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Thursday, June 14, 2018 12:19 am

How bad public policy happens

Question: If you inject a stream of raw ignorance into a vat of gaseous arrogance, then jolt the mixture with 1,000 megawatts of malevolence ... what does it produce? Answer: Donald Trump’s executive order of April 12.

Let’s start with the arrogance. Donald the First has been in a deep pout over negative articles about him in The Washington Post newspaper, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, king of the Amazon.com Inc. empire. Trump has fired off several rounds of angry tweets assailing Bezos, including a potshot claiming that Amazon is ripping off the post office by underpaying for the millions of its packages that the U.S. Postal Service ships.

Well, tweets are one thing, but Donald has the firepower of the federal government at his beck and call, so he is arrogantly using the government power to escalate his personal spat with Bezos. By executive order, he set up a federal task force to conduct a pernicious political inquisition into “our money-losing post office,” particularly looking at the “pricing of the package delivery market.”

This is where Trump’s vast ignorance comes into play. Apparently, he’s blissfully unaware that, far from being a money loser, the Postal Service has actually been earning about a billion dollars a year in profit. The false claim of “unsustainable” operational losses, repeated in Donald’s imperious order, stem from a 2006 political ploy by right-wingers who want to destroy the public service. They passed a law dictating that USPS pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years into the future – covering retirement costs for workers who haven’t even been born!

This adds a totally hokey “expense” of up to $5 billion a year to the USPS corporate ledger, creating the fake “loss” Trump is now so bombastically citing as the rational for his destructive inquisition.

The humble U.S. postal system has 30,000 outlets serving every part of America, employs 630,000 people in good, middle-class jobs, and delivers letters and packages clear across the country for a pittance. It is a jewel of public service excellence.

Therefore, it must be destroyed.

Such is the fevered logic of laissez-fairy-headed corporate supremists like the billionaire Koch brothers, along with the right-wing politicians who serve them. This malevolent gang of wrecking-ball privatizers includes such prominent Trumpeteers as treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, a former Wall Street huckster from Goldman Sachs, and budget director Mick Mulvaney, a former corporate-hugging Congress critter from South Carolina. Both were involved in setting up Trump’s shiny new task force to evaluate and restructure the “operations” of our U.S. Postal Service. It’s like trusting two foxes to remodel the hen house.

Indeed, Trump himself merely wanted to take a slap at his political enemy, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, by jacking up the prices the postal agency charges to deliver Amazon’s packages. The cabal of far-right corporatizers, however, saw Trump’s temper tantrum as a golden opportunity to go after the Postal Service itself. So, instead of simply addressing the matter of package pricing, the task force was authorized by a trumped-up executive order with an open-ended mandate to evaluate, dissect and restructure the people’s mail service.

Who’d buy the pieces? For-profit shippers like FedEx and UPS, of course, but here’s some serious irony for you: The one outfit with the cash and clout to buy our nation’s whole postal infrastructure and turn it into a monstrous corporate monopoly is none other than ... the Amazon kingdom, of course.

Sometimes public policy inadvertently turns bad, but when it’s based on ignorance and arrogance, policy inevitably goes bad. To help stop the gross greed of these privatizers, become part of the Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service: http://AGrandAlliance.org.

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