USPS

ALEC and OREGON PROTESTERS

ALEC and OREGON PROTESTERS

Most of us are now aware of the ongoing takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy and dozens of followers. Ammon and Ryan Bundy are sons of rancher Cliven Bundy, who notably took part in an armed standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, in Nevada in 2014.

The protesters cite convictions in a local arson case against ranchers for burning more than 130 acres of federal land in 2 separate fires as being the initial cause for the occupation of the refuge. Rancher brothers, Dwight and Steven Hammond were convicted in 2012 and after losing an appeal, were sentenced and to turn themselves in the week of the takeover. The Bundys demand that the two Hammonds be released from custody as their first demand.

A second and more important demand being made by these protesters as they continue to occupy the buildings and grounds of this federal reserve, is a demand that Washington return federally owned land back to the states. Ryan Bundy laid out the militants’ demands: that the surrounding federal lands be ceded to local control.

This reflects a decades-old dispute over land rights in the United States, where local communities have increasingly sought to take back federal land.

According to the Congressional Research Service, in Nevada the U.S. owned more than 81 percent of the land in the state in 2010. In Oregon, that number hovered right around half — 53 percent of the land, more than 30 million acres of which were administered by either the BLM or the U.S. Forest Service.

The federal government owns, maintains and cares for millions of acres nationwide. Over the past two decades the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has pushed for the federal government to turn over much of this land to the individual states. Once transferred, the use of such land becomes the responsibility of the states.

ALEC’s model legislation pertaining to pursuit of taking federal land began back in 1995 and was titled the “Sagebrush Rebellion Act”.

Today, you’ll find no reference to this model legislation at ALEC’s web site because of the exposure it and other proposed “model” legislation has been given upon the “ALEC Exposed” website. ALEC has scrubbed much of their model bills following publication of their entire stash of proposed legislation in 2011.

I urge everyone to read the Sagebrush Rebellion Act to understand exactly what this conservative organization was attempting to accomplish with this proposed state legislation. At a minimum, it proposes to transfer ownership of tens of millions of acres of land to each state and allow them to continue existing leases, grazing, ranching and other income generating pursuits, with the income transferring to the states as well.

Included is the transfer of all mineral, water, oil and similar rights to the states to do with as they please….including leasing the rights to private companies, individuals and/or corporations.

…to permit ranching, mining and timber production and the development, production and transmission of energy and other public utility services under principles of multiple use which provide the greatest benefit to the people of this state“.

As I indicated previously, ALEC has erased all traces of this model legislation from their website of model bills. However ALEC Exposed retains a copy of the legislation as does the Heartland Institute (linked to above).

However, ALEC is still pursuing a takeover of federal lands today. They’ve simply changed the model legislation to a Policy Statement entitled Public Policy Statement on Transfer of Public Lands.

ALEC’s “policy” on the takeover of federal land was approved in January of last year. Below is an excerpt of that document, showing admission that though you won’t find any model legislation pertaining to this issue upon their website, they advise current legislation does exist:

This Draft Model Policy, ratified by unanimous consent on October 9, 2014 at American Lands Council (ALC) Multi-State Workshop convened in Salt Lake City, UT and on October 20, 2014 by ALC Board of Directors, resulted from that summit. This statement is supported by existing ALEC model policy and calls for the restoration to the western states their most basic right – control over their land with important exemptions for national parks, Congressionally-designated wilderness area, Indian reservations and military installations.”

They provide several uses of the land once transferred all of which ensure economic productivity. Section X provides:

x. GENERATE SELF-SUPPORTING FINANCE: Foster compatible economic productivity to support essential government services such as local roads, utilities, emergency services, public health and safety, education, justice, and other civic functions while reducing tax burdens on citizens nationally and offsetting federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools funds“.

The ALEC Board of Directors approved this public policy on January 9, 2015.

Essentially our friends at ALEC are working to cut federal income generated off these tens of million acres of land. I find this attempt at reducing federal income consistent with their pursuits of lowering corporate and high income taxes. Both the transfer of federal land and reducing taxes cuts off income to the government. With less income, the federal government would have difficulty paying down the national debt, maintaining federal employee workforce and consequently, less of an ability to function. This would allow for a louder hue and cry from the Conservative political right about our government being unable to function and meet budget requirements.

