No Financial Rescue Today

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has remained a beacon of hope in the extended solitude of Americans. America’s favorite federal agency has, for years, reliably delivered vital mail packages to citizens. It is perhaps during the coronavirus pandemic where the USPS clientele realized its work as essential and regarded postal workers with the praise they approached doctors with, heartwarming with a new undisguised admiration for these previously unspoken heroes. However, Trump has made questionable inquiries about USPS’s relationship with Jeff Bezos and, by extension, Amazon and The Washington Post as they are both inextricably linked to Bezos. Jeff Bezos has owned The Washington Post since 2013 for a sum of a quarter of a million. The Washington Post has remained one of Trump’s foremost critics, and Trump has reciprocated with his own criticisms of the newspaper. The USPS is the Hermes of mail in its speedy deliveries to even Americans in rural areas, and senior citizens. However, our Postal Service has been threatened towards the inability to operate from the threat of cut funds and a steep plummet in sales and services. Without the funds that President Trump is holding hostage until the Postal Service increases its rates for Amazon packages, the beloved Postal Service is at a crossroads between succumbing to demands, employing a new system of mail delivery, or finding funds between couch cushions. Regardless of President Trump’s disappointment in the USPS, defunding the USPS before a crucial election in the fall and an upcoming wave of a virus is imprudent.

Amazon Receives a Backrub from USPS

The agreement between USPS and Amazon on the basis of delivering packages isn’t strange under the Negotiated Service Agreements, which provide discounted bulk shipping, and the Parcel Select Lightweight contract for packages less than a pound, but the relationship between USPS and Amazon could be exploitative even to the unbiased. Amazon has potentially swindled money from the USPS over the years, but under the all-encompassing pandemic, the USPS should consider raising prices, and their relationship with Amazon would be relatively the same. Especially since USPS has provided a service for Amazon exceeding standards by prioritizing Amazon and delivering packages on Sundays. Therefore, the USPS gives some preferential treatment to Amazon per their relationship sustained by packages under their “last mile” service, which makes deliveries to hard-to-reach areas. However, the service is used by other private delivery services (ex. FedEx, and UPS), which borrow USPS’ universal infrastructure and access to every mailbox in the U.S. for the “last mile” service. Despite this perceived dependence of Amazon on USPS, Amazon delivers approximately half of its packages and has built its own shipping networks as well. Amazon exploits USPS by handing them packages that would be too costly to deliver themselves. To add on, USPS has “Negotiated Service Agreements,” for its other big customers, rather than as special treatment for Amazon, and the “Parcel Select Lightweight” for everyone. It would be a waste to subject USPS to significant cuts in their funding over an above-board relationship with Amazon when this misguides the vendetta towards Americans more than Jeff Bezos.

USPS: Swan Song?

Under any circumstances, USPS shouldn’t be defunded as they provide many meaningful services to Americans and will continue to play a vital role in America. The former Postmaster General (Megan J. Brennan) claims in a U.S. Postal Service statement on stimulus needs that the pandemic affected their mail volume revenue stream. The estimated total of losses is $54 billion dollars and $22 billion over the next year and a half. In total, they have estimated that they will run out of money by September and requested $75 billion in emergency funding. The USPS needs the $10 billion being offered to save its skin, the skin holding together 630,000 committed postal employees in the USPS, and its role as an integral part of the U.S. government. In order to receive a lifeline from the U.S. government, the Postal Service needs to increase the price of delivering a package by four times for Amazon and similar eCommerce sites. However, increasing the price of packages would impact Americans who will be forced to pay more for shopping. Especially since the USPS serves residents and employees more than it does companies like Amazon. This ultimatum from President Trump runs deep into his own biases against Jeff Bezos and entities associated with him. Once allocated $25 billion dollars in the CARES Act, it is now $10 billion dollars in the shape of a loan as soon as certain reforms are instated. The items people need from online products to mail ballots rely on the success of USPS, as they always have. Therefore, the scope for providing proper funding to the USPS is limited in the midst of an election, and a personal distaste against Bezos.

