Here’s a Plan to Save the Post Office and Give the Working Poor a Break

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This post originally appeared at In These Times.

In this April, 15, 2008, file photo, Jackie Doyle, of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., second from left, waits in line to mail her husband's taxes at the James A. Farley Main Post Office in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg, File)
In this April, 15, 2008, file photo, Jackie Doyle, of Greenwood Lake, NY, second from left, waits in line to mail her husband's taxes at the James A. Farley Main Post Office in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg, File)

Your friendly local post office may have an honorable history, but it’s facing tough times, including a fiscal crisis and, more generally, a struggle to keep pace with growing digital communication technologies. Conservatives have increasingly dismissed the United States Postal Service as a clunky relic of old-fashioned America, with right-wing lawmakers seeking to phase it out through service cuts and privatization. Now, some progressives are trying to save the USPS by rebranding it as a financial vehicle: a place for you to pick up your mail and deposit a paycheck in one stop.

Some officials have pitched the idea of the postal service expanding into “non-bank” financial services, carefully designed to complement rather than directly compete with Wall Street. In a recent white paper, the USPS Inspector General’s office suggested that local post offices could offer products such as international money transfers, small short-term loans and prepaid debit cards for bills or everyday purchases. To fulfill needs unmet by big banks, these financial services would ideally be targeted toward “low-income areas like rural communities and inner cities.”

Ultimately, though, many advocates want to see the postal service be bolder and actually delve into full-scale banking services. Labor and consumer advocacy groups like AppleSeed say the USPS is excellently positioned as a government-supported, publicly accountable institution to fill a longstanding gap in the financial system by offering interest-bearing accounts and other basic banking services. In addition, branching into the affordable finance business would offer the USPS a steady revenue stream.

For free-marketers who fear the USPS would steal big banks’ customers, advocates point out that low-income groups that stand to gain the most from postal banking have already been marginalized as a bad business prospect. Some 68 million Americans are considered “underbanked”: In other words, they lack access to mainstream banks and essential services like savings accounts. “Banking desert” neighborhoods are typically full of people of color, immigrants and unemployed workers — and there may be no full-service bank in sight for them, because massive firms like Merrill Lynch do not see those areas as “profitable.”

In turn, the service gap makes communities like these easy prey for shady, profiteering non-bank financial-service companies, such as payday loan shops — which are often indirectly funded by Wall Street. Under the current banking infrastructure, according to the IG report, the average underserved household spends $2,412 each year just on interest and fees for alternative financial services.

But residents of underbanked neighborhoods do tend to have access to their local branch of a nationwide network of 35,000 postal outlets, which serve every zip code, rich or poor. And as the IG points out, the post office already provides money orders in addition to mail service.

Under a postal banking system, then, consumers could cash their paycheck with Uncle Sam instead of with a sketchy corner check-cashing joint, or get a quick loan without incurring more debt through a payday lender’s usurious fees and interest rates. A public option with a trusted name like the Postal Service would provide these struggling families a stable financial infrastructure without the risks posed by high-cost storefront financiers.

With a long historical and global track record, postal finance is actually a pretty old-fashioned notion. New Zealand and Japan have established robust, popular postal banking systems that offer similar services to the proposed plan, as Dave Dayen points out. And from 1911 to 1967, the USPS ran its own Postal Savings System, a basic financial infrastructure for small deposits that earned 2 percent interest. The system peaked in the late 1940s, with more than four million depositors holding more than $3 billion, before it was eclipsed by commercial banks that had begun offering consumers more competitive interest rates.

But now that big banks have devastated the global economy and driven millions of Americans into financial ruin, it’s a good time to resurrect postal banking as a more socially responsible alternative. The idea has already gained some attention in Washington with an official endorsement from Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The transition could also help the USPS bolster its sagging finances. “If even 10 percent of what the underserved currently spend on interest and fees instead went to more affordable offerings from the Postal Service,” the IG report states, “it could lead to some $8.9 billion in new revenue per year.”

For their part, unions support postal banking, too, as an alternative to the branch closures, diminished delivery days and job losses that conservatives have repeatedly pushed on the USPS amid its current — albeit mostly manufactured — fiscal crisis.

