Tags: ups | fedex | usps | obama

Obamacare Likely to Emulate Post Office

Wednesday, 12 Aug 2009 05:43 PM

By Lowell Ponte

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“UPS and FedEx are doin' just fine,” President Barack Obama told his carefully selected audience of supporters at Tuesday's mock town hall meeting in New Hampshire.

“It's the post office that's always having problems.”

Obama intended his comparison to show that a government entity can compete with private companies without destroying them, just as he claims a government health insurance company could provide healthy competition to improve private insurers.

Republicans for months rightly said that the federal government would run our healthcare system “with the compassion of the IRS and . . . the efficiency of the post office. . . ."

Echoing this on Tuesday, Obama seemed to agree that his Democratic health scheme will indeed be like the post office.

Obama spoke only days after the United States Postal Service (USPS) acknowledged that it will end 2009 $7 billion in the red. USPS threatened to close 700 local post offices and curtail Saturday mail deliveries if Congress is slow to boost its taxpayer subsidy.

In the early days of our young republic, jobs as postmasters, clerks, and letter carriers were among the “spoils” political parties doled out to reward its partisan political operatives.

Today the U.S. Postal Service is America's second- or third-largest employer, providing 786,000 high-paying jobs handed out preferentially to military veterans and especially to politically-favored minorities. Letter-carrier union members are a ready source of cash and campaign shock troops for the Democratic Party.

Liberal Oregon now holds its elections entirely by mail. This effectively gives members of the letter carrier union the power to choose which ballots arrive to be counted. (In most other states, mailed absentee ballots now comprise more than 25 percent of those cast in typical elections.)

Likewise, Obamacare will give politically appointed bureaucrats the power to decide who does or does not get costly life-saving medical treatments.

From its beginning, the deeper purpose of the Postal Service has always been to advance federal government power — controlling development by where it used eminent domain to build “post roads,” monitoring and reading citizen communications, and sending federal government eyes and ears daily to every town and home.

The Postal Service briefly grabbed control of the first public telegraph service in America and even schemed — until politically slapped down — to charge citizens a stamp-like fee for every e-mail they sent in competition with the mails.

E-mail has now replaced nearly a quarter of what used to be mail revenue for USPS. Days before Obama's comparison, even New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera on Aug. 8 joined the late libertarian saint Lysander Spooner in arguing that government control of the mails should be abolished.

“[A]ll over Europe,” blogged Nocera on Aug. 7, “postal services are being either partially or wholly privatized.” But Obama continues to swim dogmatically against the anti-socialist tide of history.

So how does the Postal Service survive at all in the public market place, and what does it tell us about how a government health insurance entity would be?

In addition to having gigantic taxpayer subsidies to cover its losses, USPS has advantages FedEx and UPS could only dream of possessing.

Ever looked at your local postal vehicles? They used to wear U.S. government license plates. Now they have no license plates at all, unlike those of UPS and FedEx competitors that must pay states’ high rates for plates to drive on public roads.

Ever since the 1819 Supreme Court ruling McCulloch v. Maryland, federal property such as post offices has been legally exempt from state and local property and other taxes because — as Chief Justice John Marshall wrote — “the power to tax involves the power to destroy.” Duh.

FedEx and UPS are heavily taxed for the money that subsidizes the Postal Service. And the same will be true of Obamacare, whose vampirical tax bite will suck the life blood out of its private competitors.

Those with private insurance already subsidize Medicare with an average of $1,800 per year in overpayments to offset Medicare's underpayments to doctors and hospitals.

USPS also survives because it has a government monopoly on first- and third-class mail. Its own police, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, have used its power to stage armed raids on FedEx, UPS and other competitor warehouses, tear into packages they are carrying, and impose huge fines if any ordinary private non-urgent letter is found therein in violation of USPS' monopoly.

(And never doubt that USPS operatives might send such “mail” precisely for the purpose of imposing tens of thousands of dollars or more in fines on competitors, both to enrich USPS and destroy rival profits.)

This monopoly was granted because USPS is mandated to provide low-cost mail service everywhere, not so it can undercut the prices of private competitors.

The insanity of taxpayers subsidizing mail to the boondocks became clear a decade ago, when a builder on the Arctic Ocean north shore of Alaska put a stamp and address on each brick he needed in Point Barrow, saving himself hundreds of thousands of dollars in trucking costs by sticking USPS and taxpayers with the expense of delivering them.

Obamacare bureaucrats will dictate to their competitors what changed coverage they must provide, while at the same time requiring customers to drop their private coverage if its provisions or costs change and switch to Obamacare socialism. It's a fatal Catch-22 giving the government the power at its whim to destroy Obamacare competitors.

Were Chief Justice Marshall here today, surely he would admit that the government power to regulate and mandate also “involve the power to destroy.”

The President was in one thing completely truthful: Obamacare WILL be like the post office, not FedEx or UPS.

Which brings us to a question by Rory Cooper of the Heritage Foundation: “[I]f you have an urgent piece of mail you need delivered, life or death, who are you going to call? Everyone saying the government . . . please raise your hands.”

Lowell Ponte is co-host of the radio show “Night-Watch,” heard live nationwide Monday through Friday, 10 p.m. to midnight Eastern time, on gcnlive.com.

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