If this sounds far-fetched to you…consider what’s happened to the U.S. Post Office (USPS) since 2005 as ALEC pursued privatization of that federal agency. In 1995 ALEC proposed privatizing the USPS. Then as now, Fed Ex and UPS were members of ALEC with representatives holding positions upon ALEC’s various task forces. Both of these private companies then (and now) complain that the USPS’s first class mail and parcel post contracts are a monopoly owned by the “government” and seek access to both. Fed Ex and UPS argue that back when the USPS was enacted, there were no private companies available or willing to take on the task of delivering mail and packages…but today there are private companies willing and demanding they be allowed to deliver both at a profit.

By 2005 through ALEC they were successful in getting legislation passed by Congress to make the USPS fund retirement and healthcare for workers for the next 75 years! In 2006 the legislation passed and became known as the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act”.

Since then the USPS has been forced to set aside billions every year to fund healthcare and projected retirement benefits for workers who haven’t even been born yet. This diversion of income has caused the USPS to be unable to modernize facilities, close many facilities, lay off workers and to defend themselves against the onset of emails to replace “snail mail”.

Once the income was diverted in the manner I described above, ALEC’s Republican Alumni in Congress began expressing their views that the USPS was failing, unable to properly fund themselves or operate. They started the pursuit of privatizing the post office.

Unfortunately this is how ALEC and their Koch funded and backed politicians operate…cut off funding, tax revenue and then offer up a solution of privatization or the selling off of assets – such as federal lands and all the mineral rights.

Today it’s an armed “militia” taking over a federal facility in a remote part of Oregon demanding the federal government release convicted criminals and hand over publicly owned land to the states. It isn’t a stretch of fact to realize that the Bundy boys and their supporters are conservative believers following the proposed legislation and acting upon the ideology provided by ALEC and their conservative state members and Congressional alumni.

For a full comprehensive expose on ALEC’s attacks upon the federal level, please take a few minutes and review VLTP’s “American Legislative Exchange Council – Federal Government and Corrupt Practices” article published in 2011. In this document the chronological attack upon the USPS is laid out beginning on page 24.

Yesterday it was the USPS, today it’s the acquisition of federally owned public land. One can only wonder where ALEC’s next attack will be and when.

Where Has Color of Change Been All This Time?

saw this making its way around people’s inboxes yesterday:

postal worker cofc

A most worthy cause.  But, Color of Change, just as you were with ALEC–where have you been?  Must you wait and test the waters before capitalizing by joining in?

With ALEC you jumped in to the campaign to expose them long after so many Daily Kosother researchers had been already doing the research.  People like the Daily Kos writers who have been writing and exposing ALEC for a few years now.  People like Lisa Graves who ALECexposedhas devoted so much of her time and effort to be the face of this movement, someone whose research you take and use to raise funds and increase your membership.  People like Bob Sloan, our executive editor, among the first people to start posting about ALEC.  People like the other researchers who have been identified by ALEC as “to be avoided at all costs”.

the fold

Your claim to fame was getting corporations to quit ALEC.  You fell over yourselves promoting your work,  capitalizing  from it.  Well, how did that workMONEYPOWERANDALEC out?  VLTP has shown how half of the corporations that have quit ALEC did not do so because of their concern about ALEC’s politics.   In fact, they are giving their money to other radical right organizations funded by many of the same people and corporations that fund ALEC.  You can take a look at http://www.vltp.net/?p=4929  to see What Happened to the Corporations Who Quit ALEC.  I wonder which were forced to quit by you, and how many by the socially responsible money managers we have been reporting about?

And now you are finally, finally getting on the bandwagon trying to save the USPS.  A very worthy cause.  But where have you been since Bob Sloan exposed the plan to kill the USPS-LogoUSPS?  I know you are aware of ALEC, but where is mention of it in your donation letter?  Did you not read his special report on the ALEC/Koch Cabal Pursuing Privatization of the US Postal Service for UPS and FedEx…at http://www.vltp.net/?p=122  It was published almost 11 months ago.  Certainly you’ve had time to research how your interest in ALEC is connected to your new interest in the USPS?