“The Postal Service will better serve the needs of potential customers — and the nation — because it won’t victimize customers,” says American Postal Workers Union (APWU) communications director Sally Davidow. “Traditional banks have ignored the unbanked, and payday loan operations are essentially legalized loan-sharking.” An expansion into this sector by the USPS would also serve the needs of its workforce, she tells In These Times, because the employees are “highly trained and accountable to the public,” and overall, “post offices should have longer hours and be better staffed.”

This anti-privatization sentiment has also driven the APWU to oppose pro-business reform proposals, including a controversial new pilot program to partner with Staples and effectively outsource some services to corporate store employees. Instead of potentially displacing uniformed civil servants through privatization, the union points out, the government now has the opportunity to expand that unionized workforce into a greed-soaked banking sector.

Postal-banking advocates should remain wary, however, that a venture into the banking sector could backfire by fostering more corporatization: A public-option financial vehicle could be watered down into yet another Staples-like “public-private partnership” by partnering with an existing commercial bank. Rather than leading to a socialization of mainstream finance, such a move would undermine the institution’s civic role. Any progressive postal banking plan, therefore, would need to offer services that challenge big banks, allowing it to be economically competitive enough to ward off private-sector co-optation.

A successful foray into financial services might also inspire initiatives for other forms of public service provision that fit a progressive modernization agenda. The USPS could, for example, offer online portals to facilitate citizens’ communications with various governmental agencies, such as benefits offices. A natural extension from there might be for the Postal Service to spearhead an offer of cheap broadband to residential households, especially in low-income areas where profit-minded private firms have not built sufficient local networks.

Contrary to the right-wing myth, privatization is not the only way the USPS can survive in the Information Age. Instead, the Postal Service can become a more viable business and a more vital community institution by enhancing its public role. It can challenge Wall Street by bringing economic equity to Main Street.

Michelle Chen, In These Times
Michelle Chen is a contributing editor at In These Times, a contributor to Working In These Times and an editor at CultureStrike. She is also a co-producer of Asia Pacific Forum on Pacifica’s WBAI. Follow her on Twitter at @meeshellchen.
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  • DreamQueen

    I think it would be a national shame for the US Postal Service to be eliminated. I don’t know why so-called conservatives say it is a relic and want to phase it out. The “conservative” position would be to keep it. The postal service has played an important part in our country becoming what it is today.
    I think the USPS is needed to make sure everyone is served with at least some form of communication, especially for official paperwork. If left to private industry, they will not serve areas that are not profitable. That is what the private sector does, by definition.
    Not everyone can afford landline phone, cell phone or internet access and/or the computer to access the internet. There is no charge (normally) to be on the receiving end of a USPS letter. It may cost the sender postage but not the recipient. Also, paper letters are more private. They can’t be intercepted by hackers or the NSA. Someone has to physically obtain the letter to evesdrop on what is contained in the letter. Yes, it can happen but not as easily on a large scale. Someone just can’t be sitting there behind a computer screen and gain access to the contents of thousands or millions of letters.
    The postal-banking proposals are an interesting idea to make the USPS more profitable and relevant.

  • Anonymous

    I hope it works out as being discussed. :) Privatization is not working for people not in the 1%.

  • Anonymous

    What will UPS/FEDEX charge for a letter? My guess — $5. And how much additional gasoline will be burned driving to mail letters rather than having them picked up at household mail boxes?

  • Linda Dorman

    Interesting concept…when I worked in Japan about a decade ago, they had a similar multi-purpose system via Japan Post which offered savings accounts and insurance coverage as well as postal services. I think JP has since been privatized but it was very popular.

    Since many public libraries are now offering free computer usage, Internet access/WiFi, classes, etc…it would also be interesting to see what other free or low-cost services the USPS could provide, particularly to underserved customers.

  • DavidW

    Income inequality isn’t the real problem in this country, “ownership” inequality is, because that is where the economic and political power in this country is out of balance. Power emanates from the ownership of revenue generating “properties” and the concentration of such in the hands of a few has lead us to economic totalitarianism.

    This proposal can help, if enacted to help limit that concentration of wealth and its corresponding power. But we need to help it along and champion other equalizers such as Cooperative Enterprise and a higher minimum wage. Senator Warren has it right and no one initiative will accomplish what the one percent has done over a century. We need to catch up.

