When a big-name retailer finds its sales in a slow downward spiral, the geniuses in the executive suite often try to keep their profits up by cheapening their product and delivering less to customers.
To see how well this poorly thought-out strategy works, look no further than the declining sales at Walmart and McDonald’s. When the geniuses in charge of these behemoths applied the cutback strategy, their slow decline turned into a perilous nosedive. You’d think their experience would keep other executives from making the same mistake, but here comes an even bigger — and much more important — retail behemoth saying, “We have to cut to survive.”
That was the pronouncement last year by the head honcho of the U.S. Postal Service, which has been eliminating employees, closing facilities, and reducing services for years. Each new round of reductions drives away more customers, which causes clueless executives to prescribe more cuts. In a January decree, USPS virtually eliminated overnight delivery of first-class mail, and it’s now planning to close or consolidate 82 regional mail-processing plants. This means fewer workers handling the nation’s growing load of mail, creating further delays in delivery. The answer to this, say the slaphappy executives, is — guess what? — to cut even more “service” out of postal service. They want to close hundreds of our local post offices and eliminate Saturday mail delivery (which is one of USPS’s major competitive advantages).
And speaking of competitive advantages, we can now buy rolls of “Forever” stamps from our local post offices, protecting us from future price increases (and mailing a letter from Texas to Alaska for 49 cents is a great deal — FedEx and UPS can’t offer us anything remotely close to that). But We The People now need to put a “Forever” stamp on the post office itself, protecting it from a cabal of privatizers and the Postal Service’s own executives.
This cabal of corporate predators, congressional anti-government ideologues, and pusillanimous postal officials is dismantling this invaluable public service, piece by piece — an agency that literally has delivered for America from the very start of our country. Yet in the name of “saving” the U.S. Postal Service, they’ve been gutting its services, intentionally driving away business. Having fewer customers will give the cabal an excuse to make more cuts … and ultimately to kill it as a public entity. This is like a boss telling workers: “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”
Post office workers, letter carriers, and mail handlers are tired of the beatings, so they’ve launched a nationwide campaign with dozens of other grassroots organizations to rally public support to Save Our Public Postal Service by revitalizing and expanding the services that this venerable American institution can and should provide. Under the uplifting banner of “I Stand with Postal Workers,” the American Postal Workers Union is coordinating a National Day of Action this Thursday, May 14. Workers are fed up with the deliberate degradation of this vital public service, so they themselves are putting forth a bold vision and innovative plan not merely for USPS to survive, but thrive. With more than 70 other national groups, they’ve forged “A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service.” To be part of its actions, go to: AGrandAlliance.org.
Some 70 public demonstrations and rallies will take place Thursday at post offices in 30 states — from Alaska to Florida, Maine to California. Join me this Thursday in standing with postal workers — for the benefit of all the people. Each of us can be a symbolic “Forever” stamp to protect our public post offices from the privatizers. To join this spirited stand for restoring the common good in America, you can find the exact location, timem and contact number for each local event at www.apwu.org.
To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.
Photo: Kevin Dooley via Flickr