Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why we still need the USPS

As Atrios often says, you can't follow everything, so I haven't really been following the travails of the US Postal Service all that closely. I was concerned when I heard they want to lay off 120,000 workers because that ties into the economy and unemployment which I have been following. But I didn't really stop to think about what closing down a lot of post offices would mean to the public generally.

This comes up because Tony Fratto tweeted something about never using the post office yesterday. I exchanged a tweet with him about it but it didn't occur to me I should get irritated with him over it. Even though he's an ex-Bushie whom I disagree with 98% of the time, I rather like the guy outside of our political differences. I assumed he was just making a off hand observation, as we all do on the twitter.

Apparently, since I don't follow twitter fights, or most of the big name tweeters, I missed the spat he had with Marcy Wheeler over it. Marcy, better known as emptywheel at Fire Dog Lake, now has her own website and posted about the the importance of the post office to the poor, disabled and elderly. She makes good points about why we should defend the service and try to stop the closings of local offices.

Also, having lived in cities for so long now, I forgot how much of rural America still doesn't have broadband access. Much of western Mass still doesn't and they've been trying really hard to get the ISPs to provide it for well over a decade now. So the PO access is more important in these places for that reason as well, and it's precisely in those sparsely populated areas where they want to close the little local offices to save the money.

So, while I think Marcy was a little too harsh with Tony, her point is valid and well taken. If our government can drop billions on weapons of mass destruction and other foreign nation building, they should certainly be able to spend some of our tax dollars on keeping the PO alive for the Americans who need it.

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