  • Pablo G. Baldazo

    The regular mail service of the USPS have been “bastardized” by the onslaught of all the internet email service by Hotmail, Yahoo, Google, AOL, etc. That is a fact. What stops the USPS from entering the so-called free internet email service of its own and then get an extra revenue of its own thru advertising. It is a government corporation anyway, why can’t it earns money thru advertising especially from small businesses in every community that it serves now through regular service mail? Is there a law against getting extra revenues from advertising of small businesses that can’t afford the advertising cost being charged against big businesses by a host of big media companies like television broadcast of large public events like the superbowl and the world series anyway?

  • Eva Lewarne


  • Don McMahan

    I am an American living abroad. we already have what this plan is proposing here in Ireland and a bit more, such as interest bearing savings accounts and bill paying through the post office. additionally it is the post office that distributes social welfare payments, people come in to collect their un-employment or their old age pension and they can pay their bills and put a bit into savings while they are there all in the one place. it is like a lot of other things progressive and european that conservative americans hate, it works.

  • Ginny

    I have always defended the postal service because of its great service; however, in the past two years, I have become increasingly frustrated with it’s inability to accurately get my mail delivered to me. It has been a constant and recurring problem…we have failed to get phone bills, credit card statements, tax statements, etc., etc. We could go paperless on some of these, but not all. I’m losing my patience, but don’t know how it can be resolved. As far as new services, I wish them luck, but please, get the mail to the right addresses.

  • Bill

    An interesting concept, and it just MIGHT work. Of course, cutting out Saturday deliveries – and possibly even another day of the week – would save a lot too…and who needs junk mail over the week-end?

  • AuntieM

    “I don’t know why so-called conservatives say it is a relic and want to
    phase it out. The “conservative” position would be to keep it. The
    postal service has played an important part in our country becoming what
    it is today.” Dear DreamQueen: Railroads, stagecoaches, Pony Express all got phased out too. The only thing I get in my mailbox these days is junk mail. I’m thinking of taking the mailbox down so they can’t deliver it to me. Now if they supplied high speed Internet and my local post office had a bank of computers like the library does…

  • Bob Johnson

    WalMart charges 70 cents for a money order.

  • elancg

    Collaborate to compete is a good strategy. UPS and FedEx can channel some of their deliveries through the post office.

  • Anonymous

    This BOTH sides argument is typically advanced by libertarians and low info voters…what’s your excuse?

  • Anonymous

    I welcome the idea, especially since BOA moved out of our rural town.

  • chris love

    What makes you “think” I need one? Expound on YOUR view, please. If you just want to argue, I’m not interested….if you have a solution to offer, fire away.

  • Betty J Rousey

    I think I’d rather go to a bank than that place! They are trying to take over a little bit of everything, small businesses especially, and have a monopoly over all…

  • Betty J Rousey

    Great idea! And it would be a FEDERAL I.D….I’m ready to stop these obvious attempts at voter suppression!

  • Anonymous

    You’re mixing up services with technology. Railroads and stagecoaches were displaced by other means of transportation, but cross-country transportation services still exist. If you want to make an argument for abandoning home mail delivery, go ahead. But pointing to obsolete technology isn’t it.

  • Jimmy Mc

    What about security upgrades? Now the USPS deals only with petty cash.

  • Geoff Miller

    The big question is: “Will the re-branded, expanded service, re-tasked resources/new capabilities evolution of the USPS be controlled or influenced in any way by politicians? If so, it is doomed. If not… if it can operate under an independent not-for-profit or even for profit entity… then this is an interesting idea that shows promise. The fact that Elizabeth “mighty brave” Warren (or any other politician) likes the idea does NOT fill me with confidence.

  • Geoff Burkman

    I’m fairly certain they already do…

  • Anonymous

    In addition to operating as savings banks for the unbanked, P.O.
    branches could also offer check cashing services and sell debit cards
    without any markup. Also, federal government transfer payments could go
    directly into an individual’s postal savings account, rather than into
    commercial checking accounts that charge small depositors (relatively)
    high fees. Federal electronic funds transfers would then directly help
    individuals rather than subsidize large commercial banks.

    If we brought back a federal postal savings bank, like we used to have,
    we could help the unbanked, the poor, and individuals (not corporate
    persons). We would also give postal desk clerks very useful work to do.
    We would be able to keep post offices open, notably in very poor
    neighborhoods throughout the country where having a local post office
    stabilizes the community. It would be altogether good.

    We might end up destroying the paycheck loan industry that charges the
    poorest among us interest rates of 30 to over 1000%. I think that
    would be good too.

