To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Observercast

Post Office Blues

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BY SHARON MARTIN

Sharon MartinThe rebel leaders of the American Revolution created a national post office in July of 1775, eight years before the revolution ended. In July of 2014, the residents of Oilton met with a federal postal employee to learn the fate of their post office.

The first postmaster, Ben Franklin, created the framework for what is arguably one of the crowning achievements of civilization, the ability to send packages and reliably communicate with fellow citizens over long distances. With increased use of electronic communications and the shenanigans of the privatize-everything crowd, we are in danger of losing this public service to the likes of Staples, UPS, and FedEx.

Some years back, Oilton lost rural delivery. We country folk can still get mail delivered, but it comes through a larger post office several miles away. Many of us chose to get a post office box in town.

About a month ago, box holders received an official letter asking us to vote on the fate of our post office. They gave us such options as a “village post office,” a fancy name for selling postal service to a local business. We could choose shorter window hours or become part of a regional post office who knows how many miles away.

Ninety-six percent of those who responded to the survey, about 150 of the 500-plus households the post office serves, voted to keep the post office open. It wasn’t what the powers-that-be wanted to hear, but this is still somewhat of a democracy.

Here are some questions I did not get a chance to ask:

  • Is the decline in post office use evenly spread between rural and urban areas? Many of us in the country do not have reliable cell signals or broadband service.
  • How do people with limited mobility get their mail when a rural post office closes?
  • Do decision makers understand that closing a rural post office contributes to the demise of a small town?

Privatization isn’t the answer. Profit isn’t cheaper. Don’t forget this the next time someone tries to sell you a private prison, a private army, a private school, or a privatized post office by any name.

What is the answer? Increased postage and box fees? Postal service is still a mighty bargain. A small tax to take up the slack? We all rely on the post office.

Maybe it’s time to write your legislator. Don’t forget to remind him or her that you not only write letters, you vote.

May the U.S. Postal Service live another 239 years!

Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.