It was one thing that Christmas presents and Christmas cards came a little late due to delays from the US Postal Service. In fact, some people found it a little fun, and a little enjoyable, to receive a gift a month or more late and be able to extend the holiday cheer. What’s not to laugh about is all the other heartache, inconvenience and threats to people’s livelihoods and health that the delivery delays have caused. And there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to the trouble.
People’s bill payments do not reach creditors and banks on time. And the W-2 forms were also delayed. Renters find themselves in arrears with rent payments and home owners find themselves mortgage. Prescription drugs that are essential for life do not arrive on time, and products and stocks of companies languish in distribution facilities. Speeding tickets and other traffic violations happen after or after a fine is due. Maryland Congressional Democrats received so many complaints from voters that they wrote Postmaster General Louis DeJoy a letter asking him to do something to improve mail delivery, saying he could start by reversing any cost reduction that he had put in place. Individuals also express their grievances on social networks.
Much of the problem is that the USPS is experiencing an unprecedented package crash amid a surge in pandemic-linked online shopping, and the busy holiday season has made it all worse with a record 1.1 billion dollars. packages sent. Add to that employees missing from work or needing to be quarantined due to COVID-19 cases and winter storms, and it all seems to be working against the agency. DeJoy didn’t help matters over the summer when he made operational changes to cut costs, he said, although they were widely seen as an attempt to interfere with the ‘presidential election. Either way, the moves, which included the dismantling of 600 mail sorting machines across the country, only hurt services.
There are calls to fire DeJoy from his job, something some had hoped would happen under new administration. Unfortunately it is not easy. President Joe Biden does not hire or fire the Postmaster General, as this is the responsibility of the USPS Board of Governors. What Biden can do is quickly appoint people to the three vacancies on the nine-member board. The American Postal Workers Union has asked the president to nominate Democrats to give them a majority on the board. But at the very least, it should fill it with people who want to overhaul the system beyond the random cuts and who recognize the problems that existed even before the pandemic.
The USPS needs people with a vision on how to make the agency creditworthy and who are not hampered by vested interests. A May 2020 report from the Government Accountability Office said that the current USPS business model is not financially sustainable due to three main issues: declining mail volumes, increasing compensation costs and benefits. social security, and rising debt and unfunded debt – the latter coming mainly from hundreds of millions of dollars in pension and retirement costs. And that was before DeJoy took over, and just months after the start of the pandemic.
The GAO report also noted that Congress will have to take the lead in any overhaul because of laws that restrict what the Postal Service can do. Past attempts at legislation have been driven by vested interests politics and opposition. It is time for lawmakers to compromise between different interests. Bailout talks are all great, but investing money to fix a problem only helps if the fundamental issues are resolved.
The new chairman of the USPS board seems to understand this concept. Ron Bloom, Democrat and former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, was elected to the post last week. “It will require both ourselves and our stakeholders to come together, to face our challenges openly, to make the necessary choices and to do what is right for this great organization and our country”, a- he said in a statement. Let’s see if he can do it. The postal service with all its problems is still a basic need in this country.
In the meantime, short-term fixes are needed to address the real challenges facing Americans whose lives disruptive mail delays. We hope DeJoy takes seriously the call from Maryland lawmakers and disgruntled voters. Long-term structural solutions are one thing, but it doesn’t help the elderly man who needs his blood pressure medication.
– The Baltimore sun