Socialism really took a beating during the recent campaign when the word was used to condemn every public work except the space program. That wasn’t on earth so it didn’t count.
People who didn’t have a clue of the real meaning of socialism were scampering across the prairie like Chicken Littles shouting “Socialism is coming! Socialism is coming!” That would make a good sequel to “The Russians Are Coming” because they didn’t show up either.
But there comes a time in history when a public need must be met with a public response. On such occasions, we don’t necessarily want to take over the six basic industries. All we want is our mail delivered.
For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out our priorities when we were throwing billions on a wall to save the Alamo and then pinching pennies so shekels could be saved cutting back the mail service.
Last December, the postal service guaranteed 2-day delivery on my son’s package between Denver and Atlanta and 12 days later it arrived. A Christmas gift turned into a Valentine’s greeting.
The USPS has an organization chart, but it is the only thing organized. Most people think organization charts reflect the power structure when, in fact, they only reflect pay grades. It’s the little lady in the mail room who runs the place.
At the very zenith of the organization is a Board of Governors consisting of nine presidential appointees, all confirmed by the U.S. Senate on slow days. Of course, there were nine at the time of this writing, but everything in Washington is in flux so don’t send any letters just yet.
As a matter of fact, Joe Biden played politics with the Board last week and appointed three Democrats, giving the radical left a majority.
An efficiency expert by the name of Louis DeJoy is now (or was yesterday) Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer. In a dream, he told the press that they might as well get used to him because he plans to be around a long time. He dreamed that a week ago. It has matured into a nightmare.
In response to criticism of the slowup in Ben Franklin’s department, Louis argued that he was not a political appointment. He was just slowing the mail so the absentee ballots would be late.
In addition to being a great political fundraiser, DeJoy’s major credential for the job was contracting with the Postal Service as Chair and CEO of New Breed Logistics for 25 years. So the origin of his paycheck remained the same, only the chair was bigger.
As a goal, DeJoy was “committed to creating a long-term viable operating model” that could remain aloof from the rest of the government. Apparently, he didn’t know that “long term” in governmentese means until the next election.
So we now have a transition situation in Washington, the outcome of which is speculative. Distance is a killer and no matter where you send it from North Dakota you are faced with distance. Nevertheless, we need options.
Reviving the Pony Express has become a reasonable idea. These mounted riders grabbed the mail at the railhead in St. Joseph, Missouri, and made the 1800 miles to Sacramento in just 10 days. Not bad. If DeJoy lasts another month, the Pony Express will pass the USPS in viability.
We should also think of carrier pigeons. They were more likely to make it to the end of the route. Of course, now that everybody in the United States has a gun, pigeons would need hazardous duty feed.
Personally, I think a well-funded mail service is the only way to go and meet the hazards of socialism head-on.
Lloyd Omdahl is a former state lieutenant governor and professor at UND.