Standing in line at the post office Tuesday to buy some stamps and mail four letters made me think about how members of Congress should do the same thing. They would see a lot that’s good about the post office.
We have been seeing a lot of stories in print and on television about how the post office is about to go down the tubes, and I can’t believe people write that stuff. Nor can I believe Congress doesn’t have a better idea of what reality is when it comes to the nation’s post offices.
Madera’s post office certainly isn’t going out of business. When I walked in at 9 a.m., there were nine customers in front of me, and three people behind the counter.
The people behind the counter were geniuses. They were helping people in two languages — Spanish and English. One clerk was helping a customer mail a package. Another was helping a woman send a registered letter. A third was helping her customer determine whether a certain piece of mail had been received at the postal facility.
My total time in line was less than five minutes. I usually spend more time than that in a grocery line. The clerk who waited on me was friendly and knew exactly what I meant when I asked for a particular book of collectable stamps.
Some members of Congress believe the post office should be run more like a business than a public agency, but these same members of Congress won’t keep their political fingers out of the post office’s business. These politicos, most of whom haven’t run anything outside of their own reelection campaigns, want the post office operated as a public service as well.
Which is okay — because it is a public service — one which Congress is obligated to provide. But Congress can’t leave it twisting in the wind, expecting it to run like a business when it really can’t.
True, the post office behaves as a business, selling its services (and doing a far better job carrying out those services than most of us give it credit for doing).
But the restrictions Congress puts on it make it mandatory that some form of long-term support be provided.