  • Anonymous

    Sheldon Garon, a professor at Princeton who blogged about this idea on CNN’s website two years ago emailed me that, “Right now, this idea is limited to a few policy organizations like the New America Foundation and the Urban Institute (there have been recent blogs by both, which use my book), and there have been a few other blogs. The quickest way to advance it in terms of policy is relate it directly to the uncertain fate of the U.S. Post Office. It would be nice of course if members of Congress and the U.S. Postal Commission weighed in, but no signs of that yet.”

  • Bob Johnson

    Nice to know we have options and choices to shop where we want or not. I’ve seen liquor stores selling money orders for 45 cents, so that’s another option. Or you can help the post office out and buy it there, unless you object to monopolies. The post office has a monopoly on the delivery of first class mail and exclusive access to customer mailboxes.

  • polishheaven

    They are more secure than any bank around. Their camera system is next to none, the postal inspectors are highly trained agents and they have very tight auditing procedures in place to catch anyone trying to cheat the system. Post offices are required by law to break even. When they do make money which they do Congress siphons it off without the public being aware. Walmart’s business model is to pay low wages so that the government and your taxes have to pay welfare and food stamps to its employees. On the other hand the post office offers a good living wage with decent benefits. Don’t knock it without it UPS, FEDEX etc….would charge whatever it wants. The post office rates are stable to every state, Puerto Rico, Guam and any other us territory. Try and get the others to guarantee you the same rate from your doorstep to any address.

  • Edward Moriarty

    I still find it amazing that I can write a letter on a piece of paper, fold it up and put into an envelope and for the price of first class stamp mail it from Florida on Monday and have it reliably arrive at a destination anywhere in the continental United States on Thursday of the same week.

  • Edward Moriarty

    And we get to pay for medicaid for their underpaid employees.

  • Amala Lane

    They were doing fine until Bush W got in the white house and he forced them to put aside huge amounts into the billions for retirement plans of workers they hadn’t even hired yet.

  • Anonymous

    Elizabeth Warren, Badack Obama, Al Frankin, – hey, Bernie!!! Do your jobs NOW. Have the guts to get the government to give back the $25 billion dollars the US government has siphoned off from the Post Office in something like 10 years – supposedly to cover health benefits for employees who have not yet been born yet. In fact this is a tactic of the privateers who want to steal not only the USPS but who also want to steal the $5 billion the Post Office has to give the Feds EVERY YEAR. FOR NOTHING. The same money they get to steal is being used as a tool to make the Post Office look broke.
    Where are you?? What’s wrong ith you! Tell the truth and make this right.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for saying this. A lot of those vultures claim to be blue.

  • Anonymous

    No – the Post Office has had to give the Federal government $5 billion dollars every year supposedly as a deposit for benefits to employees who have not yet been born.

  • Anonymous

    Yes! Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Are you really asking? That question has an answer but I think you’re not really asking but just pretending to not know.

  • Anonymous

    Aren’t you printing your own stamps? The USPS has had that software up and avaiable for years. Check it out – I think you will be pleased. You can even use your own design.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for spreading the word –

  • Peachy Oneplm

    Here’s my idea…Charge more for mailing! Cover the expenses. It’s not really that difficult to figure it out, is it? I also think all delivery workers ought to get a bonus for the wintery weather days. Raise the rate to a dollar a letter, if needed, as people don’t mail too many them anymore, it certainly wouldn’t be felt nearly as much as the utility rate hikes, fuel prices and of course medical insurance prices.

  • Baron95

    And why would you do that? Waste paper and fuel. When you can type an email and be done. The US Gvmt should privatize the USPS and let it compete with UPS and FedEx and the Internet.

    The US Gvmt should have a program to move the entire economy to electronic documents and electronic communications.

    As far as I know, the only thing the USPS is good for is ruffing my mailbox with junk mail regularly.

    Until there are laws that let me opt out of junk mail, just as I can opt out of junk phone calls, I hope the USPS starves and dies.

  • Robin Lerner

    This sounds like a good idea. It would help lower income people and keep the USPS strong therefore creating and keeping more jobs. LEts do it.

