What Would Lysander Spooner Say?

Although I’m not a progressive, I nonetheless still generally enjoy the content published by Counterpunch. Counterpunch, after all, is in my blogroll. However, occasionally they will publish something that I find to be completely bullshit. The last time I made note of such an example involved a ridiculous screed by Pam Martens regarding the Free State project that more or less reduced to advocating police state tactics to get rid of the rift raft in her neighborhood. Now I’ve found another example with this article, Saving the Postal Service (and Union Jobs), that amounts to little more than a PSA from the Post Office.

Subtitled "What Would Ben Franklin Say," the piece is an exercise in the logical fallacy of special pleading that ostensibly makes the argument that monopoly postal rates are the price we pay for funding public union pension plans. Of course, that's not how the argument is actually presented. Instead its the typical clap trap that postal delivery is a public good and austerity measures pursued by the forces of privatization threaten not only public pensions but vital Saturday delivery for little old ladies out in the boondocks who will likely drop dead as a consequence. Besides, we are told, since 1970, the post office has not accepted a nickel of tax-payer monies. And the current postmaster Patrick Donahoe(Wilford Brimley has apparently retired) promises a new era of Gorbachev-esque market reforms for our monopoly provider.

Ordinarily, I probably would have let the article slide without comment except I was struck by the subtitled reference to Franklin, the conservative appeal to tradition–why, the horrors, the “historically significant” Ben Franklin post office on Market St is under siege–and the snide reference to Somalian anarchy. Well, that did it for me. If we are going to appeal to tradition then I would only remind our author, Jack A. Smith, that it was an American anarchist, Lysander Spooner, back in 1844, who demonstratively kicked the Post Office’s collective ass, operating his American Letter Mail Company though a maze of loopholes for 7 years until the Government finally shut it down for good. But by that time, however, Spooner’s company had managed to deliver the mail, without subsidy, for a postage rate of 3 cents. As such, Spooner is the rightful father of the 3 cent stamp. The State shut down Spooner but matched the postal rate–of course, with a tax subsidy. When the direct subsidies ended in 1970, that’s when the postal rates began their current ascent.

So, Mr. Smith, little old ladies in the boondocks would have received their medicines in the mail for 3 cents–without subsidy. Now, truth be told, the Post Office is not really that high on my shit list. Frankly, I appreciate the noise. After all, little old ladies are not the only one who get their drugs through the mail.

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