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O joy, we may get to keep our local post offices after all?

By: Keith Kappes
Columnist
Carter County Times

When Louis DeJoy was appointed postmaster general during the Trump Administration last summer, he pledged to modernize the U. S. Postal Service and end its annual operating losses of about $30 billion.

However, the millionaire businessman said postal services would cost more and deliveries would be slower as a result of a 10-year master plan he was developing. 

He is a former trucking executive who raised millions of dollars for Republican candidates and made major personal donations to the Trump campaign.

Soon after taking office in June 2020, DeJoy promptly made changes that slowed mail delivery. With the presidential election approaching, he was accused of trying to sabotage vote-by-mail efforts by eliminating overtime for letter carriers, discarding older mail sorting equipment and eliminating a number of neighborhood mailboxes. 

Criticism of his leadership went viral during the holiday shopping season when online retailers discovered the postal service could not handle its shrinking share of packages. 

Senior citizens howled that their pension checks and mail order medical prescriptions were chronically late, even life-threatening delays at times.

In testimony before Congress just last week, the postmaster general promised that his efforts to make the postal service more competitive would not include ending six-day delivery or closing rural or small post offices. But he warned again that USPS service standards would be “relaxed” as a means of cutting costs. 

In fairness, Congress must find a way to eliminate the requirement that that the postal service pay its pension and health care obligations in advance to the federal government. 

For example, enrolling postal employees in government-retiree health plan Medicare alone would save an estimated $5 billion a year for the largest postal organization in the world.

At this point, those of us who live in rural America should take comfort in DeJoy’s pledge to keep our local post offices in operation, even with reduced window hours and constantly rising postage costs.

Considering the level of customer unhappiness and the postal system’s worn-out delivery vehicles and other equipment, perhaps it’s time for our dedicated postal workers to receive hazardous duty pay just for showing up to work.

Keith Kappes can be reached at keithkappes@gmail.com

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