Save the Post Office

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2010-03-09

It seems that there has been a continuing retrenching of many social services that our federal government has heretofore traditionally always supported, many of those services and public needs having been partially, or sometimes almost wholly, privatized -- by federal or local edict.

(I first became aware of it in the 80s when working at the Federal Building in Chicago and I learned that the total cleaning-and-grounds service people were fired and a private contract for the services put out for bid. The people finally hired to fill the jobs were paid minimum wages on an hourly basis, mostly non English-speaking. The contractor, of course, made out like a demon.)

Since then we have heard of the privatizing of roads, many parts of the military, other government administrative offices, significant parts of our Post Office, and more and other federal and local public service areas. And the perplexing and problematic trend continues now into even larger federal and local areas -- like the privatizing of our public schools (Obama). Another vital area again threatened with privatization possibly is our Social Security (!)

This retrenching-and-privatizing development has always been justified by (1) saving of taxpayer money, and (2) business is "more efficient" at the same task. (I would hazard to guess that both of those justifications, in the large picture, judging from independent reports, are far from true.)

But on the community level we as consumers have been, and are increasingly, being made to pay -- for the profitability to those private firms of those privatized former government services. Prices to the public for each privatized service are much higher after privatization and are continually rising for each service -- and this development has happened because the government has no discretionary money left to pay for them -- as it claims.

This, of course, is a political issue where priorities becomes the question at issue. For some, the fact that our government pays out 58 percent of our discretionary budget, every year, for the military -- not including the cost of the 2 current wars -- is a fact out of mind. (But many congressmen have agreed with Barney Frank who seriously suggested that our military budget could be cut by 25 percent and we would still have a larger military than the total of all other countries combined.)

Instead of viewing it as a question of political priorities, the public is made to feel that these monstrous military expenditures are somehow the "natural" state of affairs, and any other way of viewing the eliminating of public/social services is beyond the pale and -- it might be "self-indulgent" to think of saving our dwindling public services for the public.

(Here in Highland Park, Illinois, we become aware of it with our own little Ravinia P.O. I don't believe it's "self-indulgent" to wish to preserve this small, useful community postal service that, as someone else said, gives to Ravinia a local sense of special neighborhood, a special, complete and functioning home place -- (not to speak of the specter of waiting in even longer lines at the downtown post office if that were the only service available) That scenario would again be the public paying, in time lost, for another government service cut-back.

Is the question of our sense of community priorities important enough for us to try to fight to save our homely but beautiful public service local post office? I believe it is, or should be. I think Ravinia Neighbors should be at the forefront of this priority.)