Sunday, April 15, 2012

Occupy the Post Office

There are some 26,000 post offices in the US and the Postmaster General, Patrick Donahue wants to close more than 3500 of them to save money. Many of these will be rural post offices, apparently many of these post offices only do $50 worth of business a day and the post office could save $200 million. The USPS claims that 80% of the post offices lose money. But this is how business people look at life. If it can't make a profit eliminate it, whether it's health care, public transportation, education---anything.

These rural post offices are more than a place to mail a letter. For may people in rural areas, the post office as one postmaster opposed to the plan points out, "...often serves as a quasi-community center and information hub.". "Many of these small communities don't have banks. Many of them don't even have cell phone service. let alone the internet" he adds. The plan would be to move some of these post offices in to malls or big retailers and people would just have to drive to where they are.

The politicians talk of the $10 billion the postal service is estimated to lose this year and are opposed to any effort to bail out an agency that "hasn't done enough to cut costs" says Business Week. But the post office doesn't lose money, it spends it on the public it serves. We have to reject completely the capitalists way of looking at the world. For them and the politicians that represent them in the two major parties, everything is a commodity for sale and the business of has to make money. Firstly, the sums are paltry. When you think that every community in the US gets mail service that's an incredible success story. It is, by most standards, a relatively stable and well paying job compared to the private sector so it is a good project all round. A couple of hedge fund manager earned $10 billion in a year, so the income of two human beings, speculators as opposed to productive workers, would be far more socially valuable spent on maintaining a postal service in almost 4000 communities.

Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would go a long way to providing jobs and services at home rather than eliminating them. Money spent on social services is not a "loss", not for society anyway. The problem for the capitalist class is that its money out though. Public expenditure takes up space in the markets for private capital and reduces profit making opportunities. We reject the very idea that social services are businesses so profit doesn't enter in to it.

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