No?  You were not aware of it?  Why not?  Given the tens of thousands of hits that this article has received–and continues to receive every day–how did your researchers miss this?

save america's postal service
Welcome to the fight to save the USPS.  We very sincerely applaud your efforts to raise awareness of the plight of the USPS–especially their unionized workers of all skin colors.  And we sincerely hope that you run this campaign to help save the USPS for as long as it takes.

But if you want timely information about issues that have been affected by ALEC – and the “other ALECs”, what we have called the Cabal – you should be looking at the researchers who lead the field in grass roots reporting on these issues.

You might even want to learn about ALEC’s involvement in the rest of the ALEC Internationalworld.  ALEC cannot be stopped simply by fighting them here.  Their offshore operations–funded by many of the same corporations that fund ALEC here–are there to pick up the slack.  You can read our exposure of that in our newest expose–The World Trade in International Corruption – ALEC International, posted here at http://www.vltp.net/?p=5093

Or, you might try working with everyone who is working to expose ALEC without participating in any boycotts of specific groups or people.
if we are fighting each other we can't fight the enemy

Republicans Applaud the Slow Death of the US Postal Service–VIDEO

“The USPS announced that it will end mail delivery on Saturdays this year.  Republicans in Congress have been waiting for this moment.  Ed Schultz talks to Rep. Gerry Connelly, D-VA, and letter carrier Audrey Himes about what can be done to save the postal service.”
U.S. Postal Service Reports Yearly Loss Of 15.9 Billion Dollars

This is the description of a segment on The Ed Show tonight.  You can watch the video by clicking here.

But this is not quite the full underlying story of the USPS’s predicament that it claims to be, as readers of www.vltp.net know.  Ed stops short of noting that this goes beyond the Republican Party, this goes to their owners – corporations, and their legislative “arm” – ALEC.  I guess that ALEC and the Republican Party are already so intertwined as to be indistinguishable–and that is before the new Republican Study Group-ALEC-Heritage Foundation (now headed by Jim DeMint) formal alliance as reported on in The Center for Media and Democracy‘s PR Watch by Brendan Fischer, please click here for link).

And of course, Ed Schultz needs to comply with MSNBC’s apparent business decision not to talk about ALEC–except when they otherwise make the news.

But I am very surprised about Truthout’s reporting of this.  Truthout is an excellent source for a wide range of information, and their copyrighted reports on The Other ALECs (which we re-printed with their permission here and here) go further than anyone other than VLTP or CMD’s Sourcewatch at identifying the various members of The Cabal.

Why am I surprised?  Well, here is a link to Bob Sloan’s expose on ALEC, The Koch Brothers, and the USPS as published here some 10 months ago.  And here is a link to an infographic in our Photo Gallery showing the Koch network of right wing associates.

But here is what I just don’t get:  If you treat the symptoms rather than treating the disease, you do not arrive at the cure.  If we are to neutralize ALEC then we must talk about them.  As Bob Sloan’s article showed, yes, republicans carried the bill through Congress.  Republican Members of ALEC.

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video and description were posted at:

The Ed Show
Feb. 6, 2013
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/45755822/ns/msnbc-the_ed_show/#50725523

(please note that this clip has been edited to remove the other stories being introduced in the show’s opening)

Postal Service to Cut Saturday Mail to Trim Costs

The ALEC-led death spiral for the USPS continues.  We wonder what will happen after UPS and FedEX get the USPS privatized and then decide that they are not going to deliver the mail to unprofitable routes.  Who will pick up the  slack?  Who else–WE THE TAXPAYERS!

Hey there USPS Management and Union Leaders:  get out there and fight for your survival!  Instead of death by a thousand cuts, go public with the information we have given you about the ALEC-Koch connections to the privatization efforts. http://www.vltp.net/aleckoch-cabal-pursuing-privatization-postal-service-ups-fedex/ Try out some righteous indignation on the public which is once again being manipulated to generate more profit for ALEC Corporate Members at the expense of the taxpayers – and your jobs.

WHERE ARE YOUR FELLOW MEMBERS OF ORGANIZED LABOR?  IF UNIONS DON’T STAND UP FOR EACH OTHER, ALEC-WRITTEN-LEGISLATION WILL SUCCEED AT ELIMINATING THE UNION MOVEMENT FOREVER.

