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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  • And even then it’s been played with. ISTR that it was considered legal to search the mails for pornography at one time.

  • Holy good god, I had no idea you were at Commander Data-ish levels of pedantic.

  • To be fair, there were sometimes valid reasons for MG to be upset at people. However, I did feel her latest incarnation on patheos, she was unncessarily rough even with regulars here. She hasn’t posted since then, but I know she still reads occasionally.

  • That being said, are you denying that closing mail processing centers will increase the average latency of mail in the system?

  • And you’re totally not a Libertarian because…?

  • The point raised is valid. Why did the Dems not undo the law in the two Congresses where they held a majority?

  • reynard61

    Yeah, that *does* sound messy; but now imagine (under Enopoletus’ scheme) having to pay a toll *every time you needed to turn a corner!!!* Imagine the wads of cash and/or bags of coins that you’d have to carry in order to go to work or go shopping or run various errands — and Celestia help you if your workplace or any one of those errand destinations was on the “diagonal” in relation to others! (And imagine the near-military level of logistical planning needed if you were poor!) You could theoretically map out routes that minimize the number of times that you’d have to pay all those tolls, but you’d also have to hope that there were no closed or one-way streets. So, yeah; *NOT* a place I’d want to live in.

  • To be fair, I can be too.

  • How?

  • What nonsense is this? Lies!

  • That said, I’m sure you don’t come off as also being purposely obnoxious.

  • Sounds like New Jersey to me. :p

  • Mark Z.

    To be fair, there were sometimes valid reasons for MG to be upset at people.

    We all sometimes have valid reasons to be upset at people. There are still right and wrong ways to express that.

    Having said that, I will say nothing further about MG. It would be unfair to her, and not really useful to anyone else, to air my grievances in her absence.

  • Mark Z.

    Armed couriers, of course.

    Skateboard couriers! With the right equipment, they’re faster than cars!

  • Mark Z.

    Also, apparently I now have -1 notifications. God bless Disqus.

  • Wat

    Ok whoever it is who makes Disqus work, stop trying to throw divide by zero exceptions now. :P

  • You bought some of her stuff before? Wow, small world.

  • Alix

    “It’s in 18th-century legalese.”

    “I don’t see what that has to do with my nitpicky arguments over the meaning of certain words.”

    Except, y’know, it does, because a) legalese is not casual writing and b) there’s been language drift (small, but some) since the 18th century.

    In other words, you can’t just pull stuff out of your ass when it comes to defining the terms, phrases, clauses, and sections in the damn Constitution.

  • Alix

    Wow. That sentence has to be one of the more entitled things I’ve read today.

    Try this on for size: I don’t think I should have to educate you in basic facts.

  • VMink

    These would be the Comstock Laws, and yes, at one time the Post Office were required to prevent the mailing of pornography. They were enacted in the period after the Civil War. Seriously; we don’t always think of it, but there was apparently a considerable pornography industry at the time. Most of it was oriented around racy novels — “barracks favorites,” they were called — and the eponymious “French postcards,” which were neither French nor postcards, but rather just postcard-sized.

    Anyway, Comstock (first name not Zachary, but I forgot what it was) didn’t like this and pretty much pushed for the anti-porn laws that came to have his name. It helped that he was a Postmaster. For various definitions of ‘helped.’ The various anti-vice movements he inspired more or less led right to Prohibition.

    There’s a lot of theories as to the sudden rise in pornography during the Civil War, most oriented towards the large numbers of soldiers being moved around. So I guess that means that one of the side-effects (besides, you know, ideological-based mass murder and eliminationism) of the impending Second Civil War will be a rise in pornography, despite what social reactionaries would desire from the outset.

  • Entitled?! If one makes a claim, it is one’s responsibility to support it. Demanding me to support a claim I don’t support is a very high form of a sense of entitlement.

  • Foelhe

    Support isn’t the goddamn point. Whether it’s true or not is the point. If you want to know if something’s true or not, you research it. Are you more concerned with scoring cheap points in a pointless pissing contest, or would you like to actually know stuff?

  • Alix

    People have. But none of that apparently matters to you.

    You’re asking us to serve as both Google and your memory for you, and that is not fair.

    Moreover, there’s the point that this is a blog comments section, not a formal debate.

    And lastly, yes, I expect people to research things they don’t know. What side those things support doesn’t matter.

    Really lastly: if I got the sense you were asking for citations because you really wanted to learn, I wouldn’t have a problem. I don’t get that sense. You throw out passive-aggressive little [citation needed]s only as a way to disagree without actually doing so, and that to me is poor form.

  • Foelhe

    And how long does it take to set up the infrastructure of the mail system, Enopoletus? If the federal government doesn’t have the manpower and resources to deliver the mail, those things aren’t going to spring out of the ground like daisies when they need it.

  • Foelhe

    I think the problem is a lot simpler than that, honestly. He wants to think he understands things, so when someone explains something, he tries to change the explanation so it fits his preconceptions, instead of leaving his preconceptions to deal with reality.

    That’s right, folks. We’re dealing with a semantics fundamentalist.

