Overdue Post Office Reform

The Postal Service’s recent history of five price hikes since 2020, ongoing service delivery issues, and persistent declines in mail volume highlight the urgent need for attention to its business model. A group of U.S. House Democrats, including Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), emphasized the significance of swiftly filling vacant seats on the Postal Service Board of Governors in a letter to President Joe Biden. Signed by 80 Democratic lawmakers, the letter stresses the importance of selecting board members who will prioritize lowering costs for all Americans and restoring the Postal Service as a public service accessible to everyone, not just those able to afford expensive specialty services.

With the recent departure of Postal Governors Lee Moak and William Zollars, the letter urges Biden to promptly nominate two new members to ensure uninterrupted service for the American public. The lawmakers emphasize the necessity of appointing individuals committed to enhancing accessibility and affordability of postal services.

Highlighting concerns over the impact of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year austerity plan, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) previously called for an investigation into its effects. Critics argue that DeJoy’s plan, supported by Republicans including former President Donald Trump, aims to privatize the Postal Service. DeJoy’s close ties to Trump, including significant campaign donations, raise further questions about his intentions and the direction of the Postal Service.

A statement from Krishnamoorthi’s office criticized DeJoy’s leadership, citing increased costs and decreased service quality, particularly affecting rural communities, small businesses, seniors, and tribal areas. The statement underscores the negative impact on those who rely on the Postal Service for personal and business correspondence.

More thoughts on What It Takes to Beat the Pundits and Keep Control of This Congress

At our core, this nation is a tolerant and forgiving people. Take into account how far America has come in recognizing people based on their value whether it is in music, motion pictures, sports, television personalities, doctor, and occupation after occupation. People are elected based on factors other than race, ethnic origin, or gender preference.

Americans, on the whole, agree with Supreme Court decisions that represent changing values in the nation.

 

Kevin McCarthy, the blowhard who represents my Congressional district has warned that if the Republicans get a majority in the next Congress “some liberal lawmakers will need the approval of a majority to keep those positions in the future.”

What Democrats need to do is deliver on the historic opportunity to renew our American infrastructure. Adds 2 million jobs per year over the next decade, the majority of the jobs created don’t require a college degree. The cornucopia of good things to come from passing this legislation includes the health and safety of communities, tackling the climate crisis, and creating opportunity by:

Putting pipefitters and plumbers to work replacing lead water pipes so every child and American can drink clean water. includes $55 billion to replace lead water pipes, marking the largest investment in clean drinking water in our nation’s history.

  • Safer roads and highways
  • More accessible public transit
  • Modernizing our transit systems, transforming rail, roads, bridges, public transit, and modernizing our ports and airports and freight rail.
  • Roads, bridges, and transit: includes $110 billion to revitalize America’s roads, bridges, and highways.$110 billion to rebuild 173,000 miles of roads and 45,000 bridges.
  • Manufacturing solar panels, wind farms, batteries, and electric vehicles to grow clean energy supply chains we can export to the world.
  • Electrifying transportation by building out the first-ever national network of charging stations so families can travel coast-to-coast in electric vehicles.
  • Making high-speed internet affordable and available for every household in America. Stronger access to high-quality, high-speed internet. $65 billion to expand broadband internet access, particularly in rural areas.
  • Constructing, operating, and managing indoor hydroponic farms, helping to feed America, being able to grow food closer to population centers.
  •  Replacing synthetic nitrogen that farmers have been using with microbial technology that supplies the daily nitrogen plants need.
  • $50 billion to make our communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks.
  • Lowering drug pricea. s A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 83 percent of the public supports allowing the government to lower drug prices.

 America’s major health problems are the pandemic and its mutants that are overcrowding hospitals and many states and causing other health care, including heart disease and surgery to be postponed. ICU beds are in short supply. Rural health care is suffering from the closing of at least 176 rural hospitals have closed since 2005 because it is not profitable for hospitals to operate in low-population areas.

