Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Democrats and Republicans intent on dismantling the USPS, for the 1%

In this week's Business Week there is an advertisement showing how "Green" the United Parcel Service is and that it is a business with a social conscience.  UPS, along with the other global corporations that dominate human production, will save the world.

In the same issue (what a coincidence) BW has an editorial about the US Post Office, one of the most efficient social institutions in the world.  No matter where you reside on this huge continent, you can get your mail and more.

Surrounding the process of dismantling an efficient public service which crowds private profit-making capital out of the market place is the fear the politicians of the 1% in the Democratic and Republican parties have of the potential for a social response to their plunder that might not be to their liking; they are taking it a little slow and spewing out much propaganda about how much money the USPS is costing the tax payers.  This is part of their assault on social services and public sector workers.

The US Senate passed a bill on April 25th in its efforts to "reform" the USPA.  "Reform" when the 1%'s politician's and their media use it, should be a red flag for workers and the middle class.  Democrats and Republicans want to "stop the impending meltdown of the Postal Service which loses $25 million a day" writes BW. As I have pointed out in the past.  The USPS isn't losing money, it is simply returning to us in services, the wealth we create through Labor; it is a good investment of our money.  This doesn't mean that it can't be developed in to a more efficient institution, but not by the politicians of the two Wall Street parties. The 1% also needs to get their snouts in to the public trough in order to pay for its predatory wars and social mismanagement.

Part of stopping the meltdown is eliminating 100,000 jobs and revising workers' pensions.  The Senate bill also will "require" arbitrators (representatives of the 1%) to take the "USPS's overall fiscal condition in to consideration" as they interfere in negotiations between the capitalist state and the public---workers as providers and the general public as receivers of the service. Arbitration's put workers at a tremendous disadvantage as it ads another representative of the bosses in to the mix.

BW is disappointed that the Senate bill restricts the USPS bureaucrats, or "ties the USPS's hands" in cost cutting.  It forbids the elimination of Saturday deliveries for two years and makes it "tough" for the USPS to close some 461, mostly rural post offices.  The politicians are well aware it is an election year and as workers outnumber bankers and other wasters, it is workers' votes that count in their elections. Beyond this, there is the 1%'s fear that going too far might provoke social disturbances and unlock some of the anger and hatred of them that lies beneath the surface of US society.

In a reflection of the latent power of the US working class, the Senate bill also gives what BW describes as "de facto veto power" to local communities over any attempt by the1%'s bureaucrats to close their post offices.  But the 1%'s representatives are working ion the House of Representatives to counter the Senate bill by speeding up the elimination of Saturday deliveries and closures of offices. The "leading" House proposal would bar no lay off clauses and cut workers' health care benefits.  The USPS can't "continue to hemorrhage money" Business week says.

Where the money is

Here lie the roots of terrorism and cuts in our living standards. Source
But let's talk about hemorrhaging money. Look at military spending which is extremely hard to asses given all the secrecy, corruption and theft, not to mention covert operations that go on. This public trough is good to the 1%.  The corporations' wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost around $1.3 trillion and the total cost when medical care and other expenses are included are estimated as high as $4 trillion. The number of US bases protecting corporate interests around the world is also hard to pinpoint. Nick Turse, writing in the Asia Times points out, "There are more than 1,000 US military bases dotting the globe. To be specific, the most accurate count is 1,077. Unless it's 1,088. Or, if you count differently, 1,169. Or even 1,180. Actually, the number might even be higher. Nobody knows for sure"

Turse adds, "What we do know is that, on the foreign outposts the US military counts, it controls close to 52,000 buildings, and more than 38,000 pieces of heavy infrastructure like piers, wharves and gigantic storage tanks, not to mention more than 9,100 "linear structures" like runways, rail lines and pipelines. Add in more than 6,300 buildings, 3,500 pieces of infrastructure, and 928 linear structures in US territories and you have an impressive total. And yet, it isn't close to the full story"

Every thinking worker knows that our own state apparatus rips us off.  We know that we are governed by a bunch of thieves and that the corporations the 1% own pay little or no taxes.  But better the devil we know than the one we don't people feel.  We are a very isolated country with the most controlled and censored media of all advanced capitalist countries, which is why they want more control of the internet. Most Americans don't travel and the fear of terrorism is a useful weapon in strengthening that trend. The constant fear of foreigners, other races, other religions, other countries trying to take what little real freedom we have is what contributes to the relatively passive acceptance of this madness although here in the US the global resistance to the offensive of capital has begun. We will see a return to our rich working class history in the coming period.

There is also no major political or economic force that presents a real alternative. The 1% control both political parties, the Union leadership at the highest levels have the same world view as the 1% and simply plead with them to be nicer, less aggressive.  As I pointed out in a previous blog, the Letter Carriers' Union Leadership's plan for the Post Office is to make it more like a private corporation.

Apple, the world's most valuable company  pays about 9.8% in taxes down from  24.8 percent in 2009 and 14.7 percent in 2010.  This is "less than a third of the U.S.’s 35 percent top corporate income tax rate", according to Corporate Counsel adding that:

"Apple isn’t alone in the downward trend. Among a sample of 30 high-tech companies in the Fortune 500, their average effective tax rate has steadily decreased in recent years—from 23.6 in 2009, to 19.9 percent in 2010, and down to 16 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, collective profits of these companies rose, from approximately $98 billion in 2009, to $153 billion in 2010, and up to more than $181 billion in 2011."

The US is a "low tax" country for the right people.

We must reject the idea pushed by the 1% in their mass media that the USPS is inefficient.  Efficiency for the 1% is something that makes profit for them. If it throws 100,000 workers out of their homes, jobs and on to the street so be it. We must expand the USPS, the entire communications industry and the commanding heights of the economy through taking these crucial social institutions under public ownership and out of the direct hands at least of the 1%.*

The first position of the NALC and entire leadership of organized Labor should be no closures at to declare that the postal service doesn’t have to make money it is a public service; its wealth and success is what it brings to the members of society as a service.

There should be an immediate campaign for a 30 hour five day workweek to increase leisure time and as well as employment. The NALC/AFL-CIO should also launch a major campaign to unionize all workers in the communications industry including those involved in Internet communications and call centers and:

Expand the USPS—no privatization of public services
Take FedEx and UPS under public ownership and integrate them in to the USPS
End the predatory wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
No war on Iran with our money
Make the rich pay
Build a mass workers political alternative to the Democrats


1. The USPS should become a public Internet Service Provider with low fees of around $10.00 a month. Most of the Internet is already subsidized by tax-payers. Making the USPS an Internet Service Provider would be a perfect fit.

2. The USPS should contain Internet Cafes as additions to its local offices.

3. The cost of regular postage should be reduced and the cost of commercial advertising rates should increase.

4. The USPS should include local branches of a National Bank modeled on the State Bank of North Dakota.

5. Obama and the Democrats should be blamed for this massive attack of the USPS which I think might be our oldest public institution? **

* I say direct as even in a capitalist economy, public ownership is a step forward as it undermines the ideology of the 1% that claim the market is the answer to all things and integral to human existence.

** These points were suggested by Alan Maki I am not sure about the National Bank idea as I don't know enough about it but I thought he others worth including.

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