Nel's New Day

May 5, 2020

The Selling of the Post Office

For months, Republicans have fought the idea of voting by mail, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keeps threatening the United States Postal Service (USPS), perhaps because millions already cast their ballots by mail. Following is a piece by Sue Hardesty about the history and importance of this agency:

 

I grew up in the middle of the southern Arizona desert in a town of 1500, depending on the next birth or death. I still recall the thrill when I was 12 years old and was allowed to go the post office for the first time by myself. Everybody had to go to the post office for mail although larger towns had street delivery since 1863.

Once I even rode along with my Uncle Harold who had the second longest mail route in the United States. It was exciting until the afternoon summer sun heated our refrigeration-less car to 115 degrees while we traveled over 150 miles from one cactus to another. He was my hero, a keystone sentinel supporting the human truth that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Ever accommodating, Arizona mail had even been delivered by mule train. The post office in Peach Springs, Arizona, had a walk-in freezer for food deliveries. Social media, email, and texting have made an incredible difference in communication, but postal services still remain a major system to connect, one we can always depend on, one that provides a major stabilizing force in all our lives. Considering the tragic events around us, God knows we could use a stable force.

A bit of history explains how easy it is to lose one of our treasured foundations, i.e., even an actual Cabinet department. The USPS started in 1792, with Article 1, section 8, Clause 7, “to establish post offices and post roads.” Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service and got a whopping $1,000 a year to build the post office services from Massachusetts to Georgia. The Postmaster General joined the President’s Cabinet in 1829, but that position disappeared under Richard Nixon in 1971. A law changed the postal service into a part of the Executive Branch. That’s how easy it is to get rid of a Cabinet department.

Originally, senders didn’t pay for using the mail items; the recipient had to pay. The first postal stamps issued on July 1, 1847, cost five and ten cents, and in 1855, this revenue began to support the USPS. Under Nixon, however, the postal service lost its ability to operate operation under non-profit rules to serve the public good and instead was forced to operate on a business model to deregulate, restructure, and decentralize. The USPS had to implement business marketplace methods and values of cutting costs, streaming operations, extinguishing unions, lowering wages, reducing jobs, and most of all, making a profit.  A profit which, by the way, it already made and always had. Part of the business model was to change the post office’s work from “in house” to privatizing jobs through contracts and giving large bulk mailing discounts to businesses.

Under President Ronald Reagan, postage was reclassified as a “product” of business instead of a government “user tax” (1982), and increased private contracts to big business eliminated jobs and services while reducing assets. Changes in USPS rates and procedures used “outsourcing” and “selling off assets” to supposedly guarantee the “best use of Postal Service assets.” The shifts took profits from the post office and moved them to private businesses

So what happens to the money you and I spend for postal services? According to the 2010 OIG report, the agency paid out $12 billion: FedEx got the most ($1.37 billion) to provide air transport and delivery overseas, tech supplier Northrop Grumman got $494 million, and UPS got $95 million. The rest of the $12 billion went to outside rental payments, purchases, outsourcing, and contracts to private corporations such as consolidators, pre-sort companies, and mailers like Amazon–all losses to the post office and to you and me as we watch money leaking by the billions to our new “business partners.” And the rich get richer.

Donald Trump has decided to completely privatize the USPS, and my memories may be all that’s left.  A private postal system, says the White House proposal, would “deliver mail fewer days per week, shift to cluster boxes instead of door and curb delivery, adjust prices and negotiate wages and benefits without government interference, and shrink its physical and personnel footprints,” i.e., close post offices, consolidate processing facilities, sell buildings, and dump jobs. Lots and lots of well paying jobs. While charging more for less service. 

Big business, however, needed one more push to drive the USPS into bankruptcy in order to sell it off to private businesses, and George W. Bush rode the elephant into the room in 2006 to finish pulverizing the USPS. That was the year that Bush signed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), requiring USPS to pay an annual $5.5 billion up front covering future health care cost for retired workers for 50 year to 2056. This act pushed USPS into financial ruin, exposing it to a complete selloff. According to a report from the Institute for Policy Studies: 

“This extraordinary mandate, which applies to no other federal agency or private corporation, created a financial ‘crisis’ that has been used to justify harmful service cuts and even calls for postal privatization.”

Without Bush’s law, the USPS would be solvent. The post office revenue was $611 million over expenses even during Bush’s recession, the worst in 80 years.

