USPS still a 'bargain' despite Republican sabotage: columnist
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is seeking approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) for another rate hike. If approved, the cost of a first-class stamp would increase from 63 cents to 66 cents, effective July 9.
Kevin Yoder, executive director of the consumer group Keep Us Posted, was quick to criticize Postmaster General Louis DeJoy — a Donald Trump appointee — for the move.
"Rate hikes of this frequency are unprecedented and unsustainable," Yoder said in an official statement. "If left unchecked, DeJoy will plow ahead with additional stamp increases every few months, even though data shows that they put the squeeze on the American public and diminish mail volume. DeJoy's rate strategy is shortsighted and needs to be rejected by the Postal Regulatory Commission in the name of protecting this critical public service."
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But liberal Washington Post opinion writer Paul Waldman, in his April 17 column, stresses that even with this rate hike, the U.S. Postal Service remains a major bargain — especially considering postal rates in many other developed countries.
"Before you start painting your protest placard," Waldman writes, "you should know that the United States enjoys some of the lowest postal rates in the developed world. So if the Postal Service wants a few more cents, we ought to cough them up."
Waldman goes on to cite German postal company Deutsche Post's 2022 data for postal rates in a long list of European countries. When those rates for a first-class stamp are converted to U.S. dollars from European currencies, they range from 82 cents in Spain, 93 cents in Germany and $1.21 in the U.K. to $4.25 in Denmark, $3.05 in Italy, $2.07 in Greece and $2.06 in Belgium. Only about five European countries, according to Deutsche Post figures, have lower postal rates than the U.S. for a first-class stamp — including Hungary and Bulgaria at 61 cents and Malta at 33 cents.
"Nearly every European country charges more to mail a letter than the U.S. Postal Service does," Waldman notes. "In some cases, it's many times more. Think about that for a moment…. For that small fee, the Postal Service will come to your house or business, retrieve a letter from your mailbox, take it anywhere in the country and deliver it to the recipient within days."
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Waldman observes that for 66 cents, Americans will be able to send a letter from Key West, Florida to Utqiagvik, Alaska 4283 miles away. And he adds that "far-flung rural areas" benefit greatly from the U.S. Postal Service — areas that typically "vote for the party that hates government."
The columnist is referring, of course, to the Republican Party — which Democrats have been hammering for their efforts to undermine the Postal Service. One of them is long-time Democratic Wisconsin State Sen. Robert Wirch, who has been serving in the Wisconsin State Legislature since the early 1990s.
In a short article headlined "Republican Attacks on the Postal Service Threaten our American Way of Life" and posted on his website, Wirch argued, "There is a long history of Republican animosity toward the Postal Service, preferring private, for-profit businesses take over our deliveries…. Careers in postal service are family-supporting jobs. The U.S. Postal Service is one of the country's largest employers of veterans, with nearly 100,000 vets working as postal employees."
The 79-year-old Wirch is vehemently critical of DeJoy, a Republican donor appointed in May 2020 under then-President Donald Trump. After Biden was sworn in as president on January 20, 2021, many Democrats called for DeJoy to be replaced. But he remains in that position 27 months into Biden's presidency.
Waldman is not a defender of Trump ally DeJoy, but he is most definitely a defender of the U.S. Postal Service and believes that a three-cent rate increase is not unreasonable in light of everything the Postal Service does.
The Post columnist argues, "The public understands how valuable the Postal Service is. It has long been one of the most popular agencies in the federal government, and despite the jokes some people make about lines at the post office, the truth is that it performs an almost unimaginably large task with remarkable efficiency. And all it costs you is a few coins. So if the price of a letter goes from 63 cents to 66 cents? We can probably manage it."
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Read Paul Waldman's full Washington Post opinion column at this link (subscription required).
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