HEY THERE–AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, IBEW AND ALL THE REST OF YOU UNIONS!  SUPPORT YOUR FELLOW UNION MEMBERS AND SUPPORT THE TAXPAYERS OF AMERICA.  FIGHT FOR YOUR SURVIVAL!  WHO ELSE IS GOING TO REPRESENT THE RIGHTS OF WORKERS?

Fight to survive or become history.
—The editors of www.vltp.net

WASHINGTON (AP) — Apparently trying an end-run around an unaccommodating Congress, the financially struggling U.S. Postal Service says it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to disburse packages six days a week.

In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August and could save $2 billion annually.
postmaster General Tom DonahoeFILE – In this Sept. 6, 2011 file photo Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion, the financially struggling agency says. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)The move accentuates one of the agency’s strong points — package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet services.Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday, but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.

Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages — and it repeatedly but unsuccessfully appealed to Congress to approve the move. Though an independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.

It was not immediately clear how the service could eliminate Saturday mail without congressional approval.

But the agency clearly thinks it has a majority of the American public on its side regarding the change.

Material prepared for the Wednesday press conference by Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO, says Postal Service market research and other research has indicated that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs.

“The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America’s changing mailing habits,” Donahoe said in a statement prepared for the announcement. “We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings.”

But the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Fredric Rolando, said the end of Saturday mail delivery is “a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers,” particularly businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication.

He said the maneuver by Donahoe to make the change “flouts the will of Congress, as expressed annually over the past 30 years in legislation that mandates six-day delivery.”

There was no immediate comment from lawmakers.

But others agreed the Postal Service had little choice but to try.

“If the Congress of the United States refuses to take action to save the U.S. Postal Service, then the Postal Service will have to take action on its own,” said corporate communications expert James S. O’Rourke, professor of management at the University of Notre Dame.

He said other action will be needed as well, such as shuttering smaller rural post offices and restructuring employee health care and pension costs.

“It’s unclear whether the USPS has the legislative authority to take such actions on its own, but the alternative is the status quo until it is completely cash starved,” O’Rourke said in a statement.

The Postal Service is making the announcement Wednesday, more than six months before the switch, to give residential and business customers time to plan and adjust, the statement said.

“The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports these steps as a responsible and reasonable approach to improving our financial situation,” Donahoe said. “The Postal Service has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to return to long-term financial stability and ensure the continued affordability of the U.S. Mail.”

He said the change would mean a combination of employee reassignment and attrition and is expected to achieve cost savings of approximately $2 billion annually when fully implemented.

The agency in November reported an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion for the last budget year and forecast more red ink in 2013, capping a tumultuous year in which it was forced to default on billions in retiree health benefit prepayments to avert bankruptcy.

The financial losses for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 were more than triple the $5.1 billion loss in the previous year. Having reached its borrowing limit, the mail agency is operating with little cash on hand.

The agency’s biggest problem — and the majority of the red ink in 2012 — was not due to reduced mail flow but rather to mounting mandatory costs for future retiree health benefits, which made up $11.1 billion of the losses. Without that and other related labor expenses, the mail agency sustained an operating loss of $2.4 billion, lower than the previous year.

The health payments are a requirement imposed by Congress in 2006 that the post office set aside $55 billion in an account to cover future medical costs for retirees. The idea was to put $5.5 billion a year into the account for 10 years. That’s $5.5 billion the post office doesn’t have.

No other government agency is required to make such a payment for future medical benefits. Postal authorities wanted Congress to address the issue last year, but lawmakers finished their session without getting it done. So officials are moving ahead to accelerate their own plan for cost-cutting.

The Postal Service is in the midst of a major restructuring throughout its retail, delivery and mail processing operations. Since 2006, it has cut annual costs by about $15 billion, reduced the size of its career workforce by 193,000 or by 28 percent, and has consolidated more than 200 mail processing locations, officials say.

They say that while the change in the delivery schedule announced Wednesday is one of the actions needed to restore the financial health of the service, they still urgently need lawmakers to act. Officials say they continue to press for legislation that will give them greater flexibility to control costs and make new revenues.

