The value of a government-owned postal service

— I remember reading a piece by a right-wing think-tank in 1990 calling for the privatization of the postal service. Their argument was fairly simple: it would allegedly save money. Although there were many refutations of this sick argument at that time— and since— the argument continues to be raised. And, as with any disease, if you do not stop it in its tracks, it continues to grow.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been under constant assault. Despite the suggestions that it is financially broke, the reality is that it is making money and at no cost to the taxpayer. What happened, however, was that Congress mandated that the postal service pre-fund their retirement for 75 years. No organization is ever asked to do this, but in demanding that the postal service make this commitment, Congress was putting a financial albatross around the neck of the postal service. And that ‘albatross’ also became a means to make demands that the USPS restructure itself.

We need a fully public postal service. For one it is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, a fact that many people do not realize. Second, a public postal service means that everyone within the U.S. is subject to the same rate. A first class stamp will get your letter from D.C. to New York, but it will also get that letter to rural Michigan at no additional cost. Should the postal service be privatized, you can be guaranteed that that would change since the economics of the “market” would intervene making postal delivery to isolated and relatively isolated areas far more costly than mail between major metropolitan areas.

Efforts to privatize the postal service are taking subtle and not-so-subtle forms. As we can see from other experiments in privatization, in order to prepare the public for privatization it is important to discredit the public delivery of a specific service. This is most often done by financially strangling the institution, whether it is sanitation, water, education, or, in this case, the postal service. So, in the case of the postal service we have witnessed the reduction in the workforce; the shortening of hours in post offices; the shuttering and threat to shutter mail processing, facilities; and the threat to reduce the number of days for mail delivery. The result of all such actions is the demoralization of the customer base and an opening to convince them that privatization is the path of deliverance.

While it is true that first class mail is and has been declining, packages, catalogues, etc., have become a very significant component of the mail stream. Yes, you can order almost anything on line, but the products have to be delivered by someone and that usually comes down to the U.S. Postal Service, United Parcel Service or FedEx. In a December 2014 study conducted by Consumer Reports, the USPS either tied for top rating (with UPS and FedEx) or was at the top by itself in terms of overall satisfaction and approval for its performance. Therefore, contrary to the myths that have been propagated, the postal service is both efficient and competent.

We need to protect the U.S. Postal Service and our right to a public postal system. Once it is lost to the private sector, all bets are off in terms of what we will be handed in return.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the host of The Global African on Telesur-English. He is a racial justice, labor and global justice writer and activist. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at

Take me out to the ballgame

— Opening day for Major League Baseball always puts a smile on my face. This is the day that many of us treat as the actual beginning of spring. While snow can always appear, you know that warmer days are ahead. Yet, this is also a day when I think about a tragic injustice that is associated with Major League Baseball: the fact that both Curt Flood and Marvin Miller have not been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.


Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Curt Flood, who served with distinction as an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, was the player who was willing to risk it all in order to legally challenge baseball’s “reserved clause,” which held players in the equivalent of indentured servitude to their teams. Flood’s case went to the U.S. Supreme Court where he lost in one of the strangest decisions in court history. Yet the stand that he took and the terrible stain that this placed on Major League Baseball cracked open a door that had been locked during the 20th century.

It was the Major League Baseball Players Association led by the iconic Marvin Miller that was ultimately able to break down the door and introduce “free agency,” the system through which the players were finally able to receive respectable compensation for all that they put into the game. Miller led in the building of the Player’s Association and the transformation of baseball.

Despite these major contributions, the candidacies of both of these now deceased individuals has been shot down when their names were submitted for consideration in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The only rationale for denying them their place in that roster of stars appears to have been that they chose to fight the system rather than roll over. The Hall of Fame is supposed to acknowledge those who have made substantial contributions to baseball. If that is the case, how can such individuals be denied their place?

Regardless of the rhetoric, the only way that this injustice will be overturned is when sports fans let their voices be heard, and heard loudly. Baseball fans in particular need to ensure that the owners of baseball franchises and the sports media as well understand that we–the fans–know something about what has made baseball what it is today. Courage and defiance are two of those factors. Nothing could better characterize Curt Flood and Marvin Miller.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a racial justice, labor and global justice writer and activist. He is also a baseball fan, if you have not guessed. Follow him on Facebook and at: