February 20, 2013

It’s in the mail. . .

It mattered to the Continental Congress and so it became one of a handful of government tasks specified by the Constitution – right in Article I, it says the Congress is required ‘to establish Post Offices and Post Roads.’871950399_a8b6924e6b_m

And a postal service, the Founding Fathers thought – oh the irony – would be an excellent source of revenue for the young country. (Although Thomas Jefferson  disagreed, seeing it as just a source of patronage and expense.)

The United States Post Office became official on this date in 1792.

Mailing a letter 221 years ago cost six cents, more than a dollar today;  the price has only gone down because of inflation. When the first stamps were printed in 1847, five cents was the going rate – still more than a dollar today. We should be paying about $1.35 for a stamp, just to be on par with the 19th century.

499007672_0d81a8dd0d_nFor 175 years, the US Postal Service trundled along without making much news, except when stamp prices went up.  Than in 1970, carriers in New York City went on strike for more money and better working conditions.

Eventually, they got what they wanted, as well as the right to form a union, but in 1971 we all got the Postal Reorganization Act, which abolished the Post Office as a cabinet position and created the kind of weird quasi-independent monopoly that we have with Amtrak.  I haven’t quite ever figured out the purpose of these things, except in Amtrak’s case, it’s a given we will always be making up its deficits.

And btw, was abolishing the post office without a constitutional amendment legal? Seems a little high-handed.

Then, in 2006, Congress took  another shot at the USPS and since then we’ve all been asking  “Who’s killing the post office – and why?’

The fact that the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act  has a notorious  requirement that the PO fund its retirement accounts far into the future – to the tune of billions of dollars over ten years – to provide benefits for workers that haven’t even been hired yet is pretty generally known.  What articles on the subject fail to ask and answer is: Why?499087051_9f1270252d_m

Without going into detail about the various Congressional players responsible for the Act, let’s just follow the money – who profits from the demise of the USPS?

The answer seems to be – not surprisingly – the banks.  Take a moment and read this article – ‘Banks find opportunity in Postal Service woes’ – at Reuters.

And here is a reminder of why mailing a letter is a good option to have – it’s not likely to be hacked.



  1. Most interesting. I will reread. I am probably thought of as old-fashioned, however, I know that trains used to be thought that also. The future is trains and maybe the p.o. as well. And a lot of other stuff.


    Comment by Carol — February 22, 2013 @ 10:49 am | Reply

  2. and the banks go on, and the banks go on. great blog thank you.


    Comment by avery zia — February 23, 2013 @ 7:07 am | Reply

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