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This was written by PAULINE JELINEK  and posted at the Associated Press.  The original posting can be seen at http://bigstory.ap.org/article/postal-service-cut-saturday-mail-trim-costs

Massive Cuts to Postal Service a Step Towards Privatization?

editors note:  VLTP continues to follow the assault on the USPS…We wrote about this USPS privatization effort in April 2012: http://www.vltp.net/alec/senat… and released a full investigative report about such privatization efforts and how Congress was influenced to pass the The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act to begin the process of privatization: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/10What was not mentioned in this informative audio was membership in ALEC by UPS and FedEx and how ALEC lawmakers brought about the PAE Act in 2006.

Plan to restructure post office a big real estate play and boon to private courier companies

see the video at http://youtu.be/eOKY994hg5c

A proposal is currently being considered by the US Postal Service to sell its building in downtown Berkeley, CA and relocate its services. This is just one city that is feeling the impact of a crippling financial crisis currently affecting the Postal Service. In fiscal year 2012 it lost approximately 5.9 billion. And now thousands of buildings may be sold and thousands of workers laid off in what USPS says is an attempt to save itself, but critics argue is a step toward privatization.

It’s commonly understood that the internet and e-communication is causing the demise of USPS, but that’s not the full story. What seems to be the prime cause is actually a little-known law passed in 2006.

Susan Hammers, APWU: The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act requires prefunding of pensions 75 yrs into the future.

Augustine Ruiz, USPS: This is a huge burden on us and it’s unfair.

Gray Brechin, UC Berkeley faculty/activist: It seems as though it was designed to destroy the postal service. More →

Visit Delivering for America TODAY

here is something I received today that merits everyone’s attention:

A bad idea that could dismantle the U.S. Postal Service is gaining traction in Congress, and we need your help to stop it.

Working behind closed doors, holdover members of the House and Senate are trying to ram through harmful changes to the Postal Service before the end of the year — without consulting the American public.

The Postal Service needs reform, but this is not the way to do it. Any changes to this vital American institution should be made carefully, and must be based on a business model that ensures the Postal Service’s future success.

Unfortunately, the deal that is now being cobbled together takes a slash-and-burn approach. It would eliminate or drastically reduce Saturday and door service, and would slow delivery of mail and packages.

Visit Delivering for America TODAY to tell your members of Congress that you believe the Postal Service needs a workable business model that builds on the strength of its network, not tears it apart. Ask your member of Congress to wait until next year before they take up Postal Service reform.

Working behind closed doors?  If that sounds like ALEC--it is!  Furthering the aims of their corporate members who want to privatize the USPS and have been working on this plan for a long time.  If you have not read it already, please click here to read Bob Sloan’s excellent article – ALEC/Koch Cabal Pursuing Privatization of the US Postal Service for UPS and FedEx… exposing this grand theft of one of America’s most venerable resources.  More than 11 thousand people have read his report, and if you have not, you owe it to yourself to understand this situation which will affect everyone in America.

Ohio Bleeding

Paula Garfield is a 30-year veteran teacher of special education for Columbus city schools.  She was recently elected as an Ohio Education Association Delegate, and received the Columbus Education Association’s Outstanding Member of the Year award.  She was highly involved with We Are Ohio, and is a guest speaker for Ohio Women’s Democratic Caucus, War on Women, and others.  This is Paula’s blog, and it is a beautifully eloquent posting.  Paula is a member of our Facebook group–Resist The Privatization of America, where she posted this article. 

Thank you Paula.

With 24 days until the Presidential election, I spent a total of 26 hours of my weekend travelling across the State in Ohio, speaking at 3 events regarding Educators for President Obama: Women, laborers, middle class, elderly, minorities, college students,  teachers, firefighters, police, unions, pensions, postal service: we all have the same attackers. Their tactics consist of the war on women, replacing public schools with private for profit schools,replacing free public schools with the Kasich (K-suck) voucher system  attacking and dismantling of free public appropriate education, destroying planned parenthood, holding jobs for ransom.

The same Republicans try to make sure that measures don’t get by the House of Representatives and thus cannot get to the Senate .Since the Republican Party controls the House, it serves the Corporations  and not “We the People,” who elected them to represent us.