In 2015, a CRS Report repeated the unfairness:

“No other federal agency faces a similar pre-funding mandate. Private companies that do pre-fund their future retirees’ health benefits don’t usually cover 100 percent of those costs in advance.” 

In 2019 the Postmaster General told a Congressional Committee that USPS “could not pay our employees, our suppliers, or deliver the mail,” under such a financial burden.

For the past 40 years our business-owned leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, have dismantled he USPS brick by brick and selling assets to big business. We complain about oligarchs as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, yet we go right on voting people into office who immediately sell us out to the highest bidder.

Business is important, but it doesn’t work as a model for operating any government. Roy Ulrich wrote:

“The idea that a businessman would make the best president—or governor or other political leader—is bogus. Some of the biggest presidential failures—Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover, and Andrew Johnson—were successful businessmen. On the flip side, businessman Harry Truman, considered one of our better presidents, was a failure as a haberdasher. Running a business requires different skills and managing a business.

“The entire focus of business is making a profit while government provides the foundation for businesses—building infrastructure, educating and defending people, and supporting industry. 

“Business leaders have no ‘separation of powers’ or ‘checks and balances’ while these are the bases for democracy. As a CEO, DDT controlled by snapping his fingers, but he’s had to watch the slow movement of the political world and been faced with compromise.

“Business leaders worry only about their own companies, but presidents are responsible to the entire world, not a finite group of shareholders, investors, and employees. The wrong words can drive down the stock market or cause military conflicts—even wars.”

This is not a new concept. John Adams stated:

“When economic power became concentrated in a few hands, then political power flowed to those possessors and away from the citizens, ultimately resulting in an oligarchy or tyranny.”

 Albert Einstein wrote:

“An oligarchy of private capital cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society because under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt stated:

“More striking still, it appeared that, if the process of concentration goes on at the same rate, at the end of another century we shall have all American industry controlled by a dozen corporations and run by perhaps a hundred men. Put plainly, we are steering a steady course toward economic oligarchy, if we are not there already.”

And from Bernie Sanders:

“This is what oligarchy looks like: Today, the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. The top one-hundredth of 1 percent makes more than 40 percent of all campaign contributions. The billionaire class owns the political system and reaps the benefits from it.”

Our government does not “give” us anything. We all pay taxes for protections and services, including the post office. Yet we continue to deny ourselves the rightful benefits for citizens, especially in times like these, by voting in people who side with big business instead of government, lawmakers who destroy us through the law while they take our taxes for themselves. Although we all complain about the oligarchic “rich getting richer” running the country, we vote for them year after year. I wonder which Cabinet department will be next. Interior? Education? Or what major service? Social Security? Medicare? Police? Fire? My bet is on Social Security. Anybody want to join the betting pool? Please, for the sake of us all, the next time you vote, Republican or Democrat, make sure your vote doesn’t go to just another business drone.

https://www.savethepostoffice.com/how-to-privatize-the-post-office-piece-by-piece-step-by-step/

https://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/five-things/the-u-s-postal-service/11433/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/23/10-billion-treasury-loan-usps/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/27/trumps-claim-postal-service-loses-money-every-e-commerce-package-it delivers/?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most

http://postalemployeenetwork.com/news/2011/08/post-office-makes-a-profit-congress-wont-let-it-keep/

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/04/07/lost-mail-coronavirus-era

February 25, 2018

Billy Graham Leaves a Devastating Legacy

Billy Graham, evangelical advisor to presidents for over a half century, died at the age of 99 this past week and will be buried on March 2. People are showering the dead Christian evangelist with tributes, but some of his beliefs are far from what Jesus preached.

Women: Graham criticized feminism and created the Mike Pence rule which advocates men avoid meeting, travelling or eating with a woman, other than one’s wife, alone, to prevent infidelity. At Boston Garden, he told women not to nag their husbands, keep their houses clean, and read a great deal to keep up with their husbands. Graham said that women should wear enough makeup to be pretty and not so much that husbands notice.

Graham’s Wife: When Graham’s wife felt the call to proselytize in Tibet, he told her that the Bible makes the husband the head of the wife: “Then I’ll do the leading and you do the following.” He moved on to harvest fields “more white” while she stayed in the U.S. to get pregnant and raise children according to a dog-training manual before they were sent off to boarding schools.

