This week I would like to focus on two very different events.
The first is the shootings in Tucson, AZ.
The second is a potentially disastrous decision by the U.S. Postal Service.
First, the shootings in Arizona are a tragedy. The more we learn about the gunman, the more clear it is he is a mentally deranged person who as early as his sophomore year in high school had fellow students and teachers worried about him.
The day of the shooting, Callista and I asked everyone to join us in praying for Congresswoman Gifford’s complete recovery. We also are keeping in our prayers the families of those who were killed and those who were wounded.
This was a horrible event, but we must not let it be turned into an excuse for sealing off the Capitol building or isolating members of Congress from the American people they serve.
In July 1998, the nation was faced with a similar tragedy when two Capitol policemen were killed by a deranged person.
The following day, July 25, I gave a national radio address focusing on the courage of the officers and the tragic cost to their families. In addition, I emphasized that we could not let the desire for security outweigh our commitment to freedom.
I am sharing a part of that speech now because it relates directly to questions Congress is grappling with in the wake of the Tucson shootings:
“I want to emphasize that this building is the keystone of freedom, that it is open to the people because it is the people’s building. And that no terrorist, no deranged person, no act of violence will block us from preserving our freedom and from keeping this building open to people from all over the world, and to every American who wants to come and visit the center of their self-government.”
“This is the people’s building. Up to 23,000 people a day visit this Capitol, their Capitol, to see their government at work, to stand in the shrine of freedom and teach their children–and we have many, many school children who visit on a regular basis.”
“But those who hate or fear freedom, sometimes seek to attack this Capitol and those in it precisely because they symbolize America, self government, authority and the process of freedom.”
You can read the full address here.
I hope as this Congress deals with the terrible events in Arizona this week it will remember that preserving freedom and citizens’ ability to communicate with their member of Congress is their paramount duty.
Post Office Bait and Switch
A new initiative by the U.S Postal Service that appears on the surface to be a good deal for customers is in fact setting the stage for bankruptcy and a future bailout of the Post Office with taxpayer money.
This week, U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahue plans to announce that all future stamps sales will be so-called “forever stamps,” which can still be used even if postage rates go up.
Anyone who has had to hunt around for 1 or 2 cent stamps to add to their old stamps after an increase may consider this good news.
However, consider the implications of this action. The Post Office is currently experiencing a severe budget deficit and has been unable to gain approval for a postal rate increase. In addition, they are threatening to stop delivering mail on Saturdays as a way to cut costs. As Peter Schiff astutely points out in this interview with The Daily Bell, the Post Office is trying to solve their short term revenue problems at the cost of even bigger problems down the road.
The Post Office will try to use any short term increase in sales from these forever stamps to solve their immediate fiscal problems. But if the Post Office is already having trouble operating at full capacity with current prices, imagine how difficult it will be to do so in five or ten years after inflation has pushed their costs up AND they are selling even fewer stamps because so many people already purchased them in the past.
In fact, this move is setting the stage for a future taxpayer bailout of the Post Office because it virtually guarantees its future bankruptcy.
The low price of stamps is not the reason why the Post Office is facing such huge deficits. The Post Office is seeking a 5.6% increase in the price of stamps despite an inflation rate of just 0.6%.
Instead, the Post Office is facing budget shortfalls because it is unwilling to engage in the necessary reform of its operations necessary in the modern economy.
As I discussed in To Save America, which is now out in an updated paperback version, the Post Office’s union work rules require it to pay a large group of employees more than a million dollars a week to do nothing. Instead of being able to lay off redundant workers, the Post Office (and by extension, every American who uses the mail) keeps them on salary through a program called “standby time.”
If the Post Office really wants to solve its fiscal challenges, it needs to engage in the difficult work of reforming its operating procedures, including its suffocating and costly union work rules like “standby time.”
Congress should block the Post Office from implementing this genuinely dumb move and force it to confront the true cause of its budget woes and implement real reform.
Newt’s Quick Links
• We’ve also added new limited edition box sets for Rediscovering God in America and the first of all our novels. These make great gifts. Click here.
• At The Americano, War of Words Continues After Moment of Silence. Click here.
• In his piece on Renewing American Leadership, Doug Bandow discusses the importance of sticking to the Constitution, and how the judicial and legislative branches have ignored it. Click here.
• Read Part 5 of The ReAL America Series posted this week at ReAL Action —Secular Socialism: America’s Fifth Column. Click here.
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