Sunday Night Owls: Besides a bailout, Postal Service needs to expand its services innovatively

Sunday Night Owls: Besides a bailout, Postal Service needs to expand its services innovatively

Night Owls is a themed open thread appearing at Daily Kos seven days a week.

Adam Clark Estes at Vox writes—How the Biden administration can save the Postal Service. The Postal Service has to do more than deliver mail if it wants to survive:

[…] “Envisioning the post office for the future, you can’t just fix the artificial bookkeeping things and then expect the post office to magically be fine in its previous business model,” explained Porter McConnell of the Save the Postal Office Coalition. “I think it needs to be given the ability to innovate, in order to really start being a powerhouse.”

Put differently, even if Congress pulls through with a bailout and ends the prefunding mandate mess, the Postal Service still needs to evolve to survive. The Save the Postal Office Coalition, which includes 300 groups, including the APWU, MoveOn, and Color for Change, came together not long after DeJoy joined the agency and is calling for $89 billion in emergency relief for the agency in President Biden’s first 100 days. It’s also pushing for Biden to appoint a “postal czar” who favors postal banking and reform-minded leaders to fill the four open seats on the USPS Board of Governors, which Trump had left empty in the final months of his presidency. If Biden fills all the seats, Democrat-appointed governors would make up a majority of the board, giving them the power to remove DeJoy from office and reshape the Postal Service’s role in American life.

Some ideas for how the USPS could make more money are pretty basic: Post offices could expand partnerships with other government services and do things like offer driver’s license renewals in addition to passport services. Or they could stay open later hours so people have more time to mail packages at competitive rates (some UPS and FedEx stores are open 24 hours, while post offices tend to be 9-to-5 operations). After all, package deliveries are actually a rare bright spot on the Postal Service’s balance sheet. In November, the Postal Service reported a $2 billion increase in revenue year over year thanks to a nearly 20 percent increase in package volume. Package volume during the holidays was up about 100 percent.

Other ideas are more ambitious, but you can look abroad and see that they’re viable. The Postal Service has some of the internet infrastructure required for building a nationwide network, so it could theoretically build out a low-cost internet service in the US, which is something the UK’s Post Office does (for about $20 a month). Letter carriers already stop at most addresses around the country on a daily basis, so they could help provide basic caregiving services for older adults, as Japan Post does. And the USPS needs new vehicles, so replacing its fleet of boxy, gas-powered mail trucks with electric vehicles could help build out EV charging infrastructure by setting up charging stations for public use at post offices nationwide. This would cost money in the short term, but the charging stations could generate revenue for the Postal Service, while the more efficient trucks should save money in the future.

But the really big idea for how to save the USPS — to establish a postal banking system — is easier to imagine, if only because the post office already performs several basic banking functions, like money orders. Expanding that menu of services, postal banking proponents argue, brings nothing but upsides. […]

THREE OTHER ARTICLES WORTH READING

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TWEET OF THE DAY

Imagine not prosecuting the guy who raped your daughter in your own house because he’s all done raping her and now he’s gone anyway.

— Randi Mayem Singer (@rmayemsinger) January 24, 2021

QUOTATION

“Mostly these four years will be recounted as far-right brutality against truth, fact, rights and bodies, and that brutality and its consequences mattered. But that’s not all that happened since 2016. Grassroots movements for racial and gender justice, economic justice, climate justice and intersectional understanding of the relationships between these things grew in power, achievement and perspective.” ~~Rebecca Solnit (2021)

BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2017—Researchers: Obamacare repeal could kill more than 43,000 people annually:

David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandleris, both professors of public health at the City University of New York at Hunter College, Lecturers in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and founders of Physicians for a National Health Program, have a sobering message for the nation: repealing Obamacare will be lethal for tens of thousands of Americans every year. […]

Popular vote loser Donald Trump has already promised to slash Medicaid spending with block grants—there goes some 10 or more million people with coverage—about 21,000 deaths. No Republican has advocated for maintaining one of the key aspects of coverage under Obamacare—free preventive care, like cancer screenings. Everyone who has health insurance now can get those screenings, along with vaccinations and screenings for things like diabetes and high cholesterol. When they’re not available without copay any more, fewer people will use them. Fewer people will find out if they have potentially life-threatening illnesses because of that. Fewer people will get early treatment for cancers that might not have spread if caught earlier.

Just from those two things that we know Republicans say they’ll do—or not do—in a replacement plan, we know that there’s going to be less care and more expense for millions. That means returning to the bad old days before Obamacare, when tens of thousands of people were dying premature and preventable deaths.

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