  • edwinna

    It actually WAS the GOP led Congress in 2006, that imposed the inexplicable 75 year pre-funding mandate for their retirement plan on the USPS. No other entities in the US are forced to take such a huge amount of their revenue in advance. The only possible explanation for this move was to cause financial problems for the USPS, and to make the public believe that it had an unworkable system, and should be put out of its misery in favor of private carriers. Private carriers can charge anything they want for their fees, unlike the USPS, which must get Congressional approval for rate hikes. Private carriers are already more expensive than the Postal Service. Yet the USPS takes NO tax money from the public. All its revenue comes from selling stamps and other current services. AND, despite all of this the USPS has still been running a profit every year.

  • edwinna

    You can also buy postage stamps at many retail and grocery stores– right at the cash register as you pay for the rest of your purchases.

  • edwinna

    That’s a lie somebody told you. Despite the 75- year retirement pre-funding mandate from the 2006 GOP Congress– and competition from email AND private carriers (who are also more expensive), the USPS still runs at a profit. It makes its revenue only through sales of stamps and other postal services, and uses NO taxpayer subsidies.

  • edwinna

    Sure, because they already have a whole agency set up to monitor and collect electronic data from any source. It’s called the National Security Agency. And private carriers already are more expensive than the USPS. They also can raise rates to anything they want to, unlike the USPS, who much have approval from Congress to raise postage.

  • Dave Jannsen

    Prepaid debit accounts? That’s not what they should be doing. How about a credit union with checking accounts and all like USAA?

  • Anonymous

    They’re doing that, but the USPS financial crunch was created by Congress. For some unfathomable reason, they required the USPS to fund pensions for employees who weren’t even employed (or born!) yet. See the links above.

  • gene cass

    Good idea.

  • Stuart Fearnes

    They don’t want to privatize the entire USPS and if you knew what you were talking about, you would know it’s partially privatized now. Private route carriers, offices, etc. The USPS needs to be right-sized.

  • Stuart Fearnes

    What a bunch of malarkey. The USPS needs to be right-sized and many centers closed and distribution centers cut. The government has no business getting the post office in to business to compete with the private sector. Plain-and-simple.

  • Timothy53

    am not entirely sure why the writer start off with an attack on those
    who are honestly looking for solutions as right-wing (usually meant as
    an insult and not as a factual description). CHanging the Postal Service
    into some kind of alternative bank seems a little extreme.

    I actually have some ideas. Ideas that actually take the post office
    back to the way it was many tears ago and at the same time could make it
    at least cost neutral.

    Why does it cost me to have a box at the post office but it is fee-free
    for me to have mail delivered to my door. That is backward. If I want
    home delivery, I should have to pay a monthly fee. If I want a box, it
    should be fee-free. But, Tim, wouldn’t that mean lots of new boxes
    needed? Sure would.

    So the Postal Service would open bidding for the right to host
    mailboxes. Think about it. If, say, Safeway hosts a few hundred boxes,
    that would be a few hundred people coming into the store at least a
    couple of times a week, and every person who comes into the store has
    the potential of buying something, even something they don’t need. So
    Safeway (or CVS or whomever) would/should pay for that bump in traffic.
    Boom! More money for the Postal Service. Double Boom! Lower costs for
    vehicles, fuel, etc.

    Make postage reflect the cost of postage. What would FedEx, UPS, et al
    charge to deliver a letter station to station? Person to Station? Person
    to Person? Then charge that too.

    The will still be customers who will want their stuff delivered
    directly to the recipient even if they are box holders. It would be a
    special type of delivery. Oh wait! There used to be something like that
    called Special Delivery. Bring it back. Make it pay. If the sender wants
    his letter picked up from his place of business, they could pay extra
    for that too.

    I am not sure why one would want to turn the post office into a new
    type of bank, but if that’s important to some for reasons I don’t quite
    understand, that could be on the table too.

  • Timothy53

    I understand that you think this was a bad thing, but in 25 years when the USPS retirement obligations take the route of Chrysler, GM, the Railroads and Detroit, won’t you or your children be crying “Why didn’t someone see this coming and make provisions for it? I mean they had the examples of auto industry, the steel industry, the mining industry, and the railroads as examples and they didn’t heed the warnings. Now we have no Postal Service and their retirees have no pensions!”

    But in 25 years or 50 years, you probably won’t care because you’ll be dead. That’s another can to kick down the road, right?

  • Timothy53

    I understand that you think this was a bad thing, but in 25 years when
    the USPS retirement obligations take it the route of Chrysler, GM, the
    Railroads, Steel, Coal, and Detroit, won’t you or your children be crying “Why didn’t
    someone see this coming and make provisions for it? I mean they had the
    examples of auto industry, the steel industry, the mining industry, and
    the railroads as examples and they didn’t heed the warnings. Now we have
    no Postal Service and their retirees have no pensions!”

