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

Blade Runner, Terminator, Minority Report and the deliberate sabotage of the Postal Service May 7, 2013

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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  • LiamSkye

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! You “call bullshit” when you are trying to peddle a revisionist version of history when the truth is readily available to anyone who wants to look for it? The version of the bill that passed the House in 2005 called for amortization “in accordance with generally accepted actuarial practices and principles.” The Senate version specifically called for a 40-year amortization (actually it specified an amortization ending in 2046, which was 40 years out). Are you so obtuse as to really believe that there was no action between 2003 and 2006 and this all happened in 24 hours? What color is the sky in your world of the simpleminded?

    So you are going to rewrite the Act itself, as well as its history? It is the law of the land and does not “expire” next year. As a matter of fact, what do you think it calls for in 2016? (I know you don’t know the answer because it is so pitifully obvious that you have not even read the legislation). I’ll tell you: It reverts to the 40-year amortization of the remaining liability as was the original plan before the budget-scoring rule was invoked – and then it reverts to a minimum 15-year amortization in 2041.

    Here’s what really happened to bring about the PAEA: the discussion was ongoing since 2002 when it was revealed that USPS was on track to overfund its pensions by at least $70 billion. the plan was long-term amortization right up to the last few days when the rule was invoked and everybody agreed because there was no more time.

    You really ought to do a little research on the history of the PAEA. As it stands, the only part you got right is the part that you can’t lay it at the feet of the Republicans – it was one of the most bipartisan agreements ever. As I have stated, the White House played the budget-scoring card – but the White House didn’t put that card in the deck. That, too, was a bipartisan agreement. Oh yeah, you got the part about the Postal Civil Service Retirement System Funding Reform Act Of 2003 right too.

    Sorry, Storm, but you are a Johnny-come-lately on this issue and you have no firsthand knowledge or perspective of what was happening then and why. I was not only there at that time, but I had already been there for more than two decades.

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, dipshit, the country moved farther toward the center. From the right, yes, but we ain’t nowhere near the left. Evidence supporting: corporate taxes are nonexistent and people still die of preventable things in this country.

  • I never saw that. Yes, I saw MG yelling at people, and occasionally one person or another would dominate discussion, sometimes legitimately, other times not. But never has there been this kind of concentration of attention on one person over so many posts.

    The tendency of Slacktivist people to argue with someone who really shouldn’t be argued with because it’s a pointless waste has always existed. It’s happening with Chris Harding up there too, and has for a long time. But never, in the time I’ve been observing, whether as lurker or poster, has it been allowed to be so completely and utterly dominated by ONE person.

  • Yeah, stupid liberals thinking that “treating gay americans like they are full human beings”, “Doing something about the MILLIONS of people who die in this country due to our ridiculously comedy third-world-level gun control”, and “Doing something about the people who suffer in this country due to our ridiculously comedy third-world-level health care system” should be high priorities.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    You are clearly not tall enough to ride the ride, are you.

  • AnonaMiss

    Because roads are the classic libertarian example of “There are some things that the government is good at and should be responsible for.” The more liberal of libertarians even include trust-busting in this category!

    EH appears to be a corporatist anarchist. And fancies himself a utilitarian. No, really.

  • Then you weren’t paying attention in 2009. The R party almost split, because of the Tea Party. If the R’s hadn’t pretty much conceded the platform to the TP, it would’ve split, and even now, it’s an uneasy alliance, there are plenty of moderate Rs who don’t like the way things are, they just won’t act against the lunacy, because they fear their electoral future.

    Activists who didn’t care if their nominally allied party survives are what created the huge lurch to the right after Obama’s election(this was fueled by racism of course). Too many on the left concern themselves with continued survival of the Dem party, while the Dem party apparatus could care less about leftist activists.

  • Ad hominem attack. What was wrong with the comment you replied to?

  • AnonaMiss

    If you believe that Obamacare was a significant step to the left, please explain why the Republican party proposed it in 1993 as the HEART Act?

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Ad hominem attack.

    No, actually it was an insult.

  • It’s still pretty shaky. It was only a few weeks ago that Santorum was quoted as saying that the Republican party needs to kick out all the “liberals” (i.e., the non-theocratic ultra conservatives).

  • Not to mention Romney implementing it as the Massachusetts health care insurance reform law of 2006, and Nixon proposing something very similar in 1971…

  • Why insult me?

  • reynard61

    It doesn’t hurt (well…not *usually*) if you can back up your pedantry with facts.

  • No; libertarians (e.g., W. Block) believe roads should be privatized. I am suspicious of such a policy.

  • P J Evans

    The Tea Party is *in charge* of the Republicans. The moderates have either left or been driven out, and a lot of them, *including* several in high government positions, became Democrats (at least in name).

    ‘I don’t belong to an organized party – I’m a Democrat.’ – Will Rogers

  • P J Evans

    ‘Democrat’ is a noun. ‘Democratic’ is an adjective. People who don’t know the difference tend to be right-wing trolls.

  • P J Evans

    They’re supposed to go by the date on the check, not when it was received, or the postmark. (That said – I try to get mine in the mail a week ahead of the due date.)