Public Reliance

The United States Postal Service provides one of the most important services and participates in American society as an entity that the public relies heavily upon. This will only be amplified as the country prepares for a one-of-a-kind election which it is wholly unprepared for, the burden of an election many are averse to will feel lightened with the assistance of a reliable and functioning Postal Service. As of now, the Postal Service is being offered loans, rather than funds, in return for acceding to ultimatums with Amazon. The loans provide a fraction of the funds they need to work at full capacity and ability. The USPS is going to be a crucial part of the nation’s economic recovery in the upcoming months and years after the pandemic. To the public, they expect this public service to be as undisturbed and sustained by goodwill, encouragement, and economic support as it can be. Committed USPS employees work six to seven days a week, handle necessary mail packages with medications and remedies, benefit checks, among others. Once Americans are forced into another quarantine solitude, or at the very least an enforced social distancing order, the trust placed into the Postal Service will encompass a variety of essential products which were purchased with ease before. People living in hard-to-reach areas and in need of specific assistance the USPS provides are especially fond of the USPS for their aid. 630,000 postal workers rely on the benefits and stability of their job in the USPS, and their occupation is regarded as one of the best in struggling communities. To substantiate that claim, the Postal Service is regarded as an engine of growth for the black middle class. The USPS operates as an extension of commercial delivery companies who don’t have the ability to serve these hard-to-reach areas. Without proper funding, the United States Postal Service may lose their integrity by succumbing to President Trump and his terms or by becoming privatized. If the USPS were to become privatized, it would fail many of its employees, patronage, and partnerships who rely on the reputation of USPS to deliver packages at low rates. Withholding funds from USPS could affect the volume at which they can process and transport goods for the public. 

The noble participation of the USPS will carry the election process from mail ballots, which many will utilize. For a fair election in the fall, the USPS is a crucial part as their service is deemed necessary by many anticipating to vote for their chosen candidate. Without the USPS, the election would be held in-person in the fall, which in that circumstance would put eager voters in contact with coronavirus. With mail ballots, citizens eligible to vote could vote from the safety of their home as they are away from crowds of other voters, effectively social distancing in the hope to participate in a fair election. The hesitant attitude which many approach mail voting with supports an unfair election and one withholding the use of mail ballots should be discredited as people should be accommodated during these special times. The concern of the USPS and the small fraction of funds allotted to them could bring a different result to the efficiency in delivering mail-in ballots this November than if they were properly funded. Next, defunding the USPS would force voting centers to take on the burden and concern of crowds of voters in November. 

The Near Future of Voting

In the upcoming election, there is an estimated influx of mail ballot voters, but this high probability has been met with reluctance and even hostility from officials. Previously by 20 years, mail voting was not a widely utilized method of voting. However, by the 2018 midterms, a fourth of voters voted by mail, and that double-fold increase was due to some states transitioning to mail ballot elections. Five states have embraced the practice by entirely voting by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. Heading into a crucial election and an equally terrifying wave of a dangerous virus, voting could be met with concerns over the health of many voters. Therefore, voting by mail as an accommodation has been made by government officials in Michigan, Nevada, California, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. These states have been part of the effort to make mail voting successful and mail ballots accessible as possible for citizens in the upcoming major election with as many as 70% of votes with mail ballots. However, President Trump disapproves of the practice being made available to the American people despite voting with mail ballots himself in the past as a preemptive strike against voter fraud. Voter fraud, with the use of mail ballots, is a complicated process to the point of near impossibility as there are many precautions in determining the eligibility of a vote, and details in accepting its validity differ by the voter. There is hope in the ability to use mail ballots in the upcoming general election in Sen. Ron Wyden and Amy Klobuchar’s Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act, which would expand mail-ballot access. However, the delayed response in how states will use mail ballots in the upcoming presidential election while expanding their operations to handle the influx of votes. These mail ballots need to be requested in the near future as an estimated reference to print enough. Concerns over USPS’ operations and ability to deliver mail ballots on top of their usual packages adds layers to concerns over voting. In the upcoming efforts of making voting safe and trusted, the USPS plays a crucial role despite being thrown into the wormhole of politicization.  

The limited and uncreative solutions for the issue of the USPS being defunded lack any sort of outline despite being the only hope for voters. These solutions rely on the determination of voters in states who vote by mail and those who aren’t. Concerned voters need to press their state officials to fight for the allowance of mail ballots in their state. The voters in states that allow mail ballots should encourage members of their communities to vote without pressing them towards a particular party. Celebrities and enthusiastic voters advocated for a higher voter turnout ideally for the 2018 election. The state officials who support mail voting and ones with a positive to neutral approach need to press their peers into allowing the service for voters. The USPS should carry out this service as their track record of excellence exceeds the allegations of an unfair partnership with Amazon. It is only then that the USPS could be given proper funding for its services. The reason these solutions are so bleak is that they are almost completely reliant on the government and its need for USPS.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and/or student and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of United 4 Social Change Inc., its board members, or officers.
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