    But in 25 years or 50 years, you probably won’t care because you’ll be dead. (not being mean or wishing you ill, just saying so) That’s another can to kick down the road, right?

  • Van A. Henson

    Interesting how the true reason the USPS is in financial troubles is ignored.

    The USPS reached it’s Congressionally mandated borrowing limit because it had to start borrowing money to pay into a Congressionally mandated trust fund to pre-fund employee retirement health care 75 years into the future within a 5 year period.

    It would not have had to reach it’s borrowing limit even with that requirement if Congress had returned to it the money that Congress found it had over paid into retiree pension plans for employees who were part of the Postal Department before being employees of the USPS, or even without returning it had just allowed it to be transferred to the new healthcare fund.

    The reason the USPS is in the red and financial peril is Congress not declining volume.

  • Anonymous

    my Aunty Grace got a nearly new blue Kia by
    working part time from the internet. look at this now F­i­s­c­a­l­M­a­z­e­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Anonymous

    Dissenting opinion here…

    Everyone is acting like the USPO *needs* to be saved. Why? The world won’t end if it is discontinued.The USPO no longer serves a indispensable service to people as other companies have stepped in to deliver stuff more efficiently.

    Secondly, usurping the USPO’s stated purpose and *increasing* its charter to cash and deposit checks makes it compete *more* with private enterprise. Government run corporations have a name, it is the dictionary definition of what “fascism” is (not name calling-look it up).

    Just phase out the USPO and watch, the sky won’t fall.

  • JNWesner

    Since corporations exist only to make profit, the providing of services to people has fallen to government, charitable, and non-profit agencies. By going only for profit, companies are leaving a wide swath of service areas unpopulated. People’s needs must be met, and cannot be defined only by what pays for a corporation.

  • JNWesner

    If you are non-minority, non-elderly, non-rural or inner city, you may see no need for a postal service. Not everybody, however, is you.

  • JNWesner

    True, Van, but for “Congress” put “Republicans in Congress.”

  • Anna Kurtz

    It’s a fabulous idea!!!

  • Anonymous

    Funny. I live in rural Wyoming. Closest gas station 45 miles away.

  • Anonymous

    Trouble is that I am subsidizing the USPO with my taxes.

    Now, if I could deduct a percentage from my taxes with an agreement not to use the USPO I would happily comply.

  • NoInfo ToShare

    After having HORRIBLE service and performance with UPS, FedEx (slightly less infuriating), I can still talk to my same mail-carrier who I not only know by name, but also cares about whether or not I get a package.

    As opposed to the string of private/corporate carriers who charge top dollar, lose packages or just “Drop-n-Run” while speeding down my street in their behemoth trucks. Don’t believe the lies that the USPS is a bloated “gub’mit” agency. It’s all part of the National Brainwashing Agenda by Corporate Amerikka.

  • NoInfo ToShare

    I too, wish I could deduct the taxes I pay to have monopolistic, corporate titans to have offshore (tax-free) status or pay for a War Machine that only benefits the wealthy.

  • Anonymous

    One does not preclude the other. I agree that we should not recognize multinational corporations that shuffle money out of the country without paying any taxes.

    The trouble is, both sides have their sacred cows. Both sides need to stop being hypocritical and apply the law to themselves, but right now we have a government (not just Obama) that writes laws and does not follow them from day one. Or they simply ignore the law. Openly.

    It is a scary time indeed.

  • Anonymous

    Then who would pay for a bailout? More stamp buyers? Nope, they want taxpayer money.

  • Dude

    There is no way the postal service is set or should be set up to handle what is
    being proposed. This is a foolish policy / business model. The theory is wonderful the execution would be a nightmare. What is essentially being proposed is setting up a bank for people with below average credit. How can a bank organization premised on serving this demographic ever survive? Even if we assume the mission is to break even, the bank would have to charge very high interest rates and fees to cover the higher than normal bad debt and transaction costs. So, the people with good credit would bank somewhere else. The people with below average credit would bank at the Post Office because it was the lender of last resort. And, yes, if you want to set up a bank, it has to be done in a business like manner. An undertaking like this can’t be set up as a charity or with a benevolent collections process. If you run it in a non business like manner, it will will bleed money.

