Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The taxpayer's revolt

Wall Street Journal:

[T]he postal service is hoping to ramp up a cost-cutting program that is already eliciting yelps of pain around the country. Beginning in March, the agency will start the process of closing as many as 2,000 post offices, on top of the 491 it said it would close starting at the end of last year. In addition, it is reviewing another 16,000 -- half of the nation's existing post offices -- that are operating at a deficit, and lobbying Congress to allow it to change the law so it can close the most unprofitable among them. The law currently allows the postal service to close post offices only for maintenance problems, lease expirations or other reasons that don't include profitability.

The news is crushing in many remote communities where the post office is often the heart of the town and the closest link to the rest of the country. Shuttering them, critics say, also puts an enormous burden on people, particularly on the elderly, who find it difficult to travel out of town.
Some lawmakers say closing post offices is the wrong answer. Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) says the agency should instead cut waste in its ranks. Although the postal service has cut its work force through attrition in recent years, it is still weighed down by overly generous employee benefits, she says.

No matter how winding the journey, official tours of the nation's fiscal woes inevitably conclude by naming a specific category of persons as the culprit: those who, by working, have secured more from life than mere work, and who in consequence are costing the society more than it can bear.

From this perspective, it is only by confining individual development to the strict requirements of work and consumption that the broader development of society is assured.

The implications are clear enough for anyone who works; which is to say, they are constituted explicitly around the idea of class. It is for this reason that the argument is instead pitched to everyone that pays taxes. "Taxpayers" is a category which encompasses all classes, so the "waste" of "overly generous employee benefits" must offend us all! Yet only some of us who feel Taxed Enough Already could regard the idea of employee benefits as redundant in and of itself.


what the Tee Vee taught said...

Off topic, but:

Imagine a town. And that town's "heart" is the fucking post office.

No pubs? A theater? Even a movie theater? Shit... are these remote communities without the know-how to make a dart board.

This, I suppose, is how the WSJ sees the world: a place in which the post office, and the commerce it conducts, is the heart.

Anonymous said...

The WSJ... syrup of Ipecac!

I agree with My TV Teacher. Only we don't have to imagine those towns where the Post Office is the major employer for those who aren't farmers or ranchers or their -hands. Susan Collins knows such towns exist in Maine. I know they exist in New Hampshire, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, western Maryland... in Appalachia all around....

The folks running the game know American Capitalism is following the path Dmitry Orlov has tracked, and so the craven-ness of their greed, the manner in which money trumps being a compassionate, considerate fellow human -- it's on it's highest power of display right now, on par with when Our Forebears were Exterminating the Natives.

My over-riding Q is, how far down the totalitarian road will we go? I predict Americans will need to be jailed, killed or disappeared by the hundreds of thousands before the citizenry even begins to contemplate reforms at the citizenry's hand.

Ben There said...

Oxtrot makes a great point. At what point do the peasants revolt? This is a question I keep asking myself. Can battered wife syndrome exist on a nationwide scale?

I think we're already being jailed by the hundres of thousands - highest percentage of incarcerated citizens on...Earth? Something. From a practical standpoint, poverty is almost a crime.

Beth E. said...

I think the WSJ already finds 'the peasants' pretty revolting. (ba-dum-bum)

The ironic thing is that all these supposedly lavish benefits received by gov't workers are there (NEGOTIATED BY THEIR UNIONS!) precisely because there's little-to-no chance of any of them actually being paid what the business world likes to call 'competitive' wages. So much easier to ignore this fact then, and take potshots at the benefits, especially pensions, which of course are paid to people when they've stopped being 'contributing members of society'.

Thanks, Charlie, for the 'ipecac' simile. Fits the WSJ perfectly.