Last month, Jeff Bezos announced he was donating $100 million to the Obama Foundation, because he (ahem) “believes in the power of ordinary people to do extraordinary things.” Truly, the wealthiest man on Earth – with his monopoly built on heartlessness – really, really believes in the power of ordinary people.
This $100 million isn’t much to Bezos, but it could be a good investment in crony-capitalist paybacks.
Which brings us to the Biden administration’s “Build Back Better,” whose reconciliation package provides a taxpayer-funded subsidy to the hopeless United States Postal Service (USPS), this time in the name of “green energy.” Namely, it contains $12 billion cash for the federal government to buy electric vehicles, with $7 billion of that for USPS to “modernize” its fleet.
The Post Office has historically owned about one-third of all federal vehicles, ranking behind only to the DoD in terms of vehicle inventory. (Since the Biden administration gave the Taliban billions in military hardware, USPS may have slipped to No. 3.)
This is part of a $12 billion in total spending House Democrats have approved for buying electric vehicles for the federal government.
Electric vehicles are not perfectly clean, especially for the people who live near the plants that power them. Furthermore, throwing away a lot of perfectly functional cars – to feed a mostly obsolete postal service – is bad for the environment, too.
The bill is also being used to shift Amazon’s health care liability to the taxpayer, as part of the “integrated delivery network” the tech tyrant shares with USPS. Section 202 of the the Postal Reform Act (PRSA) calls legislation seeks to eliminate postal prefunding payments of its retiree health benefits, Medicare integration of USPS employees and service requirements.
That sounds fine, but the outcome will be blocking attempts to price mail and package products based on their actual costs, which will allow Amazon to continue taking advantage of the taxpayer subsidy it enjoys – or as they put it “serve every address in the nation!”
This won’t make the post office function better, but keep it on life support the dinosaur of a federal agency.
That’s what Amazon wants. Last year, Amazon organized a public relations blitzkrieg to push a post office bailout while President Trump was trying to fix it. The current administration has no such designs to make USPS functional … probably because Bezos “believes in the power of ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”
The post office’s business model is hopelessly outdated. The organization has not made a profit since 2006, and it has lost somewhere between $3 billion and $16 billion every year since, with a forecast of losing another $160 billion in the next 10 years.
Despite the fact that mail volume has dropped precipitously because of electronic communication, its workforce still includes 502,000 career employees and another 142,000 non-career.
While Congressional Democrats were making it rain with the CARES Act, they were sure to send $10 billion to the USPS money pit, which seems quite paltry to the $46 billion or $75 billion they’ve asked about before.
USPS will die without the support the U.S. taxpayer; the U.S. taxpayer will probably be OK without USPS. Enormous, substantive, profit-driven changes must be made for the post office to justify its continued existence.
There have been some good ideas from GAO, the Treasury, and others. USPS needs to align its costs with revenues, abandon mail products that can’t cover their costs, explore pricing flexibility, end mail delivery on Saturday (at least), and cut hours at postal locations.
The Constitution tells Congress to establish a postal service – it doesn’t tell Congress to establish a bad one. It certainly doesn’t tell Congress to launder money for a tycoon like Bezos.
The presence of Amazon’s headquarters right across the Potomac demonstrate that Bezos wants the government to keep working for him, not the other way around.
This bailout is another in a series of bailouts of the USPS that removes the agency’s incentive for any real reform. Even an administration as corrupt, incompetent, and unpopular as Biden’s should be able to see this is a bad idea. Reform the post office, don’t let this nonsense continue.
Jared Whitley is a long-time politico who has worked in the U.S. Congress, White House and defense industry. He is an award-winning writer, having won best blogger in the state from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists (2018) and best columnist from Best of the West (2016). He earned his MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai. Read Jared Whitley's reports — More Here.
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