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As we know, the government can’t do anything right. We know this not only because a menagerie of right-wing media yackers and anti-government politicians ceaselessly bleat this message at us, but also because it’s often echoed by such basso profundo media voices as the New York Times.
For example, The Times recently went after the U.S. Postal Service – a favorite target of political forces eager to privatize our nation’s mail agency “Distress Deepening, Postal Service Defaults,” screeched the headline, with the article’s opening sentence assailing the hapless agency for sinking “deeper into debt,” having missed for the second time this year a deadline to pay $5.6 billion “for its future retiree health benefits.” This reinforced the right-wing claims of gross bureaucratic inefficiencies, suggesting that no private corporation could stay in business if it was so slipshod.
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But wait – while the Times did the who-what-when-and-where part of this story – it conveniently evaded the crucial question of “why.” The unmentioned truth is that in 2006, the forces of privatization got Congress to shackle our Post Office to an absurd requirement that it must, by 2015, set aside funds to cover the health benefits of all workers who’ll retire in the next 75 years.
Hello – that includes workers who’re not yet born! No corporation could or would shoulder such a crushing burden, yet our corporatized Congress has piled this multibillion set-aside on the back of this public service, demanding that the huge sum be paid out of current postal revenues.
This is “Enron accounting” in reverse, forcing the Postal Service’s books to look bad when they’re not. It’s a deliberate effort to bankrupt an invaluable public asset so it can be cannibalized by privateers. That’s the BIG news that the Times doesn’t see fit to print.
“Distress Deepening, Postal Service Defaults on $5.6 Billion Benefits Payment,” The New York Times, October 2, 2012.
“The Post Office is not broke–and it hasn’t taken any of our tax money since 1971,” www.hightowerlowdown.org, March 2012.