Why The Post Office Matters
The United States Postal Service needs help from Congress and, so far, it doesn’t look like it is going to get it. Instead, anti-Postal Service advocates in Congress and at the Cato Institute have seized on a congressionally-created fiscal “crisis” to argue that the Post Office should be fundamentally restructured, or even replaced by a private entity which could compete in the private market. The Post Office is currently a captive of the anti-federal government ideology that has swept this nation, the same ideology that almost led to the default of our government a year ago today. Though the postal service is not really a branch of the government (for example, it is not funded by federal taxes), it is a large federal program which has contact with all of us, every day. The debate over the Post Office reflects divisions over the role that the federal government should (or should not) play in our daily lives, but there is more. What’s really at issue in this controversy is the role that the Post Office plays in our constitutional democracy.
Stop and consider for a moment the fact that the Framers of our constitution included the power “to establish Post Offices and Post Roads” on the paltry list of the enumerated powers of Congress in Article I, along with the power to regulate commerce, establish a uniform rule of naturalization, organize and provide for the armed forces, coin money, and a few other things. Why did the Framers consider a national post office to be so important that they included it on this short list? Because there is a unifying theme behind all of these enumerated powers – they wanted to give Congress the authority to enact measures that would help to create and sustain a healthy, functioning democratic nation.
Read the rest at Balkinization.