Democrats need to do a better of messaging in order to tell the American public how it will benefit from the infrastructure bills and pave the way for a new American century

 

 

 

 

 

SOS the US Post Office is in Political Trouble

The post office cut back its service with the rationale this is what it needs to do to survive. At the same time, postage has risen 7.2 percent in the past 12 months, thanks in part to a three-cent increase in first-class stamps in August 2021. The U.S. Postal Service also raised the price of packages delivered by priority mail, priority mail express, and first class by between 25 cents and $5 per package, depending on weight and where the packages are going,

The answer is not for the post office to do less but to do more. There is a role for the post office for years to come. The fact is having a postal system is embedded in U.S. Constitution and legislation.

The U.S. postal system precedes the creation of the country by one year. It was created in 1775 and Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General by the Continental Congress. Then the Constitution provided in Article 1, “Congress shall have the power to establish Post Offices and Post Roads.”

The implementing legislation is codified in Title 39 of the U.S. Code. It states:

“The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people.”

It’s no secret that the Postal Service, as much of the infrastructure in this country, has been under assault by those who are ideologically predisposed to dismiss the necessity of a functioning, well-managed government.  They would like to privatize the postal system, the national parks, the schools, the railroad, even roads, and bridges. For them, these public infrastructures are merely targets of opportunity, another way for the few to profit at the expense of the many.  By disregarding and undermining the value of public infrastructure at the expense of domestic tranquility and the promotion of the general welfare, they do a great disservice to the country. The postal system has been a target for generations.

The process of reducing the post office began in the summer of 2020 when officials told union officials that management was getting rid of 671 sorting machines, about 10% of the machines in the country. The sorters were the kind that handled letters and postcards,  and large envelopes. Mailboxes have been removed, overtime pay cut, and experienced managers were removed or reassigned.

American soldiers around the world depend upon mail from home; seniors and veterans get medicine by mail; unemployment checks go out by mail. The post office remains part of the structural backbone of the nation.

Our need for a post system evolves. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y has proposed the Postal Banking Act, which would make retail banking services available at all U.S. Postal Service locations and other services including small dollar checking and savings accounts; transactional services including debit cards, cash machines, bill payments and online services. People with low incomes who otherwise do not have a bank would benefit.

Postal banking previously existed in the U.S.  Known as “poor man’s banks,” post offices offered a number of financial services between 1911 and 1966, including savings accounts with modest interest rates. Postal banking was particularly needed during the Great Depression when many commercial banks failed.

Yes, the existing network of some 31,000 post offices in metro neighborhoods and small towns across America are perfectly situated and able to provide basic banking services to the one-out-of-four of us who don’t have or can’t afford bank accounts. The giant banking chains ignore these millions, leaving them at the mercy of check-cashing exploiters and payday loan sharks.

 

The Post Office can offer simple, honest banking, including small-dollar checking and savings accounts, very-low-interest consumer loans, low-fee debit cards, etc.

 

The goal of postal banking is not to maximize corporate profits, but public service. Moreover, there’s nothing new about this. Our post offices served as banks for millions of us until 1967, when Wall Street profiteers got their enablers in Congress to kill the competition.

 

Many nations offer postal banking. In Spain Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, post offices act as agents for banks.  In the United Kingdom, the post office has an exclusive partnership with the Bank of Ireland to offer bank accounts to customers. Germany’s postal bank is more than a century old, but over the last 25 years it has been largely privatized and Postbank offers financial services at more than 4,500 post office branches. as well as 1,100 branches of Duetsch Bank. In Italy, the post office has offered savings accounts for nearly 140 years. A subsidiary of Morocco’s post office offers limited banking license to serve lower-income consumers. The post offices in China France and Japan all hold universal banking licenses, and they all compete against private-sector lenders in a wide range of product categories.

