The post office is vital to the infrastructure of communication and absolutely must be saved.

For many, the post office means delivery of monthly medication and social security checks. It's the receiving of monthly bills and the sending of payment. It's delivery of the newspaper that keeps you up to date on what's happening in your community. It's campaign flyers and safety alerts. For many, it has been silver bullet pens earned from collecting cereal box tops.

A community's post office is a vital public service that extends beyond politics, income, race and all else.

While 2020 may be a digital wonderland, digital access isn't as ubiquitous as access to a mailbox.

In northeast Oklahoma, four out of 10 homes do not have access to broadband connectivity. They're likely not doing online bill pay and the like. For these folks, and for so many, the traditional mail service is their means of communication with the world. These people are not connected but by the post office.

The post office is a national service and should be seen as such.

To privatize it is to treat it like a business, which operates much differently than government ought to.

Private companies should not be gatekeeping our communication. Our ability to share and connect with the world around us should not be at the mercy of private business.

As the Boston letter carriers said in a recent commercial that went viral: “We’re in every town. We deliver to every house, every day. The infrastructures can’t be matched. If they privatize this institution we will be at the mercy of corporations and we all know they have no mercy.”

The new United States postmaster general is bringing in his expertise from private industry and applying it to public service. But government is not business. Government is about service to the people—even those most vulnerable.

There will be times that it does not make financial sense to do what is for the good of the people. That's called service above self. It's about empathy and democracy.

Removing a post office letter box because it doesn't get enough use is telling those that do use it that they are less important than others, that their voice matters less and that lepton them participate in communication (and democracy) isn't worthwhile.

No one expects a police department to make money. No one expects firefighters to turn a profit. This is service over self.

In an effort to fight for privatization of the post office, people have pointed to the lack of profit. And while that clearly shouldn’t matter, the post office has, until recently, been turning a profit.

A recent documentary from Business Insider pointed out that the United States Postal Service has been delivering mail since before the Declaration of Independence was even signed and that President George Washington signed the postal service act.

“The post office operated at a loss in the first couple years of the 21st Century but by 2003 was back to operating at a profit. In fact, from 2003 to 2006 USPS recorded a total of $9.3 billion profit. If not for the 75 year pension and healthcare obligation the USPS would have reported operating profit for the last 6 years.”

The USPS was the only government office required, in the 2006 act, to pay the 75 years of pension at once—for employees that haven’t even been hired yet.

It’s a valuable public institution. It’s part of our history and crucial to our democracy. The post office is crucial to democracy and communication.

Removing access to post offices further widens the already monumental gaps between the wealthy and the underserved.

Claremore Progress Editorial Board

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