Civil Rights: Activists, not laws, should change hearts because personal conversions, not federal policies, change behaviors. His 1971 book, The Jesus Generation, praises people who reject government as a way to correct injustices. Of the 1963 March on Washington speech, “I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King, Jr., Graham said, “Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” “There wasn’t a major Protestant leader in America who obstructed King’s Beloved Community more than Billy Graham did,” says Michael E. Long, author of Billy Graham and the Beloved Community: America’s Evangelist and the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/22/us/billy-graham-mlk-civil-rights/index.html

Global Warming: In his 1992 book about signs that the end of the world was near, Graham suggested that businesses reduce pollution, but his 2010 version eliminated the term “global warming.” Government had no right passing laws to save the world for posterity, he claimed.

New Deal: Graham believed that helping people through government, a godless competition for churches, was going to take Christians’ rights and liberties.

Wealth: With a net worth of $25 million, Graham normalized ultra-rich pastors and the focus on riches earth for the clergy.

Pro-War: Graham urged President Richard Nixon to use nuclear weapons that would destroy the dikes managing North Vietnam’s flooding and kill over one million people. Even Henry Kissinger considered this war crime “just too much.” George H.W. Bush said that Graham’s presence on the eve of the Persian Gulf War helped him avoid doubt, “even for a second … (about) the moral clarity of our mission that January night.” With the next Bush, Graham blessed the next Christian “crusade” into the Middle East.

Anti-LGBTQ: Graham preached that AIDS is the judgment of God. Saying later that he didn’t believe that statement didn’t stop other pastors from repeating it. He claimed that homosexuality is a “sinister form of perversion” that contributes to the decay of civilization. He promoted conversion therapy that uses Graham’s rhetoric. In 2012, he paid for 14 full-page ads in newspapers across North Carolina to support the state’s Amendment 1 prohibiting marriage equality. In the ads, Graham wrote, “At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage. The Bible is clear—God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Anti-Semitism: Jews control the media and that was dangerous, Graham told Nixon. “This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country’s going down the drain.” Nixon agreed, and Graham suggested that if he got elected to a second term “we might be able to do something.” In White House audio tapes released in 2002, Graham also refers to Jews as pornographers.

Graham was used as a pawn by both business and conservative government leaders:

Publishing magnates William Randolph Hearst and Henry Luce helped make him famous, and financial and business leaders used him to fight the “socialistic” politics of Franklin D. Roosevelt that brought people out of poverty and starvation.

To elect Richard Nixon, Graham promised President Lyndon B. Johnson that Nixon, if elected, would give Johnson “a major share of the credit” for Nixon’s ending the war and “do everything to make you … a place in history.” Johnson promised Nixon full cooperation if he took the White House. Johnson’s Defense Secretary Clark Clifford thought that LBJ wanted Nixon to become president. Nixon sent Graham as an emissary to Johnson because he knew about their closeness. Graham didn’t know that Nixon was undermining a peace initiative during the last days of Johnson’s presidency.

About his anti-Semitic comments with Nixon, Graham said, “If it wasn’t on tape, I would not have believed it. I guess I was trying to please.” He always gave Nixon a pass, saying that “mistakes and blunders have been made.” The disclosure of Nixon’s wealth, however, and especially the small amount he donated to charity “surprised” Graham. The racist, foul, maniacal rantings on tape that made Graham physically ill, according to Marshall Frady’s 2006 biography of Graham, but Graham continued to make excuses for Nixon and claimed that he had become “deeply religious.” Graham blamed Nixon’s advisers because he was “just trying to protect” them. Frady reported that Graham eventually blamed “all those sleeping pills [that] just let a demon-power come in and play over him.”

Cecil Bothwell wrote about Graham as the father of modern evangelism:

“Graham’s message was principally one of fear: fear of a wrathful god; fear of temptation; fear of communists and socialists; fear of unions; fear of Catholics; fear of homosexuals; fear of racial integration and above all, fear of death. But as a balm for such fears, he promised listeners eternal life, which he said was readily claimed through acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s savior.”

Theolorigan Dorothee Sölle called white evangelical religion “Christofascism.”  Rev. Broderick Greer’s definition:

 “The perpetuation of a societal status quo in which Christians maintain power, frame the aim of Christianity as a ‘personal relationship with Jesus Christ’ and retain all the ills of white Christian society like patriarchy, colonization, and heterosexism.”

