Blade Runner, Terminator, Minority Report and the deliberate sabotage of the Postal Service

Ten years from today, in 2023, a baby will be born. She will grow up, head off to school, graduate from high school in the class of 2041 and then graduate from college in the class of 2045.

She will get a job with the U.S. Post Office, starting work there in 2046 and staying on until retirement at age 65 in 2088.

Just think of that date: 2088. That’s the future. It’s decades after the future we’ve imagined.

It’s 87 years after a Space Odyssey; 69 years after Blade Runner; 61 years after Children of Men; 59 years after the robots take over in Terminator; 34 years after Minority Report; four years after Total Recall.

I’ll be long dead by then. So will every current member of Congress. 2088 is a long, long way away.

And yet, today, now, at the moment, the U.S. Postal Service is required by law to already be pre-funding employee benefits for that baby who won’t be born until 2023 and won’t start working for the USPS until 2046.

Why? Well, because Americans like the Postal Service. They may not like standing in long lines at the post office — the high cost of low taxes for everyone — but they like the idea of the Postal Service. They rely on it and rely on being able to rely on it.

And the Postal Service is run by the government, even though it funds itself without any tax dollars.

So if your whole political shtick is based on being anti-government, then the Postal Service is a threat you’ve got to get rid of. That’s why, back in 2006, Republicans in Congress passed something called the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act,” requiring the agency to “pre-fund its future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years in an astonishing ten-year time span.”

(The USPS is also home to lots of unionized public employees, and the GOP lately has decided that unionized public employees are Public Enemy No. 1. That’s an odd claim — villainizing police officers, firefighters, first responders, teachers and mail carriers doesn’t seem like an easy or an obvious task, but that’s the current Republican plan, and the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act” is a part of that strategy.)

The PAEA was designed to bankrupt the Postal Service — to turn a government service that Americans like into something that could be railed against as wasteful, inefficient and costly. That’s what the law was meant to do. That’s exactly what the law is doing, just as planned.

It was a deliberate act of sabotage. And it’s working. The whole point of requiring the agency today to fund benefits for workers it won’t hire until 2046 was to ensure that the agency wouldn’t still be around in 2046 to hire anybody.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, has introduced a bill to repeal the sabotage of the Postal Service — getting rid of the malicious and absurd requirement for pre-funding 75 years worth of benefits, and rescuing the agency from this Bush-era attempt to euthanize it.

But the Republicans who passed the sabotage bill in 2006 are still in charge of the House of Representatives today, so DeFazio’s bill faces a brick wall of opposition. The last thing that John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan want to see is a money-saving plan to improve the efficiency of a government service beloved and relied on by the American people.

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  • reynard61

    I can do you one better: “I have my life, liberty and property; and, by hook or by crook, I’ll have *yours* too!”

  • What the fuck? Firstly, I was arguing with a creationist in while I was arguing with the people in this thread yesterday. Where did I say

    congress can go ahead and roll without a quorum, and that the House can just say “Okay, I think I’m going to take a long break now without consulting with the Senate.”

    I also explicitly stated I was not a libertarian in
    -Congratulations. You managed to lie about me in every sentence of your comment.

  • If you dismantle USPS, the federal government becomes unable to deliver the mail, which takes away that power and flies in the face of the Constitutional mandate.

    -If Congress can always re-create a USPS, it still has the power to deliver mail.

  • I don’t think it’s a generational thing, so much as the tendency some people have to disregard anything outside of their own experience.

    I’m a Millennial, and my hobbies involve buying lots of small items via ebay – and 90% of them get shipped via USPS.

  • Why?

  • In a regular Union situation you have the Union on one side, who wants
    more money and benefits. And Management on the other side, who needs to
    save money and maximize profits.

    Note that apparently unions only “want” more money and benefits, but management “needs” to save money and maximize profits.

    Thank you for so clearly indicating that there is no point whatsoever in engaging with you.