  • P J Evans

    ‘Democrat’ being used as an adjective is the mark of a Republican who is only here as a troll.

  • P J Evans

    Storms word choices are those of someone who gets their information from talk radio and Fox news. Not the only one, either: the others who showed up with that ‘Democrats voted ofr it too’ also use the same word choices.

  • Foelhe

    The Republicans didn’t split. They made a lot of noise about splitting, sure. And then what happened? We hit an election cycle, and the Republicans who didn’t like the Tea Party grumbled and grouched and then voted R straight down the ticket. Maybe individuals jumped ship, but the party as a whole still presents a united front. Maybe they’ll bicker pointlessly during the off-season, but when push comes to shove they still back the party.

  • aim2misbehave

    Yeah, all of that makes me so sad. I run an Etsy shop, and shipping through the USPS is awesome – they subsidizes business shipping rates, so I can ship my stuff first-class for under $2 and it’ll arrive in usually less than a week (My record was a package being delivered 2900 miles away in a mere 46 hours from when I dropped it off at the post office). It’ll cost at least 3-4x as much to ship through any commercial carriers.

  • Storm

    Liam, Thanks for proving every point I made. In 2003 the USPS was made to pay the “Military offset” to the tune of 27 billion.

    I am not late on anything, I work for the USPS and will be retiring in 2 1/2 years. As a “future retiree” I want the USPS to make those payments. The waste I see every day and the bloated management structure tells me that we could afford those payments if we got serious about running the place like a business. Those quotes are from people who have everything to hide. “Law of the Land”…are you a comedian? The PMG hasn’t made the last two payments and nothing has been or will be done about it. 10 years forward from 2006 = 2016. The urgency that was brought to light in the commission’s report, which I doubt you read, was that very soon there was going to be a large portion of the workforce retiring and that OPM via taxpayer monies was going to have a serious shortfall of revenue…hence the 10 year time frame.

  • Jamoche

    I want someone to write the werewolf urban fantasy book where the established packs don’t have any of the alpha/beta nonsense – that only happens in the artificially-created packs of recently-turned but otherwise unrelated individuals thrown together.

  • arcseconds

    Well, it’s not going to be me! I can’t stand werewolves. Nasty, hairy, bitey things. Not known for their rationality, either.

    (you’ve mentioned it before, and it’s a good idea — not sure I would read it myself, mind, as it’d probably have werewolves in it.)

  • arcseconds

    Dammit, it also occurs to me that such a story could also make points about human society along the way. how dare you have such good ideas about werewolves.

  • arcseconds

    I actually think Enopoletus Harding is kinda cute with his obsessive and pointless ranking excercises, enthusiastic linking, and continual self-commentary, and in a way he is, I think, arguing in good faith, despite the silly [citiation needed]s and other point-scoring tactics, which I’m starting to see as part of his charm.

    Despite getting a lot of shit (albeit often deserved, and when it hasn’t strictly speaking been deserved it stems from understandable exasperation) from everyone, he’s taken it on the cheek, and remained just as civil as he was before.

    Also, some of his insistence on clarification seems to be aimed at just that, clarification, rather than in support of some point or other, which I think has been overlooked.

    And from time to time he comes up with something genuinely interesting.

    Also also, I love love love the quantitative response to Lliira’s complaints that never before have so many responded so much to so few.

    I know, I’ll go and upvote it. I know he’d like that.

  • arcseconds

    oh oh, and also… “I am not a Church numeral! I am a Free Variable!”

  • Beroli

    You could stop after the fourth word in the post to which I am replying with no loss of accuracy or meaning.

  • Fusina

    So several people have mentioned. :-) /dry humor

    The captivity example does help explain human behaviour though, where it seems people are behaving like captive wolves…what can that tell us about the situations etc… It seems like there could be some kind of correlation.

    I have an endless well of curiousity about behaviours. I did not learn normative behaviours as a child, and am trying hard to learn how people usually relate to others–any help is greatly appreciated. I want desperately to understand people.

  • Jamoche

    Yes, definitely – that would be part of the fun in writing it, if I had the skill. There’s just something about plotting out more than a few chapter’s worth of story that escapes me.

  • Jamoche

    My default LJ icon – sharable, but not here, please, because the icon’s the only way I can find my comments. :)
    /cue Disqus rant here.

  • LiamSkye

    Storm, the timeline you have provided is an accurate description of the events that took place during two days of the 4 year legislative history. Unfortunately, you do not seem to have any knowledge or understanding of those events. Your assertion that it is “highly unlikely that there was any debate let alone any actuarial discussion about how to fund it” is the most preposterous statement I have ever had the misfortune to read. I successfully rebutted it no less than four different ways, by quotes from the House and the Senate bills, as well as quotes from both Democrats and Republicans that demonstrate how far afield you are in your understanding of both how and why the ten year prepayment plan was brought to be. The truth is that there was a hundred billion dollars at stake, including billions already in escrow, and there was endless discussion about what to do about it. The only thing that was NOT discussed was a ten year prepayment schedule.