For most people, banking is as integral to daily life as shopping at the grocery store and visiting the dentist. One in 10 Americans is unbanked, that is not having a savings or checking account. These individuals lack access to safe, secure, and affordable banking services and instead rely on fringe financial services such as check cashing, payday loans, pawn shop loans, and tax refund advances. Another 24.2 million households were considered “underbanked” in 2017, meaning they had a bank account but also obtained financial products or services outside of the banking system.

For the “unbanked,” expanding the services of the U.S. post office to offer will be a godsend to millions of unbanked households.

Postal banking will in time increase revenue for the post office.  Small-dollar loans for consumers that offer low fees and low-interest rates can replace payday loans which are extraordinarily expensive with annual percentage rates near 400 percent and help keep the poor “poor.”

Mehrsa Baradaran, author of “How the Other Half Banks” and “The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap” recently authored a report stating three key improvements to our current banking system that postal banking could accomplish:

  • “Provide consumer financial services to underbanked communities, and help vulnerable populations achieve financial security and build savings;
  • Create a public option to compete with private banks; and
  • Strengthen the USPS, a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure.”

Serving Americans in new and needed ways is a win-win for people and the post office. The big banks will continue to do well and only those who bleed the poor will be left out.

According to documents obtained by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) via a Freedom of Information Act, Dejoy reportedly recused himself from agency decisions that might have affected the performance of his former freight transportation company XPO Logistics. However, the Postmaster General opted out of divesting from the firm altogether, opening him up to a blatant conflict of interest.

Last year DeJoy announced that he would formally divest from XPO in order to preclude any conflicts of interest from arising. At the time, CREW suggested that the nature of the divestment might be a “sham,” largely because DeJoy transferred his assets to his adult children, who could then return those assets to their father after he leaves government.

Also under scrutiny are a series of trades made by DeJoy last June, just a month after he joined the administration. The postmaster general specifically bought $50,000 and $100,000 in stock options for Amazon.

In October, DeJoy again announced a set of policies that would “result in serious delays and the degradation of service for millions,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The agency is expected to apply steep price hikes on commercial and domestic retail packages, as well as slow first-class mail transit by 30%.

The post office’s problems are worsened by the announcement that the  USPS filed with the Postal Rate Commission a very large postage rate increase.

However, the Postal Service Reform Act (H.R. 3076) now before Congress
will help stabilize USPS in two ways, by:

    • Eliminating the unfair requirement that USPS pre-fund employee retiree health care costs in advance.
    • Codifying mail and package delivery six days a week.
    • maximize future employee participation in Medicare.

The Postal Service Reform Act passed in the Senate 79 to 19.

We Have a New President

 

As we turn this corner in our history, I have decided to rename this site to express the hope I and others have in the Biden-Harris Administration.

Within a matter of a day or two, the new name of the site will be

ToMendANation. 

I have added incredible content to the Putin’s Pet blog – let there be no doubt, we had the Manchurian Candidate in the White House.  Now he faces humiliation, possible financial liquidation, and criminal charges.

Who do we have to blame but ourselves? As Voltaire reflected, if someone has the ability to get you to believe absurdities (Think Qanon); then they have the ability to get you to commit atrocities, like murdering people and storming the capitol.

Trump has been a uniquely destructive figure, violating every norm, insulting every opponent, and sowing havoc across the nation.”

What do you do with a six year old in the White House?

Who now decrees that Joe Biden must prove he received 80 million legitimate votes. He said on Sunday, November 29 “It’s not like you’re going to change my mind. In other words, my mind will not change in six months. There was tremendous cheating here,” Trump told Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures” in his first television interview since Election Day.

This constitutes a high crime in that it is undermining the electoral process and democratic norms. Fair elections are the foundation of our democracy. He has violated state laws by calling and encouraging state officials to change the election results.

I imagine myself storming the White House with thousands of others to remove him from the building, but mob rule is not the answer.  The answer is IMPEACHMENT and his removal from office before the first of the year. If necessary, obstruction of justice may be added to the charges, allowing John Bolton to testify. It’s time to draw a line on a person who has already been impeached,  has been derelict in performing his duties as commander in chief, has twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits.