    This would be a boondoggle of the first order. It would become a bloated,
    money losing mess and a disaster for the Post Office and the taxpayers. This is all very
    well intentioned, but implementing it would be very very difficult. Massive computer systems would have to be set up. Tens of thousands of people would need to be trained and collections departments created. The Post office is broke, so the US government would have to back stop the organization and provide billions of dollars of capital. Look
    at how the affordable care act was implemented. You can’t start a bank or run a bank by government committee.

    If the USPS changed
    its mission, politics would intervene, there would be zillions of new
    make work and patronage jobs created. Massive losses would ensue. The government simply does not do things like this well. It
    never has and it never will.

  • Dude

    What your proposing to support is a bank that serves people with below average credit or even bad credit. How could that possibly be anything but a money losing proposition? This may be the worst idea I have seen in a very long time.

  • Anonymous

    Providing banking services to the “unbanked” is highly unlikely to lose money. The vast majority of services provided now to the unbanked by check cashing services are nearly risk free and enormously profitable. The USPO cashing an ADP payroll check is highly unlikely to be receiving a check that will bounce.

    Accepting cash deposits for small savings accounts can and would be profitable for the USPO.

  • Anonymous

    The PO did nearly all these things for more than 50 years successfully. It could be done so again.

  • Anonymous

    The only organizations in the USA with their conventional pensions fully funded are the Harvard Endowment and Apple. From time to time, Berkshire Hathaway overfunds its pensions, but not always.

  • Anonymous

    You are very seriously mistaken.

  • Dude

    Not a chance this would be profitable unless the PO charged very very high fees just like the pay day lenders. If they have to charge huge fees what’s the point.?This is not a profitable or even a break even demographic for banks. The banks make money if you leave large balances on deposit or take out home loans and car loans etc. They lose money if you are just cashing checks. That is business reality.

  • Anonymous

    So you are saying that the sky *will* fall?

    No comprende.

  • Anonymous

    It would still be petty cash.

  • Van A. Henson

    Actually NO. The Constitution authorizes Congress to maintain Post Roads, not post offices or a postal service. Hence why our interstate highway system is a constitutional expenditure. But the US Postal Department was a governmental overreach and the current USPS isn’t much better but much more acceptable as it pays for itself from it’s own revenue rather than tax money.

  • Van A. Henson

    Except that the Congress in question was controlled by the Democrats and the Bill in question was retaliation for the further “privatization” of the USPS by the former Congress, and was signed by Obama.

  • Invasive Evasion

    I assume that by “USPO” you mean the USPS, the United States Postal Service. No private company has stepped in to offer daily mail service to every address in the country. Since no company offers this, you have no basis for saying they do it more efficiently. The sky wouldn’t fall if we didn’t have the F-22 Raptor, or have tanks built and shipped directly to a boneyard in the desert either. I’m guessing you have no similar outrage over these expenditures that make the postal service look essential by comparison.

    Instead of paying for the cost of a service, you want to pay for the cost of that service, plus an extra amount to further enrich some billionaire shareholders. Let’s do the opposite and replace private enterprise with non-profit cooperatives. In that system the consumer pays only for the cost of the service, the workers receive the full benefit of their labor, and the parasitic plutocrats are eliminated. If you feel a non-profit government sponsored banking service deprives your favorite CEO of an extra mansion or yacht, you can send him a donation. Or perhaps you could find a check cashing service run by con artists and make a donation there.

    Facism is militant nationalism in which a dictator has absolute authority. Non-profit at cost services fall under socialism, which is like capitalism combined with morality.

  • Anonymous

    So why don’t we fix that problem, which is a 21st century problem – lets get every American access to the Internet.

    Instead, we are trying to save a 19th century irrelevant problem. Delivering a piece of paper from one location to another.

    It is like saying instead of making sure every American has access to electricity, lets preserve a system to deliver whale oil and ice blocks to every household in America.

    It is totally crazy thinking.

  • Anonymous

    >”So you concede that you have no idea how much mail service from a private company would cost, and therefore no basis for saying that a private company could do it more efficiently. ”

    Other than the commercial market provides everything else under the sun at prices below government prices…

    >”The F-22 is a 75 billion dollar boondoggle that has NEVER been used in a combat mission.”

    It has never been used in combat because it is brand new.

    >”Believing that “foreign bombs fall on us from the sky” without it is paranoid fiction.”

