Dunagin: President may trump Postal Service

By CHARLES DUNAGIN GUEST COLUMNIST,

If Donald Trump puts the U.S. Postal Service out of business, I wonder how I’ll get all those letters asking me to send money to help re-elect him.

I guess the Republican National committee or whatever group is sending out that mail with a message from the president will have to resort to email like Democrat Mike Espy is doing in his efforts to raise campaign money to try to unseat Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in this year’s election.

Espy, or someone representing him, sends me several emails a week, updating me on the campaign and asking for money. Not as well financed as his opponent, who probably has a lock on the seat, Espy obviously sees email blasts as a cheaper way to communicate than mass mailings.

That may be one of the Postal Service’s problems as well as his. Not as many people are using the mail since the advent of instant electronic written communication.

But I still get mail, much of it unwanted, from politicians and special interest groups.

I have in the past voted in both Democratic and Republican primaries, not in the same election of course.

I’m a crossover voter who tends to consider the candidates who most closely reflect my values in deciding in which primary I’ll cast a ballot. Sometimes it has more to do with voting against a candidate than for an opponent.

Since my name can show up as voting in both Democrat and Republican primaries,  mailers working for both parties treat me like a loyal partisan which I am not in either camp.

I have received mail from both Donald Trump and Barack Obama, or at least that’s what they make the envelope look like. I don’t personally know either one, and they certainly have never heard of me.

Sometimes there’s a long questionnaire asking my opinion on significant issues. Always there’s a detailed explanation on how to send a financial contribution as well as an explanation of how badly it’s needed.

I got one the other day which the envelope indicated was from “Rand Paul, United States Senator.” Turned out the Kentucky senator is advocating for the National Pro-Life Alliance’s effort to reverse Roe v. Wade.

One thing I’ll say about the Postal Service. It has come through during the cornavirus pandemic, getting mail and packages delivered in a timely manner, at least as far as I can tell.

Now the president is  threatening to withhold a $10 billion line of credit approved by Congress in a coronavirus stimulus package unless the Postal Service increases what it charges to deliver packages.

A particular  target is Amazon, and it probably is no coincidence that Amazon’s founder and chief executive  Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post which Trump considers an enemy.

According to recent national news reports, Trump could get his way.

Every member of the Postal Service’s bipartisan governing board is now a Trump appointee, and one of his allies will soon become  postmaster general.

The Washington Post reported a few days ago: “The Postal Service in recent weeks has sought bids from consulting firms to reassess what it charges companies such as Amazon, UPS and FedEx to deliver products on their behalf — often in the ‘last mile’ between a post office and a customer’s home. Higher package rates would cost shippers and online retailers billions of dollars, potentially spurring them to invest in their own distribution networks instead of relying on the Postal Service.”

That “last mile” in the paragraph above is misleading. It could amount to several miles in a sparsely populated Mississippi county where UPS, for example, is taking advantage of the Postal Service’s infrastructure to deliver packages.

The Postal Service has been losing money for years, so maybe Trump is right in pushing the agency to raise rates on Amazon and other big shippers. Maybe not.

What I do know is that when and if delivery rates increase, it won’t be the companies doing the shipping that pay the extra freight. It’ll be those of us on the other end.

And it probably will hit hardest on places like rural Mississippi.

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