STRIKE DEBT BAY AREA
Saving the United States Postal Service as a public enterprise
Opposing predatory banking
What is STRIKE DEBT?
· STRIKE DEBT is a growing organization of people all around the country dedicated to building a debt resistance movement, because debt is an instrument of exploitation and political domination.
· STRIKE DEBT strives for a just and sustainable economy based on mutual aid and public affluence.
· We believe that we owe financial institutions nothing, but that we owe everything to our families, friends, and communities. We pledge solidarity with the growing global movement against debt and austerity.
Why does STRIKE DEBT BAY AREA want to support the USPS in resisting unreasonable debt?
· The United States Postal Service is a model of self-sufficiency, showing skillful adherence to their Universal Service Obligation. The USPS is a perfect example of a publicly accountable and efficient enterprise uncorrupted by profiteering. But recently it has come under attack by forces of privatization.
· In 1971 under President Nixon, the Postal Reorganization Act forced the USPS to fully fund itself and be “run like a business.” Previously a public service, the USPS now receives no tax-payer assistance (the only other government not funding its postal service is Somalia’s) but survives on selling stamps, supplies, and other services.
· The 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act forced the USPS to pre-pay its retirees health benefit fund for the next 75 years by 2016. This costs the USPS more than $5.5 billion a year and is crippling an otherwise financially sound institution. It is the only organization required by law to do this.
· Internet-based service providers like Google, Twitter, and Facebook don’t protect user’s private information from government surveillance. Hand-mailed letters are good alternatives to easily monitored emails.
· Strike Debt Bay Area opposes privatization because publicly accountable organizations – such as the postal service – resist exploitation better than those that serve the interests of the 1%.
· Postage stamps at $0.46 for sending overland mail are affordable, while sending email costs over $30.00 per month for internet service, or a trip to one of the fast-disappearing public libraries.
· Tactics of creating financial hardship – of creating the need to borrow money – are experienced by most of us as individual debtors and by organizations providing essential services, such as health-care, education, housing, utilities, and the USPS.
· If the USPS is privatized, over half-a-million union jobs paying decent wages and good benefits will likely become non-union poverty-wage jobs with no benefits. Putting an end to unions and collective bargaining is a principal strategy of privatization.
· If we don’t save the USPS, then the best example of a publicly accountable and efficient enterprise will disappear. Other essential services would run sufficiently if they could emulate the postal service rather than be exploited by the 1%.
Our proposal for discussion at the PBI Conference:
Payday lending and storefront check cashing outlets are located in areas where they’re most effective at preying on low-income and minority populations who cannot use major banks. We are outraged at the immorality of the 1% who add to the burdens of poverty by charging poor people more for essential financial transactions.
Strike Debt is beginning to develop a plan to open check cashing outlets that charge a minimal fee for the service in order to undermine the profitability of corporate outlets providing the same service with high fees. The low fees we would charge would be used to cover the rental costs for secure locations, equipment rental and payment if necessary for check validation fees and software.
Ultimately, we believe the best locations would be inside post offices, in conjunction with a public banking facility. Since Post Offices are ubiquitous, our check cashing outlets could be located in communities where they are most needed, i.e. in low-income areas where there a few – if any – banks. To advance this plan, we will need the input and support of those who oppose the exploitation of corporate banks.
Please see more about STRIKE DEBT BAY AREA’s efforts to save the USPS as a public enterprise and the relevance of that effort to discussions of public banking on our website: strike-debt-bay-area.tumblr.com/