The arrival of my mail has become erratic. Once a week or so, I receive no mail at all. The next day, my mailbox is overloaded. Mail is taking longer to arrive. One letter from North Carolina was delivered three weeks after its postmark date.
I learned this morning that I am not imagining the disruption. The New York Times announced that “analysis of more than 28 million pieces of mail found that on-time delivery declined noticeably in July and August after Louis DeJoy, the [Trump administration’s newly assigned] postmaster general, put cost-cutting measures in place.”
The Trump administration isn’t interested in saving money. It wants to make vote-by-mail impractical. It’s deliberately sabotaging post office operations for that purpose. The result is that people like me who depend on the mail for their prescriptions and their business (sending and receiving books and manuscripts) are left hanging. The medications are key to my health and survival; the books and texts I send and receive are essential for my work as a writer and book reviewer. And Trump is delaying their delivery.
Some years ago, we had a discussion about whether the United States Postal Service (USPS) is in fact a service or a business. Lawmakers tended to side with the business argument. In 2006, Congress passed a law that imposed extraordinary costs on the USPS. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) required the USPS to create a $72 billion fund to pay for its post-retirement health care costs 75 years into the future. This burden applies to no other federal agency or private corporation. But the USPS receives no funds from the government. It is expected to pay its costs through stamp sales and mailing fees.
With the growth of email and the internet, people are sending fewer letters, and the USPS’s income has shrunk. The solution to that problem is obviously for Congress to allocate funds to keep the USPS operating at top efficiency. But the Trump administration and DeJoy, with the complicity of Republicans in Congress, are instead weakening the service in hopes that voting-by-mail won’t be feasible. They know that the more people that vote, the greater the likelihood that Trump and the Republicans will be defeated.
Despite this and a litany of other destructive actions by Trump, he continues to enjoy the support of something like 40 percent of the American citizenry. I am at a total loss to understand how that can be.