Sosa: Fund the USPS, especially through the election

Columnist Zoami Calles-Rios Sosa explains the operations of funding USPS while discouraging the current defund. 

Zoami Calles-Rios Sosa

The United States Postal Service (USPS) must always be adequately funded and should not be undermined or dismantled because our country’s democracy depends on it. Recently, President Donald Trump called USPS a “joke” and doesn’t want to fund it amid the financial crisis. He claims he wants to ensure the November elections’ integrity. As if the businessman himself did not understand simple business economics: no funding, no business. 

To be completely fair to the president, the agency has been flailing before he took office.

Enshrined in the Constitution

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution lays out some of the powers Congress has, and “To establish Post Offices and post Roads” is one of them. If we know anything about the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, it’s that words were carefully chosen and sentences crafted in ways to try to give directives to our nation for generations to come.

If the Founding Fathers thought it appropriate and necessary to add this to the Constitution, then perhaps they had better foresight than we did.

Everyone gets served

Let’s be clear: not everyone gets mail. We have a homelessness problem, along with a few other issues that contribute. However, if you have an address, whether yours, rented or a friend’s, you will most certainly be getting mail from the USPS. It is built so the system does not care whether you are a Democrat, Republican, independent, nonconforming or whatever else you may identify with. 

If you are gay, straight, somewhere in between or entirely outside the bell curve, it doesn’t matter. You will get your mail regardless. This is so important, especially given the environment we find ourselves in today. 

Could you imagine if you were denied the option to get deliveries to your address simply because you held different views than the people in charge of mail deliveries?

The costs of privatization

Privatizing infrastructure can function. Have you traveled on a tolled road? Like the ones in Illinois? There are like no potholes, everything is neat and there is plenty of room to drive comfortably. This is what happens when privatization works. It doesn’t always.

Just ask our very own Gov. Kim Reynolds about our Medicaid privatization fiasco. To be just, this was not her original doing but that of Gov. Terry Branstad. Technically he started the process in 2015, and in May of 2017, Gov. Reynolds went from lieutenant governor to full-time governor. She has had plenty of time to make changes, yet problem after problem persists.

Guess who is on the hook for all the costs associated with taking a public organization private? Taxpayers!

Also, what happens when USPS doesn’t want to go there? Or deliver there? What do we do? Or when there are problems, like a pandemic, and their business model suffers, and we need to bail them out? Would we have any other choice but to bail them out?

Remember private organizations serve one primary purpose, and that is to make a profit. If a company isn’t interested in a profit, it would be a nonprofit or a public organization. Government-run organizations, like city-run utilities, cannot just decide to quit serving customers. 

Bleeding red

In the fiscal year 2019, the USPS lost $8.8 billion. That’s more than twice it’s previous year’s loss of $3.8 million. It has been in the red for 13 years now. The reality is that, as a government agency, there are a lot of restrictions that make it hard for the USPS to be a successful business. This is why Congress needs to stop dilly-dallying and make this a priority in the years to come.

In the meantime, we must ensure our USPS is fully and completely funded to process the votes that will be cast through the mail system. Our democracy depends on it.

Democracy through the mail

We live in uncertain times, but let’s be sure of something: regardless of whether you vote for Trump, Biden or write in an alternate candidate, all American citizens should have the peace of mind that their votes through the mail are secure and can be handled efficiently without delay. 

We should realize the importance of that because not always will our party be in power. The tides do turn. Let’s not cut off our arms to spite our brothers and sisters, but rather think long term and make the best decisions for our country. After all, isn’t that what we all want?