Ode to the USPS

As Rachel Maddow and others have pointed out, the Post Office is so integral to the fabric of Democratic life that there is a line about it in the Constitution. What do people rely on the Post Office and Postal Services for. Hmmm. . . Let’s see:

1. Mail, of course. I know a few people, myself included, who still write letters and send cards. I’m telling you, it’s a lovely thing to find in your pile of junk mail: a card from your cousin, a letter from an old friend. If we really took the time to use the Post Office, we could tell people we haven’t seen since February that we’re thinking of them for just a few dollars. We could mail cards to shut ins. I have several elderly relatives in nursing facilities, and I know from my Mom’s experience that getting a card from a family member or old friend can be a highlight to their day.

Sure, there’s junk mail, but I get a heck of a lot of junk mail in my email and on Facebook. And I have blanket policy about it: I glance at it quickly, in case it’s actually offering something I need, but mostly I throw it out.

2. Bills. Some people, particularly the elderly and folks who don’t have easy, safe internet access, still get their bills through the mail. And then they mail the checks in to those that they owe. That trip to the Post Office to mail the payments may also fulfill other purposes too. Slow down the mail, those payments all become past due, and the diligent folks who dropped them in one of those remaining postal boxes gets charged late fees. Guess who benefits from that? Not you and me, friend. Big business does.

3. Tax Forms. Yes, although they made them available electronically, my College has also been sending their W2s out by mail, too, just to make sure we got them. I’ll bet many other companies still do that too. After all, companies still are legally required to do get those necessary tax forms to their employees by the end of January. Right? That deadline exists so we can pay our taxes, which some people still do by mail. Maybe getting rid of the Post Office, or crippling its functions, is a cloaked message that we don’t have to pay taxes anymore!

4. Prescriptions. Until she went into Memory Care, my mother received many of her prescriptions through the mail. Her insurance company required that she use that particular pharmaceutical service. If she used her local pharmacy, she was charged more.

5. Package Delivery.

6. Some people pay bills, including credit cards and utilities, at the Post Office. This is particularly true in rural areas.

7. Some people get money orders at the Post Office, so they can pay those bills, pay rent, or do any number of other transactions that won’t accept cash.

8. Passports: for my last passport, I got it all done, including the photo, at the Hertel Avenue Post Office in Buffalo.

9. Reasonably priced express shipping and tracking, both domestic and international.

10. Post Office boxes. We got a PO Box for my Mom after we sold her home, because we needed a safe, secure place to receive her mail.

11. Voting: I have, in some of the cities I’ve lived in, found voting registration materials at the Post Office, in the same place where they had Tax Forms. And of course, for those of us who need to get and submit absentee ballots, the Post Office is a necessary player. I have used absentee ballots, mostly when I lived overseas. My mother has used absentee ballots, too, as a shut-in. There’s nothing underhanded about them: they have always existed as a way to give each American citizen their Constitutional Right to vote.

My late former husband Bill (whose birthday is today – happy birthday, Bill!) was born in Manchester, England. Bill traveled all over the world, and sent post cards and packages from all over the world. He saw many postal systems, and he always said that the United States Post Office was the very best. Since I was with him most of the time, and I also lived abroad, I agree with him. The U.S. Post Office has always been efficient and user friendly. If Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and Friends have their way with the Post Office in their ongoing attack on Democratic institutions, the United States ship of state will take a hit to the bow, and it may be a fatal one. I can’t hope but notice, too, when I list all of the services the Post Office provides, the folks who will suffer the most are the poor, the rural, and the elderly.

As Rachel Maddow says, we have the power to stop this. MAKE NOISE FRIENDS!! It is your Constitutional right to vote, not to mention to have a free, accessible postal service.

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