    You have outdone yourself in demonstrating your ignorance of postal finance when you state that “taxpayer monies” pay postal retiree health benefits. That has never been true since the inception of USPS in 1971, when USPS, like every private sector corporation began paying those costs out of current revenues. The ten-year plan was solely driven by the House budget-scoring rule. That is a fact and you can not change it with a revisionist recitation of a miniscule portion of the legislative history.

    I hope you are not going to try to work as a lawyer when you retire because you are even more abysmally over your head when you try (and fail) to address the law. The reason that “nothing has been or will be done about” the missed prepayments is, quite simply, because the law provides neither penalty nor relief when there is insufficient money to make the payments.

  • LiamSkye

    Did you reply to the wrong post? I have not addressed how service standards might be affected by network reductions at all anywhere on this site.

  • LiamSkye

    I hope everybody realized I was joking…

  • No, I replied to the right post. The post you replied to discussed the closing of mail processing centers which implies a further increase in the average delivery time of mail, and the poster stated that this would further delay the “posting time” of payments to their CC.

    Your response, while addressing the TCP/IP-like nature of postal mail, does not address the issue of the equivalent of a bandwidth reduction.

  • For those interested, we have a Facebook page (mostly with convention announcements, pictures of works in progress, pictures of finished works, and occasional pictures of our cats) and an Etsy store (which has a small selection of her stuff, mostly cast items with geeky themes like little rocket ships, flying saucers, and polygons.)

  • phantomreader42

    I would like to read that!

  • Foelhe

    Unless it’s Sharia Law. White people aren’t powerful enough for tyranny in the US, but the MUSLIMS are just breathing right down our necks donchaknow.

  • Lori

    The waste I see every day and the bloated management structure tells me
    that we could afford those payments if we got serious about running the
    place like a business.

    This sentence tells me that you no little or nothing about how actual businesses are run. When was the last time you actually held a corporate job?

  • Lori

    I honestly don’t think the “noise” has changed much, if at all. It only seems that way because, thanks to the crappy disqus “upgrade’, the signal has dropped so dramatically. The ratio is now shot all to hell, but the problem really isn’t on the arguing with idiots side of the equation. As you noted yourself, the threads that don’t involve arguing with EH don’t have many comments at all. There’s not some thriving conversation being blocked by EH, there’s silence.

    The community is broken and it makes me really sad, but Chris Hadrick didn’t break it and neither did EH. Being stuck on the “new and improved” disqus did that. I don’t see that changing unless Fred moves to a different commenting system because disqus clearly isn’t going to bring back the option not to have threading and they’re not going to get rid of the down vote thingy that factors so heavily in EH’s nonsense. I assume they’re trying to fix the idiotic problems with notifications, but so far they’re not succeeding at it and I’ve seen no evidence that that bothers them overly much.

  • AnonaMiss

    The fact that the one libertarian who seriously suggests privatizing roads wrote “the first-ever complete book on this topic” (Mises institute) in 2009, hundreds of years after the development of classical liberalism and in the wake of the great ship-jumping of the corporatists to the “libertarian” label during the 2008 US national elections, says all you need to know about the idea’s acceptance in the wider circles of Libertarians Proper.

    (Quick-and-dirty metric for telling the difference between a
    libertarian-proper and a corporatist: libertarians are extremely pro-union.)

    There is a spectrum of libertarian positions, but the defining feature of a libertarian is minarchy, with the role of the government being limited to maintaining order, justice, and the continued existence of the market. Generally in the modern era libertarians have considered infrastructure the defining service-necessary-for-the-continued-existence-of-the-market, and therefore belonging to the government, because of the concerns that have already been raised in this thread. A free market requires competition, and private ownership of infrastructure impedes competition, because you can’t compete because you can’t get out your own front door.

    Saying that libertarians believe roads should be
    privatized is like saying that liberals believe prayer in schools should be outlawed: some people certainly believe it, but it tramples on founding principles of the ideology.

    Also, I note that you didn’t object to being called a utilitarian: would you confirm this for me please, so I can hack out my lungs laughing at you?

  • Hadrick!

  • Brian Winter

    This is what is happening IMO. They (the big money corporations and their bought and payed for congressional lackeys) are requiring the prefunding to make the losses look as bad as they are. Then comes the privatization of the USPS. The prefunded health care will be raided by the corporations and the mail will be worked by minimum wage workers. Mail will cost you by distance rather than piece….if you are lucky enough to live somewhere where they deem mail service will be profitable!

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    And just imagine the fun if RoadCo decided to ban you from using their roads for whatever reason.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Unfortunately all the other ships seem to be either sinking or on fire.

    …Or still in drydock while the builders enter their 20th year of arguing over whether it should be driven by sails, nuclear power, or trained hamsters.

  • reynard61

    [Enopoletus Harding mode] Why would they ban anyone from using their roads? [/Enopoletus Harding mode]

    But, yeah; that would *definitely* add to the navigation nightmare.

  • Wasn’t I chastised by the commentariat for misusing the word “corporatist” less than a year ago? Since when were any libertarians (except Left-Libertarians) “extremely pro-union”?

  • Colorado Springs ET

    An article at Motley Fool told about how the Postal Service actually subsidizes FedEx and UPS by millions of dollars a year!