 “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised … The November 3 election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double-checking the entire election process before finalizing the result.”

— Joint statement of federal, state and local officials to counter election disinformation

 

Here is another explanation of Trump’s behavior:

Professor William T. Kelly, who taught at the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, said

“Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.”

He further elaborated that Trump was arrogant and thought that he knew everything already. Obviously, he hasn’t changed since his college days.

Trump does not understand this. He assumed the presidency with little knowledge of government. In the four years that he has been in office, he has learned very little. Part of that is due to his age. At 74, he is very set in his ways and his views. But mostly he has not learned because he is not very smart.

Trump, in his ignorance, has tried to run the government as he ran his company. He makes the rules and everybody is supposed to follow those rules unquestioningly. Loyalty is paramount. If anyone says or does anything that can be perceived as disloyal, they are fired.

Trump does not understand this. He assumed the presidency with little knowledge of government. In the four years that he has been in office, he has learned very little. Part of that is due to his age. At 74, he is very set in his ways and his views. But mostly he has not learned because he is not very smart

All of Trump’s actions will further inflame an already divided country once Biden is President.

Destroying the Environment

During his time in office, Trump has undone or weakened up to 70 rules and regulations aimed at protecting the environment, while another 30 policy changes are still underway.

Meanwhile, fires are burning at destroying forests and property at record levels, and weather patterns are aggravating our troubled economy. Six of the 7 largest wildfires in California history have all burned in 2020, and the largest, the August Complex fire, became the state’s first-ever gigafire — meaning it burned over 1 million acres, scorching more acreage than the state of Rhode Island.

Ice in Arctic Sea Ice is not freezing in October for the first time on record, another strong warning of climate change. Paradoxically, this summer there were wildfires across the Siberian Arctic. These are called “Zombie fires” which smolder under the northern snow. They are also known as “hold-over fires“.

Trump says the answer to preventing forest fires is forest management. Yet more than 250,000 acres’ worth of unfinished projects aimed at preventing catastrophic wildfires are suspended because the U.S. Forest Service doesn’t have enough funding to complete them because of Trump underfunding forest management.

Trump, a longtime denier of the climate crisis, continually  rants about AOC and calls the Green New Deal “the craziest plan that anybody has ever seen.” Meanwhile, a New York Times analysis, based on research from the law schools like Harvard and Columbia, more than 70 environmental rules and regulations officially reversed, revoked, or otherwise rolled back by Mr. Trump. Another 26 rollbacks are still in progress.

Here’s an alternative to a wealth tax – call it an Excess Dominance Tax

The economy is dominated by oligopolies – concentrations exist in almost every industry. 3 or 4 companies get as much 70% of the global market share.  Just consider:

  • Phone Services: Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc, and T-Mobile USA:
  • Paper products – Kimberly-Clark, Proctor & Gamble and Georgia-Pacific
  • Satellite TV providers: Dish and Direct TV (Direct is owned by AT&T)
  • Soda pop: The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group
  • Tires: Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Michelin North America, Copper Tire & Rubber Company, and Bridgestone
  • Household appliances: Whirlpool Corporation, AB Electrolux, General Electric Company, and LG Electronics
  • Airlines: Southwest , Delta, American and United Airlines –
  • Pharmaceuticals Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co
  • Technology: Apple, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Intel, Cisco Systems
  • Search engines: Google and Microsoft have more 90 of this sector
  • Online retailers: Amazon, eBay, and Wal-Mart
  • Mass media: Comcast, Disney, Viacom & CBS (both controlled by National Amusements) and AT&T (via WarnerMedia).

Sixty of the nation’s biggest corporations paid no federal income taxes in 2018 despite earning $79 billion in profits and two out of every three U.S.  corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005,

Many corporate transactions are not taxed at all. These include mergers, acquisitions, and liquidations, which contribute to the overconcentration of American business in a handful of companies in most industries.

