News Release

Historian on Attacks on Post Office



CHRISTOPHER W. SHAW, at, @chris_w_shaw
Shaw is a historian and author of Preserving the People’s Post Office. He recently had an oped in the Washington Post: “Postal banking is making a comeback. Here’s how to ensure it becomes a reality.

He said today: “The U.S. Postal Service has served the American people day in and day out since 1775. Time and again, the Postal Service rose to the occasion in moments of national crisis, and millions of Americans will rely on the U.S. Mail to cast their vote this November. But recent actions taken by newly appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy are jeopardizing the Postal Service’s ability to perform its mission. With a presidential election fast approaching, this is the worst possible time to slow down mail delivery, reduce post office hours, remove processing equipment from postal facilities, and uproot collection boxes.

“While these recent developments are troubling, they also are consistent with a long-term attack on the Postal Service. For decades, corporate interests have lobbied to undermine this government agency’s public service commitment. These attacks have weakened the institution, setting the stage for our current crisis. Nevertheless, our postal system remains an essential infrastructure and the one universal means of communication — providing uniform service at uniform rates to all Americans. Older, low-income, and rural Americans are particularly reliant on the U.S. Mail. The Postal Service delivers over 470 million pieces of mail every day. But although its delivery network has expanded, there are approximately 100,000 less career employees compared to a decade ago.

“Privately owned corporations have received billions in federal funding during this crisis, even as our public Postal Service has not received a cent. Adapting to vote by mail on a national scale presents challenges, so the postal system needs funding now. Longer term, for too long, the emphasis has been cutting service by closing post offices, removing collection boxes, and ending door delivery. It’s now time to expand the Postal Service. Until 1966, post offices offered banking services, and reviving this service would aid the unbanked and underbanked. The Postal Service was founded to promote communication and circulate information, and today this means helping to provide equitable internet access and public social media platforms.”

Shaw also wrote the book Money, Power, and the People: The American Struggle to Make Banking Democratic.