Saturday, March 9, 2013

Write Not a Post-Mortem for the Post Office

There is much discussion of late about the U.S. Postal Service and what needs to be done about it, considering that it is perpetually in the "red."  Uh..., Hello!  The framers did not perceive of the service as something that should make money; they considered it a fundamental public service necessary to make the Republic strong.

There were few things the national government properly/lawfully could do [if one believes in the Constitution as more than a quaint icon to be stored away in the National Archives and dusted off on the 4th of July and Constitution Day], and they were largely defined by Article 1, section 8, and among them were the power to establish a post office and post roads.

The framers understood that a healthy polity required easy and inexpensive communication among its members, and between its members and its government, and that was the role of the post office.  It was to facilitate values that were later enshrined in the First Amendment.  Indeed, it was an instrument to help give voice to the later enacted First Amendment [whose unstated values inhered in the people's existence long before the framing].

Ben Franklin was the first postmaster general under colonial government, and then the crown fired him for consorting with revolutionaries[!], and he then became the first postmaster general under the continental congress.  A peron of his his legendary and titanic stature did not run a "business" to help get the Ladies Home Journal to frustrated matrons; he ran an operation that both the crown and the colonists understood to be vital to a healthy government, whether that government be royal or revolutionary, or republican.

The fact that the current post office has trouble competing with e-mail and various private organizations is irrelevant to the question of whether it should be sacked, because it is not supposed to be a business but a public service.

We should no more eliminate the post office because of its red ink than we should the military, because neither was intended to make a profit, and both are essential to the maintenance of a free Republic.

Indeed, the question of "red ink" pressupposes that its ideal is to run in the black, and it is not - it was not conceived of as a business, and the fools that took it out of cabinet status and tried to contort it into being a public business were as ignorant of constitutional intents as are so many in government these days on this and other topics.

Return the post office to cabinet, public service status, drop the business model, and let it serve the public in the fashion originally intended.