The postal service hired my grandfather when he returned from fighting in Europe during the second world war. He was the son of a farmer with little education beyond the ninth grade. He grew up in grinding poverty during the Great Depression, but his job carrying the mail allowed him to ascend into the US’s then-burgeoning middle class, to save money for my mother’s college education, and to escape the legacy of poverty that had dogged his family for generations.
In addition to providing a vital pipeline for rural Americans to receive essential goods and services, the USPS is also one of the largest US employers of black workers, who make up 21% of the postal service’s workforce. With a median salary of $55,000, working for the USPS is that rarest of things in modern America, a stable job that pays a living wage.
Republicans in the federal government have been trying to eliminate the post office by financially hobbling the agency while simultaneously denying it the means to evolve into a profitable 21st-century operation. Rightwing organizations such as the Cato Institute insist that the USPS can only survive through privatization, a move that would fly in the face of the explicit wishes of America’s founding fathers, who enshrined the postal service in our nation’s constitution.