I talked about Right to Work -for less-, Voter ID Laws and other means of voter suppression across the USA in Republican governed states as I canvassed on Sunday. I knocked on doors for all Congress Reps in my voting area, delivered signs, got the appropriate forms to those  who have relocated to Columbus, Ohio.  I answered questions from a Canadian, who works here in the area, who was in disbelief about what is happening to America in comparison to Canada’s rights, freedoms.

I am just now sitting down, after finding all my lawn signs for my makeshift Democratic ballot, destroyed…some burned, some shredded.I am cleaning up what the wind scattered across my complex. I am just off the phone trying to hook up voters with signs in the district/area with field leader contacts across the state, and staring at 122 emails, all of which I must answer from people wanting to know what they can do to help because some have awakened, and have realized the impact on them, their children, their futures, their homes, their lives.

There is a great deal more covered in Paula’s article, Ohio Bleeding.  I highly recommend clicking here to read all of it.

North Carolina Advocates for Justice endorses ALEC Members – UPDATED, and it’s worse

Despite posting this to NCAJ on their Facebook page, there has been no response from anyone at NCAJ.

memo to self:  research NCAJ and see if they are what they claim to be.

updates: NCAJ endorsed candidates Marilyn Avila and Jamie Boles confirmed  as members of ALEC

 

“The North Carolina Advocates For Justice was formed more than 45 years ago by a small group of trial lawyers who wanted to protect peoples’ rights. Today, the North Carolina Advocates For Justice has almost 4,000 members and is one of the top protectors of individual rights in North Carolina. NC Advocates For Justice members represent those injured by the wrongdoing of others, workers fighting for their rights in the workplace, the disabled, those addressing family problems, consumers, those in debt, and those accused of crime.

“The North Carolina Advocates for Justice accomplishes its mission through effective advocacy work in the NC state legislature advocating for the rights of all citizens, through the development of over 40 professional development seminars annually to help attorneys improve their skills, and through the administration of a variety of public outreach and education initiatives aimed at enhancing public understanding of the US legal system. The organization’s Legal Affairs Committee also monitors the development of law and serves as a trial attorney advocate to the State Bar.”

The above is quoted directly fromo the NCAJ web page located at http://www.ncaj.com/page/about/?submenuheader=0

I want to emphasize that NCAJ is a good organization doing a lot of good work.  But it’s a shame that these well-intentioned attorneys did not bother to do their “due diligence”.  Included in their recommendations are a number of ALEC members:

Dist. 37 – Paul Stam–member Civil Justice Task Force–Art Pope‘s (who used to be, and may still be a member of  ALEC) “boy” in the legislature.

Dist. 40 – Marilyn Avila–possible member–confirmed attending ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, not on any task forces confirmed member of ALEC

Dist. 52 – Jamie Boles–possible member–confirmed attending ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, not on any task forces confirmed member of ALEC

Dist. 53 – David Lewis–possible member–confirmed attending ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, not on any task forces

Dist. 68 – D. Craig Horn – member Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force

Dist. 77 – Harry Warren–possible member–confirmed attending ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, not on any task forces

Dist. 79 – Julia Howard–member Health and Human Services Task Force

Dist. 86 – Hugh Blackwell – member Civil Justice Task Force

Dist. 90 – Sarah Stevens–was a member of the Public Safety and Elections Task force which was disbanded because of the Stand Your Ground legislation and the Trayvon Martin murder.

Dist. 108 – John Torbett–possible member–confirmed attending ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, not on any task forces

Dist. 117 – Chuck McGrady–possible member–confirmed attending ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, not on any task forces.

We know from ALECexposed and Common Cause releases that Mr. Horn is a member of ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force.  But looking at the extensive information provided by the NC Legislature, we can look at every member of the state legislature and see what bills they have introduced and how they have voted on every bill,

In the case of Mr. Horn More →

Does the USPS have Ties to ALEC?

Here at vltp.net we pay attention to the searches made by those who visit our site to see what interests our readers.

Last night the top search was  does the usps have ties to alec? which, in different iterations, is a common question.