  • Foelhe

    Neither one of the major parties is going to split until the other one isn’t a threat. They need relative stability in-party to compete with each other. If you want parties you can hold accountable you need the current Democrats to be running against each other, and the only way to get there is to crush the Republicans underfoot. Dramatic as that may sound.

  • There’s plenty of unemployed people and the government can easily buy resources. I suspect a month at least, several years at most.

  • Foelhe

    And during that month, at a bare minimum, the government is incapable of meeting its Constitutional mandate.

  • It depends on whether “shall have the power to” means “must always be prepared for”.

  • Wait. Why isn’t that a federal crime?

  • Rhubarbarian82

    How many times – in this thread alone – have people pointed out that the Post Office is not funded by taxpayer dollars?

  • P J Evans

    I’d buy more, if I had money.

  • Foelhe

    You are incredibly dumb. There’s really nothing else I can say to this argument.

  • P J Evans

    At least Data has something resembling a sense of humor.

  • P J Evans

    ‘Rabid left’ is a phrase only used by conservatives, usually to blame other people for their own failings.

    Would you care to rephrase your answer so it’s closer to reality, bearing in mind that when Bush was president the Republicans owned Congress and didn’t bother with letting Democrats actually have much say?

  • P J Evans

    Mostly because they only had a majority for a short time – you have to remember that there were, and are, Democrats who routinely vote with the Republicans. We call them DINOs. Several of them were very much senior – Buacus, of the health-care law, is one of them.

  • if I got the sense you were asking for citations because you really wanted to learn, I wouldn’t have a problem. I don’t get that sense. You throw out passive-aggressive little [citation needed]s only as a way to disagree without actually doing so, and that to me is poor form.

    All of this. So much.

    But also, when someone says, “List me specific examples of this behaviour that I’ve already been called out on multiple times”, they’re not interested in improving their behaviour. They’re hoping that that they can derail the conversation by re-starting old arguments, or that their opponents will simply throw up their hands in exasperation. I’ve run into this tactic several times.

  • reynard61

    “Why would anyone want slavery to return?”

    Um…a large-scale source of free* labor? You’ve gotta admit, if you didn’t have to actually *pay* your work force that profit margin would look a helluva lot better on the quarterly report.

    *barring, of course, the cost of food. (And if, as in the South, you fed them with what *you* or your animals wouldn’t eat, you can probably do it pretty cheaply indeed.) In theory, one could clothe them in rags or hand-me-downs and lodge them in hut, hovel, cave, tent or stable.

  • I dunno, there’s a sense that it’s true; managers will get fired for failing to save money and maximize profits, while union representatives have someone looking out for their interests who will protect them from being capriciously fired for failing to meet arbitrary shareholder targets, so the management really needs to meet their goals, in a way that the union only “wants” to.

    See, what the managment needs is some kind of collective looking out for their interests. Some kind of united thingy, some thing that represents the sum total of their interests. Something that lets them present a unified front.

    They could call it an “intersection” or something.

  • suggested that they were reverting to wolf pack type behaviour, in
    which status within the pack depended on the strength of the member,
    such that the stronger members got more privileges based on their
    ability to beat the crap out of weaker members.

    I am not suggesting this is a good model–in fact, I think it is a
    terrible model. Wolves are lovely, but I wouldn’t want to live with one.

    Neither do the wolves.

    (Wolves only behave that way in captivity — when someone bigger and stronger than them has locked them up and broken down their natural social structures)

  • Lee B.

    That already exists—it’s called “Congress.”

  • Storm

    No…the term stands as stated! The only one getting dizzy in your spin job is you!

  • Yeah, she does plenty of convention sales. I am sometimes there with her, though I have only been part of her business for about a year now. Maybe I will see you at the San Diego Comic Con this year?

  • Carstonio

    I interpreted Storm’s post as a variant of “Oh yeah, what about Robert Byrd?” An accusation of hypocrisy against Democrats who oppose PAEA and condemn Republicans for it, since “their team” also voted for it and didn’t overturn it. Obviously that may not have been Storm’s intention.

  • “Six days, thirteen hours, forty-seven minutes.”
    “What, no seconds?”
    “I have discovered, sir, a certain level of impatience when I calculate a lengthy time interval to the nearest second. …however, if you wish…”
    “No, no. Minutes is fine.”

  • “It can’t happen here!”

  • Ben Franklin is our Founding Nerd.

  • But if you will not take this Counsel, and persist in thinking a Commerce with the Sex inevitable, then I repeat my former Advice, that in all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones…

    How can one not giggle at risque mid-1700’s humor.

  • Jack Frost

    You would think the Democrats would have utilized their majority in ALL three branches of government to alleviate this burden upon the USPS to reward the public sector unions which are a bedrock of support. You would be wrong! Instead they used all their political capital to move the country farther to the Left by enacting Obamacare to lead ultimately to a single payer/single provider system run by the federal government. Plus they had already bought to UAW companies. The GOP came into the majority in the next midterm elections. Now in his final term, Obama has taken another look at what important issues still need his attention. He has selected gay marriage, gun control and legalizing “undocumented” aliens as his most pressing battle. Just be glad you’re not trying to fins a non-existent job in the private sector. Yeah, it’s all the GOP…