April 27, 2012


Don’t let business lobbyists kill the Post Office
In 2006, in what looks like an attempt to bust the Postal Workers’ Union, George Bush signed into law the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. This law required the Postal Service to pre-fund 100 percent of its entire future obligations for 75 years of health benefits to its employees – and not only do it, but do it within ten years. No other organization, public or private, has to pre-fund 100 percent of its future health benefits. “No one prefunds at more than 30 percent,” Anthony Vegliante, the U.S. Postal Service’s executive vice president, told reporters last year.  The new law forced the postal service to come up with about $5.5 billion a year for the ten years following the bill’s passage. In 2006, before those payments kicked in, the USPS generated a small profit. Not surprisingly, the USPS is now basically broke. The 2006 law also bars the Postal Service from offering “nonpostal services,” which means the USPS can’t, say, open up a bank, or an internet cafe, or come up with any new entrepreneurial ideas to generate new income, as postal services do in other countries. The transparent purpose of this law, which was pushed heavily by industry lobbyists, was to break a public sector union and privatize the mail industry. Before the 2006 act, the postal service did one thing, did it well, and, minus the need to generate profits and bonuses for executives, did it cheaply. It paid for itself and was not a burden to taxpayers…This is a classic example of private-sector lobbyists using the government to protect its profits and keep prices inflated. Sen. Sanders is pushing a bill that would delay the end of Saturday delivery for two years, and prevent a number of post-office closings, but the writing is on the wall, unless there’s a public outcry. So definitely write your congressman and ask him to roll back Bush’s idiotic law, and at least give the Post Office a chance to sink or swim on its own. Rolling Stone

Reason Foundation report touts privatization momentum
The areas for which states are considering private contracts vary widely, ranging from lotteries and liquor sales to child welfare and other social services. Some of the proposals discussed seem unlikely to happen in the near future, while others are quietly being put into place in multiple states through legislative and sometimes gubernatorial action. The report says that an increasing number of states, including Utah, Arizona, California and Hawaii, are looking seriously at privatizing their cash-strapped state parks to varying degrees, from handing over the facilities to private operators to allowing private companies to sell food or offer particular amenities. “In budget battles, parks are the perennial loser,” says Leonard Gilroy, one of the report’s authors and director of government reform at Reason. “It strengthens the argument and says, ‘hey, look, the alternative here is closure.’” Stateline

SC: Statewide school bus privatization stalls
A proposal to privatize South Carolina’s school buses, endorsed by Gov. Nikki Haley, is going nowhere this year. Instead, by a 103-2 vote, the S.C. House Thursday voted to form a study committee to look into the issue. Studying the issue is a compromise after no consensus could be reached to require the state’s school districts to take over operation of their own bus systems. Under the privatization proposal, districts either could operate the bus systems themselves or contract operations out to private companies….Lawmakers and some school districts who fear the state’s promised payments to school districts to offset the cost of operating or contracting out bus operations will not keep up with rising fuel and vehicle costs. If that happens, school districts could be forced to ask local taxpayers to pay higher taxes. The State

OH: Report: ODOT could save millions if it closes rest areas, sells equipment
‎More than $6 million can be saved by downsizing the Ohio Department of Transportation’s fleet of vehicles and closing two rest stops in eastern Ohio, according to a report released Thursday by Auditor of State Dave Yost….The preliminary report recommends closing two rest areas on I-70 near I-77 at an annual savings of $492,000. ODOT recently invested $180,901 on one of the rest stops to repair the asphalt and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act….The study, expected to be completed this year, will examine the benefits of leasing the Turnpike, bonding against future toll revenue, privatizing rest stops and other options. Middletown Journal