The U.S. Postal Service is a connecting lifeline, in rural Kansas and the U.S. My farm summers near Kensington with Grandpa Floyd and school years working our McCracken Grocery Store were connected by USPS.
Wherever I was, USPS kept me up with where I wasn’t. Letters, the egg check and an occasional package from missionary Aunt Ruth were part of what kept our family, family farm and small town business connected — and prosperous.
No one imagined then that over decades a group calling itself Americans for Prosperity would undermine that prosperity for their own ill-gotten gains.
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan, spurred by Charles Koch-funded Libertarians, created a Postal Service privatization commission. James Miller, Reagan’s OMB head, touted ketchup as a school lunch vegetable and later became the longest-serving board member of Americans for Prosperity.
In 2003 Miller was put on the USPS Board of Governors and 2006 saw him push through the "Postal Accountability and Efficiency Act," wounding USPS to this day.
It required USPS to use its $17 billion reserve to fund future retiree health benefits and capped first-class stamp raises at a penny a year to throttle revenue.
Attacks on USPS were only part of its undermining the public good. Americans for Prosperity essentially created the Tea Party movement to blame Barack Obama for, well, everything.
All of it was achieved through anonymous AFP "dark money" donors, created by the Citizens United decision.
Bill Moyers calls this "a well-coordinated and financed movement to turn much of American government over to private, for-profit organizations, corporations in particular."
Trump’s Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, is the poster boy for fox-in-the-henhouse raids on the public good. Once finance chair of the Republican National Convention, he’s given the Republican Party more than $2.5 million. He helps finance a Republican group attempting vote suppression.
The DeJoys have invested millions of dollars in Postal Service competitors or contractors. And DeJoy also chairs a $100 million Republican Super PAC, with many connections to companies having direct interest in Postal Services. In short, Republican multi-millionaires have a "hammer lock on USPS and are squeezing the life out of it."
Mitch McConnell coordinated the hammer lock. Five years before Trump, McConnell obstructed all USPS Governors’ appointments. After Trump, McConnell filled them. Two top governors are now deeply embedded in Republican Party infrastructure.
These are folks deeply hostile to the notion of the public good, of services to benefit the public, namely you or me.
Even while strangling USPS, they use it for their purpose. Americans for Prosperity and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce delivered an August Kansas postcard blizzard against moderate Republicans.
Moderates were accused of a "$1.2 billion retroactive tax hike on seniors and the middle class." In reality, it put 330,000 formerly untaxed corporations back on tax rolls. From 2012-16, extremist legislators approved insanity: don’t tax those with the ability to pay, putting the load on those without that ability. Cut services, making life less prosperous and more miserable.
So now, AFP and Kansas Chamber called reversing that insanity a "$1.2 billion tax hike."
They’re already buying your government. Don’t buy their lies.
David Norlin is a retired North Central Kansas college instructor, former chairman of Salina Access TV, Planning Commission and Human Relations Commission.