The time is ripe for a change. Taxing the problem is one way of solving it.

 

Waste: Smugglers are Sawing Through New Sections of Trump’s $10 To $15 Billion Border Wall

Smuggling gangs in Mexico are sawing through new sections of President Trump’s border wall by using commercially available power tools, making openings large enough for people and drug loads to pass through, according to U.S. agents and officials with knowledge of the damage.

The holes come about using a reciprocating saw you can pick up at hardware stores for about $200. Within a matter of minutes, these saws can slice through steel and concrete.  The blades for these saws cost from $10 to $15.  Once cut, smugglers push the steel out of the way, allowing adults to come through the gaps.

The funds for this wall have come from the defense l budget to the tune of ten billion dollars. For this, taxpayers will get a “holey wall.” Meanwhile, Trump declares in speeches the wall to be impenetrable. Future funding will from reductions in health care, reductions in the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency, the departments of State, Transportation, Education, and Interior are expected to pay for the rest.

Smugglers are not limited to sawing holes. They make makeshift ladders to scale over the tops of the wall. Just as the rulers of the past erected gates and tombs to honor themselves, Trump has a wall that appears to be as useful as an inflatable dartboard, a submarine with screen doors or a pen with no ink.

It will be a cat and mouse game that will go on indefinitely – taxpayer dollars repairing the holes in the wall while drug smugglers figure out new ways to get through the wall.

The smugglers are good at adapting. As long as smugglers can make big money smuggling drugs, people, and illegal merchandise they find ways to cut the holes and make the cut portions appear to be in their original positions, disguising the openings so they will go unnoticed and can be used over again.

This is like crooks and scamsters and who continually figure out new ways to cheat people out of their money, like phone calls pretending to be about social security or from the government informing you there is a warrant out for your arrest, and gift card scams.

Is this wall a monument to ego or an exercise in futility or both?

Our Lives are at the Disposal of Uncaring Institutions

Our lives are becoming more complicated as the years pass. The infrastructure of daily life grows more trying. What was easy is now challenging. Here are examples:

  • • Telephone service – we moved recently and it took three months to get two lines transferred to a new home four blocks from our old residence.
  •  Home insurance – we find ourselves paying as much for home insurance as property taxes because the insurance companies have stopped writing regular fire insurance in much of California.
  • Health care – we are fortunate to be in Kaiser Permanente but even in it, diagnoses are missed and you encounter the occasional uncaring or unknowing physician.
  •  Watching TV requires three remotes. It was easier when we manually turned the TV off and on.
  •  Online services that bill you monthly if you use them once and inadvertently miss that you have signed up for indefinite billing. I did this with JustAnswer.com, got worthless information and a no-refund policy.
  •  Banks and other vendors that stuff your account with inflated services.
  •  Customer service representatives that transfer you endlessly or tell you to call another number.
  •  Websites that tell you have entered the wrong answer to a simple math quiz that you know is correct or that refuse the password you have used for years.
  •  Software, specifically Microsoft Word, that doesn’t function in critical ways.

    We are at the disposal of uncaring institutions and merciless technology that compromises our financial security and privacy, reaping riches from the information they collect from us.

Russia Tells U.S. Military to Get Out of Syria

Trump ordered a  full withdrawal of American troops from northern Syria, abandoning our Kurdish allies who have fought ISIS on our behalf. Is this another example of Trump doing Putin’s bidding? 

American leaders of both parties are appalled by this abrubt move by Trump. Republicans are particularly waking up to what they have in Trump.  Other countries benefiting from this are Iran andd Assad’s Syria.Will the Senate as a whole act on this? Not likely, being led by Moscow Mitch.

This is a world hot spot that could lead to wider war. 

Your vote needs to count to get the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness

We must reform the democratic process to keep young Americans engaged in their nation’s destiny. Thedesire to leave the US permanently was high among young people, particularly young women, and lower income Americans.