  • Nonsensical. As you know, many liberties are still restricted by all the world’s governments.

  • Link doesn’t work.

  • reynard61

    Sure wish you’d been around to tell that to those idiots who filed the Articles of Impeachment against President Clinton.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    The way he often doesn’t use contractions – combined with his total lack of anything resembling humanity – makes him sound like a Jerry Jenkins character.

  • reynard61

    The problem with EH’s word games is that a) he seems to be under the sad delusion that he’s some great legal mind (though I bet he’d talk himself into a contempt citation right quick if he tried in a courtroom what he tries here), and b) he seems to think that he can make (and break) the rules as he sees fit but gets…perturbed…when we call him on it. Just my observations.

  • Nothing says “Don’t listen to me, I’m a clueless dolt” like using “Obama” and “the US Government” interchangeably

  • LiamSkye

    You can’t judge the post office’s performance based on when your credit card company credited your account. They commonly have their payments sent to a mail drop account and then ship them in bulk to their processing facility. Then they have to process the payments. You are looking at a complex process and naively believing that your bill gets magically paid when some post office employee goes to your bank and says “I have Frank’s payment here!” It doesn;t work that way..

    The post office does not “think.” It only processes mail put into its system.

  • LiamSkye

    Yeah, that’s right. Nobody was really opposed to it until the recession hit and USPS couldn’t continue making those ungodly huge loans to the Treasury and Congress refused to deal with that reality.

  • Storm

    While it may not have been their idea(PAEA) it did have two democrat cosponsors and certainly does not abdicate the democrats from their votes for it. This is the same group of clowns(D’s & R’s) that don’t read the bills they pass that become law, so I can’t believe that they actually read the commission’s report(PAEA). The NALC also thought it was a good idea at the time because they supported it.

    Public Law 109-435(PAEA) went from committee on Dec 7, 2006, passed the House on Dec, 8 2006, then passed the Senate on Dec 9, 2006 and was signed by Bush on Dec 20, 2006. It passed unanimously( for the slow people out there that means very few people voted against it) in both chambers, it was voice voted and no records were kept as to how each member voted…isn’t that convenient?

    The genesis of the PAEA actually started with Public Law 108-18(Postal Civil Service Retirement System Funding Reform Act Of 2003), which also had two democrat cosponsors. It mandated a future congress to revisit the Health Benefit Funding question. The PAEA is an amendment bill to Public Law 108-18.

    It is amazing to me that this PAEA has been laid at the feet of the R’s when the D’s are every bit as culpable, and that also includes the NALC!

  • LiamSkye

    I understand that view but it was done mostly to relieve the government of the enormous pension liability of the huge postal work force. It has been enormously successful at that since USPS’ pension war chest is around $275 billion – well over 100% of the net present value of the liability.

  • Carstonio

    Yes, that’s similar in principle to how gasoline was less than 60 cents per gallon when I was a kid. It’s very tempting to suspect that the fossil fuel companies play games with the prices to benefit or penalize candidates before elections. But it’s simply another commodity that’s subject to not only inflation over time, but also to market speculation and to simple supply and demand.

  • Fusina

    Probably I should have compared it to herds of prey type animals. This possibly explains some people’s behaviour in traffic–as in, what do you call the slowest member of the herd?


    And no one wants to be lunch. That said, some of us have evolved beyond that mentality. I realized the other day that what I really want is for my children to be happy. Oh, and have enough to provide food, shelter and clothing for themselves. But I want that for everyone. I just don’t see a way, with the way things are run now, for that to happen–I mean, for everyone.

  • People keep saying that, but you know how the Tea Party convinced Republicans to adopt their platform? The Repubs feared a third party split, taking their base. The Dems have no such fear, and never will, because every time someone brings up third parties, this is the reaction. Do you think the Tea Party was worried about losing elections when they took control of the Republican party? The left is too worried about that, and I get it, really bad things could happen if the Dems lose what marginalized power they have. But that mindset is a trap.