The USPS is under attack by ALEC, which has been working for almost 10 years to have it privatized and essentially sold to ALEC members FedEX and UPS.  Please read Bob Sloan’s groudbreaking report on ALEC/Koch Cabal Pursuing Privatization of the US Postal Service for UPS and FedEx, which you can find at http://www.vltp.net/alec/aleckoch-cabal-pursuing-privatization-postal-service-ups-fedex

Saving the Post Office: Letter Carriers Consider Bringing Back Banking Services

On July 27, 2012, the National Association of Letter Carriers adopted a resolution at their national convention in Minneapolis to investigate the establishment of a postal banking system. The resolution noted that expanding postal services and developing new sources of revenue are important components of any effort to save the public post office and preserve living-wage jobs; that many countries have a long and successful history of postal banking, including Germany, France, Italy, Japan and the United States itself; and that postal banks could serve the nine million people who don’t have a bank account and the 21 million who use usurious check cashers, giving low-income people access to a safe banking system. “A USPS [United States Postal Service] bank would offer a ‘public option’ for banking,” concluded the resolution, “providing basic checking and savings – and no complex financial wheeling and dealing.”

What is bankrupting the USPS is not that it is inefficient. It has been self-funded throughout its history. But in 2006, Congress required it to prefund postal retiree health benefits for 75 years into the future, an onerous burden no other public or private company is required to carry. The USPS has evidently been targeted by a plutocratic Congress bent on destroying the most powerful unions and privatizing all public services, including education. Britain’s 150-year-old postal service is on the privatization chopping block for the same reason, and its postal workers have also vowed to fight. Adding banking services is an internationally tested and proven way to maintain post office solvency and profitability.

Serving an Underserved Market Without Going Broke

Many countries operate postal savings systems through their post offices, providing depositors without access to banks a safe, convenient way to save. Great Britain first offered this arrangement in 1861. It was wildly popular, attracting over 600,000 accounts and £8.2 million in deposits in its first five years. By 1927, there were twelve million accounts – one in four Britons -with £283 million on deposit.

Other postal banks followed. They were popular because they serviced a huge untapped market – the unbanked and underbanked. According to a Discussion Paper of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs:

The essential characteristic distinguishing postal financial services from the private banking sector is the obligation and capacity of the postal system to serve the entire spectrum of the national population, unlike conventional private banks which allocate their institutional resources to service the sectors of the population they deem most profitable.

Serving the unbanked and underbanked may sound like a losing proposition, but numerous precedents show that postal savings banks serving low-income and rural populations can be quite profitable. (See below.) In many countries, according to the UN paper, banking revenues are actually crucial to maintaining the profitability of their postal network. Letter delivery generates losses and often requires cross-subsidies from the post’s other activities in order to maintain its network. One effective solution has been to create or expand the role of postal financial services.

One reason public postal banks are profitable is that their costs are low: the infrastructure is already built and available, advertising costs are minimal and government-owned banks do not award their management extravagant bonuses or commissions that drain profits away. Rather, profits return to the government and the people.

Profits also return to the government in another way: money that comes out from under mattresses and gets deposited in savings accounts can be used to purchase government bonds. In Japan, for example, Japan Post Bank is the holder of fully one-fifth of the national debt. The government has its own captive government lender, servicing the debt at low interest rates without risking the vagaries of the international bond market. Fully 95 percent of Japan’s national debt is held domestically in one way or another. That helps explain how Japan can have the worst debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio of any major country and still maintain its standing as the world’s largest creditor. If you owe the money to yourself, it’s not really a debt.

Some Examples of Successful Public Postal Banks

Kiwibank

New Zealand’s profitable postal bank had a return on equity of 11.7 percent in the second half of 2011, with net profits almost trebling. It is the only New Zealand bank able to compete with the big four Australian banks that dominate the New Zealand financial sector.

In fact, Kiwibank was set up for that purpose. When the New Zealand postal banks were instituted in 2002, it was not to save the post office, but to save New Zealand families and small businesses from big-bank predators. By 2001, Australian mega-banks controlled some 80 percent of New Zealand’s retail banking. Profits went abroad and were maximized by closing less profitable branches, especially in rural areas. The result was to place hardships on many New Zealand families and small businesses.

The New Zealand government decided to launch a state-owned bank that would compete with the Aussie banks. To keep costs low while still providing services in communities throughout New Zealand, the planning team opened bank branches in post offices, establishing Kiwibank as a subsidiary of the government-owned New Zealand Post.

