The Left

Is the mailman Obsolete?


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Congress considering cutting 120,000 jobs and benefits

With the laying off of 120,000 postal workers - I'm torn. The liberal in me says, government laying off people in a recession/depression only spreads to more unemployment and economic problems. Part of me feels the debt frenzy has perhaps been blown out of proportion, and that we should focus on employment before worrying about how many digits rack up on the debt clock. Is the USPS a business really? Does it need to make a profit? Aren't certain services a benefit to the well-being of a society at large, and thus should not be scrutinized penny for penny, but defended as an institution of an invaluable service for the masses?

I imagine the hardworking government employees, left ouf of work, without qualifications to work in other sectors, and then the businesses that supported those workers. The foreclosures, the unpaid health bills, car payments, food payments, etc. Workers looking for unemployment may get some safety net from government but that time is limited, and so many employees of our government have spent years in the public sector and it's easier said than done to expect them to support a family for a less-than sufficient wage.

However, the independent in me says, yeah but who uses mail? At one point the horse and buggy industry became irrelevant, the buggy, the milkman. Industries change. Paper and mail are outdated. Borders Books? Who needs it when you can get everything you need online or via eReaders. Huge computer terminals were replaced with tiny lightweight portables. The candle industry at one point must have taken a huge hit. Mail is an industry that by nature is wasteful. The paper. The transport, the masses of buildings and warehouses that must be occupied. I can't count how much junk mail and bank invoices I get that I don't want. Shouldn't this all graduate like the rest of our society and go digital?

I support necessary layoffs, if they are truly necessary. However, if congress fails to provide training and new job relocation, I don't see how they can expect the massive downgrades in size and scale of the government to be of any benefit to our country in the years to come. There's this idea that government spending leads to waste, but that spending always goes into the economy. People who work for the government don't sit on piles of cash saving up for a rainy day. They're working class people most of the time. Those dollars circulate quickly, and spark private sector jobs. In fact, really the only people who don't spend are the wealthy, because the money's already there. There is no need to take a new tax cut and spend it. The wealthy in this country and around the world are often frugal, smart, and careful with their money - that's how they got to where they are. The industries they fund are vital, but entail much larger investments than single digit tax cuts alter.

Perhaps I'm taking this into a bigger point, but I feel like Republicans have a form of amnesia right now, and seem to have forgotten that the debt and the economy was crumbling as Obama took office. The banks were on the verge of collapse, and for almost a decade we spent trillions on two wars we couldn't afford with money that didn't circulate back into our economy, and provided tax cuts that didn't circulate into our economy - at least not as much as it could have.

So lay off the mailman, fine, but maybe layoff a few in congress while we're at it. Why does each state need two Senators anyway?

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Updated May 6, 2017 6:01 AM EDT | More details

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