  • Could be worse – in Britain, the Tories have seriously talked about selling off the Royal Mail but keeping the pension liabilities public. Because we couldn’t expect the people making money off a public service to actually pay the costs required to run it. But welfare payments are bad for the poors’ souls, dontchaknow???

  • Fusina

    Cooperative rather than competitive. As someone who was raised by a father who was very into cooperative type activities, I like this. I taught my kids one of his fave games from the seventies, a variation of hide and seek where one person hides and everyone else tries to find them. As each person does, they squeeze into the hiding place. The last person to find the group becomes the next hider. My kids taught it to their friends, and it became very popular. I did notice that the larger the group of children, the easier it became to find them as the giggling got very loud toward the end–also the shushing.

  • I thought it was more colorful

  • JustoneK

    I have noticed a trend: on any blogs with disqus, roughly 75% of threads are topical conversations, 15% complaining about disqus.

  • If we got rid of government services, people would have more money to pay for the government services that don’t exist?

    -No, I was assuming those government services would be replaced by private businesses.

  • Do not misspell “Enopoletus”! Also, according to gmail, only fifty comments here (out of 321) have been replies to me and I have made less than fifty comments here. Thus, less than a third of this thread is people arguing with me.

  • LiamSkye

    One part of it that the Republicans solely own is the $5.5 billion per year. Everybody – and I mean everybody – agreed with prefunding the retiree health benefit liability but everybody expected something reasonable like a 40 year straight line amortization. It was the Bush White House that insisted on budget neutrality – in other words they wouldn’t stand for USPS’ payments into the Treasury to be reduced by billions per year when they fixed the massive USPS overpayments into the pensions. Budget neutrality, according to Congress’ rules goes out 10 years – hence the ungodly 10 year prepayment schedule.

  • Libertarians are not proponents of fraud or coercion.

  • J_Enigma32

    “You are what you do, not what you say.”

    Second, you willfully distort evidence, you ignore and overlook facts inconvenient to your position, and pretend they don’t exist, and you argue from the same points over and over again, even though they’ve been attacked and debunked.

    Yes. You are a creationist – you’re using the same damn “logic” they use.

  • Figs

    You’re right, and I appreciate the correction. I should have put out a caveat, saying that he was likely referring to some vague notion that he pays more for mail so that bulk mailers can pay less, but that falls apart under even the most cursory scrutiny.

  • Figs

    Thanks for the explanation, I appreciate it. Makes it even more clear that this is nothing but grandstanding (not that that wasn’t already clear) with no real commitment.

  • Examples, please, or these accusations are baseless. I have now switched over to arguing with a creationist at

  • LiamSkye

    Skyrocketing? The price of First-Class stamps are keeping pace with inflation as measured by CPI-U which is an amazing feat because the cost of a new pair of loafers and a sweet roll have not increased anywhere near the costs of the factors which actually affect the cost of delivery, like fuel, increased number of delivery points, and medical cost inflation (which drives up USPS’ costs of providing medical benefits for employees). The price of First-Class is almost incredibly low considering how much the costs have risen.
    USPS is insanely efficient, which has driven the marginal cost of delivering a letter to near zero.

  • Mark Z.

    Before that, it was all MadGastronomer telling us to fuck ourselves. Don’t pretend this is a new problem.

  • P J Evans

    The Democrats are pretty close to splitting – they’ve been a coalition for decades – and if the Republicans go down, they will split.

  • Wednesday

    UPS is also profitable because they sometimes are point-blank dishonest. A few years back the NYTimes did a nice bit of investigative journalism where reporters went to UPS stores that also offered USPS shipping. The stores were supposed to only charge USPS rates for USPS shipping, but at almost every store the journalists went to, the cost quoted to them for mailing a package through USPS was inflated from the actual rate just enough so that it would be cheaper to ship UPS.

