15-20.
Plus the job of a mailman was grueling. You try carrying sacks of mail up and down the hills of Pittsburgh or San Francisco for less than minimum wage and see what the frame of your mind is. Because of this, the turnover rate for the Postal Service in 1970 was 23%. The Postal Service is the second largest employer of American citizens, behind Walmart. Except people are far less dead on the inside at the post office than at Walmart. They are also largest employer of African Americans.
The Great Postal Strike of 1970 was met with brevity and calm by Richard Milhouse Nixon. Yes, because clearly you need men with guns to handle the mail. You never know when a letter from you ‘bubbi’ could explode with you know…love and hard candies! Why would you pay Postal workers better, when you can have armed gunman to attack your mailboxes and make sure you pay that electric bill on time at gunpoint.
The Unions weren’t behind the Strike, but the Rank & File went on strike anyway. They walked off and called sick, engaging in one of the largest wildcat strikes of our century; 150k letter carries & an additional 200k other employees. Nixon was so hurt by the 350k Postal Workers Striking that he went on national television asking for understanding! And the Postal Workers did respond with a message of empathy.
So why was Nixon fighting so desperately to get the mail out? Because this was during the Vietnam War and the Draft notices were sent out via mail. No draft, no soldiers, no war, and that means no erection for Nixon. If there’s no erections for Nixon how were him and Henry Kissinger supposed to showoff their special no-pants hug at White House briefings!? This was a time before viagra.
The Strike ended with Nixon giving collective bargaining rights to the Postal Service, but denied their right to Strike. But a compulsory arbitration was required if a settlement through collective bargaining is not achieved. They began running the Postal Service like it was corporation instead of the public service that it is! This isn’t particularly a major win for the Postal Service, but not a total loss either. Richard Nixon gave them a solid neutral.
As I mentioned earlier in 2006, the Postal Accountability & Enhancement Act is responsible for the Postal Service being in debt. [SC 24] Following under Obama sorting and trucking were sub-contracted and 65,000 postal workers lost their jobs! The triple whammy comes from the fact that this was at the height of email, which is now being slowly destroyed by Facebook messenger and Twitter DMs! And if you don’t think email is in trouble thing about how often you’ve heard someone say “Slide into my inbox”? The answer is never.
The internet also provided the Postal Service’s saving graces too. Most packages from online retailers were going through the Post Office. Now this means that they needed new equipment to sort and deliver these packages, but it was another opportunity for private industry to strike again.
Companies like Amazon have gotten into shipping and created their own delivery service. And the Postal Service is getting hamstrung by how it can generate income. They can only sell stamps, passports services and mail related items. But companies like FedEx and UPS can sell mail related items and retail goods. And if you’re sending a package do you really need a Kit Kat? The rampant need to snack every 10 minutes is also destroying the Postal Service!
Republicans have harshly said the Postal Service doesn’t deserve funding because it’s an inefficient business. But how can it work effectively if all the legislation written by both Democrats and Republicans are meant to stifle the service. That’s like taking your car to a mechanic to get an oil change, and they shoot the engine and claim you’re a bad driver.
From the abolition of the Public Postal Bank, stripping away the right to Strike all the way to pre-funding retirement for 75 years, the Postal Service has been a target of private interests. When you have a public service that delivers our food, medicine, consumer goods, the bills we’re all trying to avoid, as well as our ballots and information, the oligarchy will do everything in its power to bring that service to its knees and ensure that working class remains in poverty and debt.
The Postal Service can be saved if it’s allowed to do what it was intended to do. Reversing all the restrictive regulations would be a start. Giving the service the funding the it needs and deserves would another. Providing our mail carriers with the pay and benefits they deserve would also be huge. It’s about damn time we started preserving American Institutions like the United States Postal Service and dismantling unconstitutional ones like the centralized banking system that’s the villain in every story!
Krish Mohan is a socially conscious, Indian standup comedian and writer who regularly tours the country. He performs at small theaters, bars, comedy clubs, colleges, DIY and house venues. With his quirky attitude, charming personality, and intelligent humor, Krish captivates and engages audiences of all backgrounds, tackling hot button topics like race, religion, war, immigration, while adding an optimistic, philosophical & sociological twist!