So, yesterday I wrote about ERAM. With the news that Administrator Babbitt was arrested for drunk driving, no one is going to pay much attention to that story. So, what am I going to write about today? The Post Office. This probably won’t get much attention either. But I (obviously) think it should. Especially from the aviation crowd.
But first things first. I would like to extend my best wishes to Administrator Babbitt and his family. I realize this episode will probably be a career ender but there is no need to follow our baser instincts and be gleeful or sarcastic about it. It will be bad enough if it was just a one-time lapse in judgment. If Mr. Babbitt has a problem with alcohol, I hope he will get the help he needs. Many don’t. Which causes more social problems than if they do.
Now, on to the Post Office. First -- before we even get started -- remember aviation’s history with the Post Office.
”With initial help from the U.S. Army, the Post Office in 1918 initiated an intercity airmail route. The subsequent achievements of the Air Mail Service included the establishment of a transcontinental route and the development of airway lighting.
In 1925, the Airmail Act of 1925 authorized the Post Office to contract with private airlines to transport mail. The Airmail Act created American commercial aviation and several of today's airlines were formed to carry airmail in the late 1920s (including Trans World Airlines, Northwest Airlines, and United Airlines).”
Now, let’s go back even further to the late 1700s. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution to be exact.
”The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defence[note 1] and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To establish Post Offices and post Roads;”
In case it hasn’t dawned on you, the “post” and transportation go together. Because the first thing mankind needs to transport is not goods but news.
Pay attention to the debate. Pay particular attention to how the argument is framed. As long as the Post Office is framed as a business -- “the Post Office needs a new business model” -- the Post Office loses. And so do we. The Constitution doesn’t say anything about the Post Office making a profit. It doesn’t say anything about the Post Office being a business.
We simply must get away from this greed-induced profit obsessive-compulsive disorder and start talking about the common good. We can pay for a Post Office. We should pay for a Postal Service. Government should be a model employer that drives the price of labor up. Not another greed-based organization that casts its citizens aside in a headlong rush to the bottom of the barrel. The mail is a governmental function that binds the nation together. It isn’t a business. It’s much greater than any business. It should stay in the government and -- if we are smart -- we’d be willing to pay for it.
December 6, 2011