If you want to know the byzantine story of how the Federal Government took a profitable institution called the U.S. Post Office and made it look like a cross-eyed loser, the story has been well told here. (Believe it or not, the trouble began when the government discovered the Post Office had surplus funds.) But the fact is that there are mighty big cuts coming down the pipeline for the P.O. -- above and beyond the Saturday closings announced today. The fact is, we should be investing more in the post office to modernize it because millions of people still count on its service. But Republicans who keep shouting for smaller government (even if it actually helps people) and defanged Democrats will let it happen unless someone kicks up a serious ruckus. But who is going to fight the fight? Who cares about the silly little post office? Well, I'd like to suggest these mighty folks might want to start rolling up their sleeves and come out swinging:
#1: Jeff Bezos
The chairman and CEO of Amazon is making big loud investments into the digital age. But his bread and butter for the foreseeable future involves shipping solid goods to customers. That's why Amazon is busy building two million-dollar square foot warehouses, one of which they just announced last week. Amazon's success has largely been built on two things: price and convenience. But if people grow frustrated waiting for the disemboweled post office to deliver their order, especially around the holidays, and if they also have to pay more for private shipping then, whoops, there goes Amazon's competitive advantage.
#2: John Donahoe
The president and CEO of eBay knows they aren't going digital anytime soon; they are the world's biggest yard sale and the postal service is the last link in their grassroots supply chain. (Even if it's UPS, it's often coming via U.S. Postal Service since USPS is the only one with universal infrastructure.) eBay should be desperately fighting for the post office in a frothing tooth-and-nail donnybrook that fires up their enormous army of homegrown sellers to join in the battle too, before customers get tired of sitting around waiting for the garden gnomes to show up in the mail and start cruising actual yard sales to find them. (eBay and Amazon have a combined market cap just shy of $200 billion, add on all the other companies affected, and you go far beyond a quarter of a trillion. Thinking about it at that scale and it seems like gutting the service that lets those companies serve their customers efficiently might just have an effect on the overall economy, right?)
#3: S.I. Newhouse Jr.
An eviscerated post office is certainly going to hurt magazine delivery, another blow for Newhouse's Conde Nast that was already down over 4 percent last year. The post office provides them with an affordable, convenient way to reach their customers and while one can argue that publishing is ultimately going to go all digital, that day hasn't arrived yet (attention Reed Hastings, it ain't there yet for Netflix either) and the last thing Conde Nast -- not to mention Time, Hearst and Meredith -- needs is another drag on their business model. So listen up boys, tell your editors to put the scandalous deboning of the Postal Service on the cover of your next issue, 'cause the issue after that is gonna come too late.
#4: Benjamin Todd Jealous
The head of the NAACP undoubtedly recognizes that African-American workers are 20 percent of the postal service's labor force. So if you're fighting for African-American jobs, this is the frontline. You can begin by pointing out that it wasn't the failure of the postal workers that caused this crisis; it was the failure of the government leadership and the bozo budget & pension math that created this ungodly mess.
#5: Robert Romasco:
If I was the head of the AARP I would be making this one of the biggest fights of the year and if I was a retired person and the AARP didn't fight for me on this one, I would scream like a hellish banshee. For retired people, the mail is a crucial link to the outside world, getting Social Security checks, medical bills, and more. Slowing that down is only going to make old people very angry, and if there's one thing we know from our electoral history, you don't want to make old people angry. Which leads me to the one who should be cowering right now like a dog that's about to be beaten...
#6: Greg Walden
Now this is the guy who should be worried in a serious knee-knocking, guts-turned-to-gravy, cold-sweat-and-dry-heaves fashion, because he's the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee. And even though they think they have gerrymandered their way into a nice permanent majority in the House, those districts cover a lot of counties where post offices and processing centers are being shut down. That's the big stick that Steve Israel and his Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee can come at them with in about a year and a half, beating Republican candidates to a pulp come Election Day as they go town to town, shuttered post office to shuttered post office. "Your Republican mook congressman voted to make your mail service worse and now, thanks to your Republican mook, your government checks will be coming late. How do you like your Tea Party now?" That'll be the message of the day and the Republicans could pay. Seriously, Greg, by not solving this you are giving the Democrats a tool that they can take into the deepest rural reaches of this God-fearing nation and slap you senseless. You can't break America and get away with it and while you can argue about big government all you want, it's that little lady working at that little tiny post office who keeps everyone connected to their Medicare, their farm loans, and their garden gnomes. Shut that down at your own risk, or fight to keep it.