Colonial America had a postal system before we had a country. Ben Franklin was appointed as Postmaster General by the Continental Congress in 1775 as a show of defiance to King George. The Founding Fathers knew that a postal system was essential to the growth and prosperity of our new nation. The Postal Clause in the U.S. Constitution empowered Congress “To establish Post Offices and Post Roads.”
The postal service has been a vital part of the American story ever since. It has brought us together, facilitated unprecedented economic growth and enriched our lives. Despite the risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic, postal workers have gone about their day-to-day work of delivering the mail. In fact, they are just now delivering 90 million campaign-style letters from the President, congratulating him for those stimulus payments.
Like every other business, the Postal Service has had a drop in revenues, largely because of a substantial reduction in business mailings. The President has called the Postal Service a “joke” and has refused its request for emergency funding to carry out its critical work. Trump is sore because the Service has failed to carry out his demand to quadruple the amount it charges for delivering packages for Amazon. The Service points out that it makes money on the Amazon contract, that it has no basis to increase charges, and that such a large increase would drive away a profitable part of its business.
The President’s purpose is to punish Jeff Bezos, the multi-billionaire founder of Amazon, who also happens to own the Washington Post newspaper. Trump is mad at the Washington Post because of what he views as unfavorable coverage. It is true that the paper often prints Trump quotes, but that is not necessarily unfair and it provides little justification for punishing the Postal Service. Essentially, Trump is using the financial plight of the Service as a means of carrying out a vendetta against a perceived political enemy.
Rural America will suffer severe collateral damage from Trump’s vendetta, unless he changes course and provides the financial relief the Postal Service desperately needs. If there is a part of the postal business that does not pay its way, it is rural free delivery. Revenue is not the critical issue here; it is serving a vital need of country folk. We have always taken it for granted that each local community will have a Post Office and that mail will be delivered to mailboxes in the country, regardless of party affiliation.
That brings me to the role my Postmaster, Mary Jane Kelly, played in my community of Eden, Idaho 83325. Mary Jane worked about 40 years in the Eden Post Office, beginning as an assistant in the 1960s. She was appointed Postmaster in January 1973 and served in that role until February 2005, when she retired at age 83. She was not just a person who parceled out the mail. She was an important part of the glue that held the community together.
Mary Jane greeted you with a smile, she knew what was going on in the community, she played an important part in community affairs, she made us feel good about who we were. My daughter, Kathy, loved her and called her Grandma Kelly. Kathy’s daughter, Kylee, met Mary Jane in her late 80s and also remembers her as Grandma Kelly.
There are thousands of postal employees in over 30,000 postal facilities across the nation who provide valuable mail services, while also making important contributions to their communities. Over 100,000 of them are military veterans. They handle about 48% of the world’s mail volume and do a remarkable job of getting it delivered in a timely manner. They are not a joke and do not deserve to be demeaned or ill used in political games.
Idahoans can contact members of the Idaho Congressional delegation to demand that the Postal Service not be held political hostage by anyone. Our Mary Jane Kellys are too important to the well-being of local communities.