Wealthy Americans are making money on American elections. Trump tax cuts gave Sheldon and Miriam Adelson’s casino business $700 million tax bonanza. They used $113 million dollars to plow into the 2018 election. 4 dollars in every 10 came from 1 tenth of 1% of Americans. Small wonder people believe lawmakers are beholden to special interests.   

 The new Democratic majority has introduced the “For the People Act” H.R. 1. It contains many constructive proposals and while it may be passed by the House, the Republican Senate is unlikely to approve it. But it will have been debated and ready for the 2020 Congress which hopefully will see a Senate majority and a has-been Trump.

  1. The bill would create a national public financing system for House elections in which candidates would receive $6 in matching public funds for every $1 they raise in private funds up to $200 from any one donor. It will also create a similar system for presidential elections; Democrats say they will propose a separate bill covering Senate campaign financing.
  2. Voting doesn’t just happen in the United States today. To make certain that everyone who can vote is able to vote, make voter registration automatic for all eligible voters, using information they’ve already provided the Department of Motor Vehicles or other state agencies. Other ways to spur voting is online, same-day registration, and allow colleges and universities to register students.  1 in 5 Americans were eligible to vote but did not register. Automatic registration would change this.
  3. Use the federal courts to make states not take away individual’s voting rights through voter ID laws, the purging of voter rolls, and inaccessible and inadequate polling places or any form of voter suppression. States would have the affirmative duty to maintain voter registration, as is done in many other democracies.
  4. Other measures include making Election Day a holiday for federal workers, removing the ability of states to require an excuse to vote absentee, allowing people to vote in person two weeks before an election, eliminate postage on absentee ballots, and enabling people who vote in the wrong precinct to have their vote counted, and automatically restoring voting rights to people  no longer incarcerated.
  5. Reverse through legislation the Citizens United decision which prevents Congress and state governments from limiting political spending. This may provoke a Constitutional crisis but without this the votes of average people are so diluted, it will be virtually impossible to recover public trust in the integrity of our government. The Supreme Court must reverse itself.
  6. Require public disclosure of the sources of all political donations. Much of that is now secret and the Federal Elections Commission needs to be empowered to enforce this. to enforce campaign finance regulation.
  7. No longer permit members of Congress, their staffs, cabinet members and top White House personnel to take lobbying jobs after leaving government for two to five years.  
  8. Require members of Congress to place their investments in neutral accounts like index funds.
  9. Require all candidates running for Congress and the presidency release their tax returns so the American people know of any potential financial conflicts of interests before they’re elected.
  10. Require states to have independent redistricting commissions, Arizona, California, Michigan, and Colorado, have to eliminate gerrymandered districts.
  11. To assure elections from being hacked, requiring states to use paper ballots even if they use electronic equipment so there will be a paper trail.

These reforms are needed to restore the Jeffersonian ideals on which this nation was founded.

Will they have food for the next Christmas dinner?

One thing Trump has never been accused of is looking at the big picture. Thus with a nod of his head and letting go of a string of obscenities, he has done everything he can to reverse the Affordable Care Act of Obamacare. Aside from the millions who will not be able to afford health insurance, up to three million jobs in the health care sector will go away. Nurses, doctors, technicians , dieticians, emergency medical personnel, home health aides, magnetic resonance imaging technologists, medical equipment preparers, nursing assistants, occupational therapists, orderly, pharmacy technicians, phlebotomist, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, speech pathologists, surgical technologists – all of whom use their paychecks in their local economies – for food, clothing, transit. The ripple effect will deepen the economic misery.

The Milken Institute of Public Health projects this will take $1.5 trillion dollars out to the economy. This projection does not take into account the effect of a trade war with China and the bear market, which the economy entered into this month.  

What you can do is let your elected represented know you will hold them accountable for what they do. When a demonstration is called in your community, peaceably participate. Health matters and the ability to eat does, too.  We must remember there is a better way to govern a nation.