For months now, mass distributed emails have warned Washington evil-doers are trying to close down the Corrales Post Office. The message urging rapid political action is that the U.S. Postal Service will run out of money to continue operations this summer unless Congress approved more funding.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham sent one of those email blasts May 30 promoting a national petition drive to save the Postal Service. “I want to make sure you had a chance to sign this petition to save the U.S. Postal Service from dire financial trouble,” she began.
“For so many people in New Mexico, USPS is the life line that connects them to the world, especially for rural communities across the state. If we don’t act now, we could lose rural routes that aren’t profitable for private companies —meanwhile prices could increase for everyone. That’s why I’m asking another 200 people to add their signatures to this petition calling for emergency federal funding for the USPS before midnight.”
The governor warned “without an influx in federal funding, it could run out of money by the end of September.” As expected, officials at the Corrales Post Office are not saying anything publicly about any pending shut-down, except that uncertainty lies ahead.
In early May, USPS directors reported that its losses more than doubled in the fiscal quarter ending March 31 to more than $4.5 billion. In light of that, Congress authorized the U.S. Treasury Department to lend USPS up to $10 billion as part of its coronavirus relief package.
President Donald Trump has threatened to block that loan unless the service hiked rates for corporate shippers like Amazon, FedEx and United Parcel Service.
Governor Lujan Grisham’s email acknowledged that “lots of families across our state have been relying on the USPS to get the supplies they need during these extraordinarily difficult times. The work that USPS does is truly essential. Just last year, the USPS delivered $1.2 billion in prescription drugs. About one in five Americans pay their bills by mail,” she wrote. “Postal service workers trek rural routes, where profits are low but need is high, that private delivery companies sip. Without financial help, the USPS could cut service for rural communities and costs for everyone could increase.”
The Corrales Post Office opened January 13, 1885 to distribute mail brought by a stagecoach running from Albuquerque to Cuba. In 1940, the post office here served the community of about 300 residents. By 1990, the number of postal patrons had grown to 5,453.
According to an article in the May 11, New York Times, “Now the fight over the future of the Postal Service has spilled onto the campaign trail, freighted by deeply held disagreements about labor rights, the role of government versus private enterprise in providing basic services, and voting access.”
To some observers, the impasse is linked to a perceived strategy to privatize the delivery of mail and packages. It has been suggested that the Postal Service be required to lease out its facilities to carriers such as UPS and FedEx, an extension of collaboration underway in recent years.
Despite recurring vicissitudes, hassles and frustrations, the Corrales Post Office and its employees generally enjoy villagers’ support and fondness. That was shown by a public letter this month by Judy and Larry Salas to a retiring postal carrier: “Marlene, we wanted to let you know how lucky we’ve been to have you as our mail carrier all these years. You have always gone that extra mile (pun intended) to make sure we received our mail and packages in a timely fashion. We hope you enjoy your retirement. We will miss your kind service to us and the Corrales community.”
An op-ed article in the May 16 New York Times by Professor Ted Widmer titled “The Post Service Is Not ‘a Joke’” recounts the organization’s founding. “The Postal Service was never supposed to be a money-making enterprise, or a political football. The founders understood the reliable delivery of information was basic to democracy.
“In 1775, even before the country came into existence, the Continental Congress asked Benjamin Franklin to organize a postal system for the 13 colonies at war with a distant empire. George Washington deepened that commitment when he became president. In 1792, he and James Madison pushed an act through Congress establishing a national system of post offices and post roads. The legislation specifically set a low rate for newspapers, so Americans could learn about the issues of the day.”