    Read some history please. Circa 1941.

    >”I mention the F-22 because conservative opposition to government spending miraculously evaporates when it’s for something that involves killing people or blowing things up.”

    That’s because the #1 duty of the government is to defend its citizens from attack…not providing pensions for government workers for the next half-century.

    >”I am not betrayed by my bias, I am openly advocating a moral position. The pursuit of profits has corrupted our system of government, destroyed the environment, created a two class system of billionaire parasites and working poor who don’t benefit from their own labor, and siphoned off so much wealth that the economy cannot function.”

    You anger is misplaced. It is not the pursuit of “profits” that is the cause for the problems you identify, it is the unequal application of the law. In other words, the political class does not prosecute those who give them large campaign contributions. Thus, those like Warren Buffet, can violate the law, steal millions, and get away with it.

    Ask yourself why the Clintons were not thrown in prison for Whitewater (insider futures trading) and Bush et al did not get thrown in prison for Enron, and you will see that they are simply a protected class. The ‘little people’ that break such laws get thrown in prison for decades. They do not.


    >”You still do not understand the difference between socialism and fascism.”

    “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”

    – Benito Mussolini.

    >”Having a government run industry such as healthcare is socialism.”

    If your brand of “Socialism” merges state and corporate power (like the government operating healthcare) then it is “fascist” by definition. Read Mussolini’s quote again.

    >”Most people believe that rewards should be in proportion to contributions,…”

    How about “risk”? Why should I create a new company, a new technology, a new *anything* if I am not sure that I will be compensated? Currently, the “reward” for doing something new and getting it right is “profit”. What do you propose to replace that incentive with?

  • Anonymous

    Oh where to begin…

    Medicare may charge only $20 but you pay the extra in taxes. Add that in.

    F22: you are being ridiculous. Of course the F22 didn’t travel back in time (ugh), I am saying that our isolationist policies and small military allowed us to be attacked.

    I don’t see how I am “making my case for you” by pointing to corruption as the cause of economic disparities. You are saying that corruption is the result of the quest for profit; I am saying that profit does not require corruption. Simply look at all of the corrupt socialist dictatorships out there. According to you they cannot be corrupt as there is no profit in their economy…

    My reference to Mussolini is important because he INVENTED Fascism. His definition is not irrelevant.

    “parasitic billionaire”

    Why do you hate billionaires? Some of them actually do earn it. Even if they just got lucky…so what? What’s wrong about good luck?

    “We as a society should provide certain services for each other, not because of greed, but because we need them.”

    Good luck with that.

  • Anne Mallin

    If Staples is bought by a Chinese businessman, (as many weak American businessmen are poor financial planners)……….. our privacy will be non-existent.
    Ask any business person if they planned to pay for their toxic sludge, pay workers a good wage, pay the costs of clean air emissions or keeping our world clean.
    Their answer is always, “No, to do those things I would be broke.”
    I say let them go overseas.We’ll have another Boston Tea Party and not buy anything manufactured outside of the U.S. !!
    The Post office we trust and they are American citizens with REAL Social Security numbers, not working as a citizen wanna be for a Walmarts or Staples .
    We have too many people here that want to push Americans over the edge financially.
    China doesn’t need guns to take us over, they made ALL their money from NAFTA and China didn’t buy anything from us because we have laws to protect kids, what we eat, what we breathe and the water we drink.
    Now keep them out of the US businesses. Isn’t melamine in baby formula and cat and dog food enough for them?
    Putting lead in paint for Fisher Price toys?
    Importing chicken to our US schools …. and McDonalds where they throw it on the floor and the meat is old?
    Just say NO !
    No more “broke” corporations selling out to Chinese businessmen !
    They bought the Dayton Ohio power plant two years ago and told all the people this winter they had to turn their heat down to 65 or they would have blackouts!
    Everyone was freezing to death because they threaten people !

  • Anne Mallin

    That is a wonderful idea ! Tell your Senator and Congressman in a letter, they do listen to us.

  • Anne Mallin

    Don’t buy Walmart anything. If you want Chinese imports , and illegal immigrants here, then buy from them.
    Walmart is the biggest thief of American citizens for jobs and the largest importer of products made outside of the US.
    Anyone dumb enough to shop at Walmart is not worthy of living in the US.
    They don’t read or care about anything significant.

  • Anne Mallin

    Great ideas !!