  • P J Evans

    Ah, *Them*. I have a pendant. And a pair of ear cuffs. And a bookmark.

    Because, OH yeah.

  • Jenora Feuer

    What if streets in a certain area are owned by *multiple* road
    companies? (i.e. North-South streets are owned by Acme Roads and
    East-West streets are owned by Amalgamated Roadways, while alleys and
    other smaller access roads are owned by Joe’s Streets and Alleys.)

    And, of course, this sort of thing has a long history of already happening anyway.

    Before the city of Toronto was amalgamated the the Ontario Provincial Government, there were six separate cities (well, five cities and one borough) plus the ‘Metro’ municipality that covered the same area and controlled the regional services such as police and transit.

    Major streets that crossed city boundaries (such as Eglinton) fell under the jurisdiction of the Metro government, while smaller streets fell under the jurisdiction of the individual city. This became an issue when the City of Toronto and Metro Toronto had conflicting by-laws regarding street usage, and you technically had to know who owned the street to know which set of by-laws to follow. (In particular, one considered people on roller blades as pedestrians that had to use the sidewalk, and the other considered people on roller blades as wheeled transport like bicycles that had to use the road.)

    And that’s even before you get into the highways within the city limits being provincial jurisdiction (meaning they’re covered by an entirely different police force, even); the 407 which is a toll highway for which tolls are collected by a separate company that then outsources the enforcement back to the government; or the matter of unassumed roads which are still technically the property of whichever developer built the area up, and thus are pretty much only covered by public safety requirements and none of the municipality by-laws.

    So, yeah, I’ve seen ‘different streets run by different people’, and it’s a mess, and I see no way that it will be any better if corporations could actively own and enforce their own street regulations.

  • P J Evans

    Not enough telephones. *g*

  • P J Evans

    Which would charge much more, because they want a profit.

  • 1. We’re all tired of you and your inability to do simple searches.

    2. It’s fun to watch you throw yet another hissy fit.

  • If that was the case, it would have happened after Gore lost, which was the last time there was serious(if you can call Nader serious) challenge from the left. What happened, and what will continue to happen, is that we on the left, faced with the reality of Republican in office, will close ranks and rally together to defeat them. And when that happens, we ending up electing ineffectual Dems who are already in hock to moneyed interests, resulting in no benefits to the average struggling American. The Blue Dogs have risen within the Dem party since Gore lost, not lost power, which is what would have happened if a split was really coming,

  • Carstonio

    Blame for instituting PAEA is less important than accountability for politicians who continue to defend it.

  • Carstonio

    No argument there. I suppose my real issue is that incomes for all but the very wealthy have stagnated in real dollars, with health care costs in particular almost negating any pay increases. It’s easy to perceive postage prices, gas prices, milk prices and so forth as more of the same – being in the 99 percent feels like being Sisyphus.

  • Storm

    Liam, I call BS on your post, show me where the “40 year straight line amortization” was presented as an alternative to the current schedule…which by the way the USPS has not made the last two payments. Not only that, the PAEA expires at the end of the next fiscal year and it looks as though the USPS will not make this years payment. The timeframes as I presented them are accurate and make it highly unlikely that there was any debate let alone ay actuarial discussion about how to fund it. The democrats obviously agreed. Hind sight is not wisdom and second guessing after the fact is not strategy. Liberals like to engage in this kind of tripe in an effort to appear intelligent…epic FAIL!

    Like I said…very few of the politicians voted against the bill in it’s current form. All the spinning in the world by you and the rabid left cannot change that.

  • It costs twice as much as it did ten years ago. There’s no way the generalized rise in prices has been 2x in the same time span.

  • You are so incredibly literal-mindedly blockheadish. Ross was mocking you.

  • I am able; I just don’t think I should do research for others.

  • Hell, it predates Patheos.

  • The question is, would that “much more” be greater than the greater wealth people would keep from the abolition of taxation?

  • Enopoletus probably claims to be a “Propertarian”.