Greer added that the religion “has evolved into a hyper-nationalistic, militaristic and xenophobic corner of American Christianity” instead of a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Almost 20 years ago, Graham wrote:

“If I had to do it all over again, I would also avoid any semblance of involvement in partisan politics… there have been times when I undoubtedly stepped over the line between politics and my calling as an evangelist.”

He was too late in this decision. His son Franklin Graham, who controls the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the group legitimizing Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to evangelicals, has moved to the far right of Billy Graham. About DDT, Franklin tells his 6.3 million followers to “hold your nose and go vote.” He ridicules rights for non-Christians and LGBTQ people, spews hate speech, and calls for discrimination while raising funds for “persecuted Christians.” Franklin Graham claims to “love Muslim people” but adds that Islam “can’t keep you from the doors of hell.”

Sarah Jones described how Franklin changed Billy’s evangelicalism:

“As the father waned, the son waxed: first as a spokesman for his elder, then as an evangelical figure in his own right. Franklin, using the platform he inherited from his father, has defended Trump’s Muslim bans, promoted Russia’s campaign to outlaw ‘homosexual propaganda,’ and once accused gay people of trying to ‘recruit children.’ Franklin, not Billy, represents the evangelical mainstream now.”

The father wanted change by “politeness”; the son follows the style of DDT who “offended everybody! And he became president of the United States.” Franklin crowed, “Only God could do that.” Or maybe Vladimir Putin.

Billy Graham was a handsome man with a powerful voice who was said to have brought more people to Jesus than any other evangelist, a Jesus and a population filled with hatred, bigotry, war-mongering, and domination.

 

July 10, 2012

Congressional Conservatives Should Resign

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:58 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Tomorrow the House of Representatives plans to vote against the Affordable Care Act–for the 31st time. Because the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the law, they are taking another tack, to remove all money from the IRS to implement the plan.

Fortunately, the Democrats in the House are comparing “Obamacare” to “Romneycare,” showing Massachusetts’ success in its comprehensive health care reform.

Judge Richard Posner, a conservative on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, told NPR in an interview that he has become “less conservative … since the Republican Party started becoming goofy.” Over the past 10 years, Posner said, “There’s been a real deterioration in conservative thinking. And that has to lead people to re-examine and modify their thinking.”

In response to the right-wing’s vicious responses to Chief Justice John Roberts’ ruling on health care, Posner added, “Because if you put [yourself] in his position … what’s he supposed to think? That he finds his allies to be a bunch of crackpots? Does that help the conservative movement? I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, ‘What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?’ Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position.”

When Posner uses words like “lunatics” and “crackpots,” he’s apparently referring to the other conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Former leaders in the GOP are highly disgusted with the actions of the current House conservatives. Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) gave this advice last summer, recommending that lawmakers who aren’t willing to compromise should not serve in Congress. “If you can’t compromise on anything, go home,” Simpson told NPR. “If you can’t learn to compromise on an issue without compromising yourself, then you shouldn’t be a legislator.”

Former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel (NE) blasted Republican leadership for their “irresponsible actions” during the debt ceiling debacle a year ago: “I think about some of the presidents we’ve had on my side of the aisle — Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., go right through them, Eisenhower — they would be stunned.” Disgusted with the debt ceiling negotiations, Hagel called it “an astounding lack of responsible leadership by many in the Republican party, and I say that as a Republican.” Hagel added that the Republican party is too captive to the Tea Party movement that is “very ideological” and “very narrow.” He said, “I’ve never seen so much intolerance as I’ve seen today.”

Former Florida governor and Republican, Jeb Bush, said that the GOP is “short-sighted” on tax and immigration policies, which is not what the GOP mainstream wants to hear. At the same time, he endorsed President Obama’s philosophy about the economic “headwinds” from Europe and agreed with the president’s statement that both Ronald Reagan and his father, George H. W. Bush, would have a hard time getting nominated by today’s Republican Party.

Even Richard Nixon would have been disgusted with the current crop of Republicans as shown by his definition of “liberal.” In quoting Franklin D. Roosevelt’s definition of the word, Nixon said, “It is a wonderful definition, and I agree with him.” The definition? “A liberal is a man who wants to build bridges over the chasms that separate humanity from a better life.” The president who resigned before being impeached 40 years ago makes today’s Republican lawmakers look totally selfish and unethical.

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