Suddenly, New Zealanders had a choice in banking. In an early version of the “move your money” campaign, 500,000 customers transferred their deposits to public postal banks in Kiwibank’s first five years – this in a country of only four million people. Kiwibank consistently earns the nation’s highest customer satisfaction ratings, forcing the Australia-owned banks to improve their service in order to compete.

China‘s State-Owned Postal Savings Bureau

With the assistance of the People’s Bank of China (the central bank), China’s Postal Savings Bureau was re-established in 1986 after a 34-year lapse. As in New Zealand, savings deposits flooded in, showing an extraordinary growth rate of over 50 percent annually in the first half of the 1990s and over 24 percent annually in the second half. By 1998, postal savings accounted for 47 percent of China Post’s operating revenues; and 80 percent of China’s post offices provided postal savings services. The Postal Savings Bureau has served as a vital link in mobilizing income and profits from the private sector, providing credit that is available to finance local development. In 2007, the Postal Savings Bank of China was set up from the Postal Savings Bureau and established as a state-owned limited company, which continues to provide postal banking services.

Japan Post Bank 

By 2007, Japan Post was the largest holder of personal savings in the world, boasting combined assets for its savings bank and insurance arms of more than ¥380 trillion (US$3.2 trillion). It was also the largest employer in Japan. As in China, Japan Post recaptures and mobilizes income from the private sector, funding the government at low interest rates and protecting the nation’s sovereign debt from raids by foreign speculators.

Switzerland‘s Swiss Post

Postal financial services are by far the most profitable activity of Swiss Post, which suffers heavy losses from its parcel delivery and only marginal profits from letter delivery operations.

India‘s Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) 

POSB is India’s largest banking institution and its oldest, having been established in the latter half of the 19th century following the success of the postal savings bank system in England. Operated by the government of India, it provides small savings banking and financial services. The Department of Posts is now seeking to expand these services by obtaining a license for the creation of a full-fledged bank that would offer full lending and investing services.

Russia‘s PochtaBank

Russia, too, is seeking to expand its post office services. The head of the highly successful state-owned Sberbank has stepped down to take on the task of revitalizing the Russian post office and create a post office bank. PochtaBank will operate in the Russian Post’s 40,000 local post offices. The post office will function as a banking institution and compete on equal footing not only with private banks, but with Sberbank itself.

Brazil‘s ECT

Brazil instituted a postal banking system in 2002 on a public/private model with the national postal service (ECT), forming a partnership with the largest private bank in the country (Bradesco) to provide financial services at post offices. The current partnership is with Bank of Brazil. ECT (also known as Correios) is one of the largest state-owned companies in Latin America, with an international service network reaching more than 220 countries worldwide.

The US Postal Savings System

The now-defunct US Postal Savings System was also quite successful in its day. It was set up in 1911 to get money out of hiding, attract the savings of immigrants accustomed to saving at post offices in their native countries, provide safe depositories for people who had lost confidence in private banks and furnish depositories that had longer hours and were more convenient for working people than what private banks provided. The minimum deposit was $1 and the maximum was $2,500. The postal system paid two percent interest on deposits annually. It issued US Postal Savings Bonds in various denominations that paid annual interest, as well as Postal Savings Certificates and domestic money orders. Savings in the system spurted to $1.2 billion during the 1930s and jumped again during World War II, peaking in 1947 at almost $3.4 billion.

The US Postal Savings System was shut down in 1967, not because it was inefficient, but because it became unnecessary after the profitability of catering to the unbanked and underbanked became apparent to the private financial sector. Private banks then captured the market, raising their interest rates and offering the same governmental guarantees that the Postal Savings System had.

Time to Revive the US Postal Savings System? 

Today, the market of the unbanked and underbanked has grown again, including about one in four US households, according to a 2009 FDIC survey. Without access to conventional financial services, people turn to an alternative banking market of bill pay, prepaid debit cards and check cashing services, as well as payday loans. The unbanked pay excessive fees for basic financial services, are susceptible to high-cost predatory lenders  and have trouble buying a home and other assets because they have little or no credit history. On average, a payday borrower pays back $800 for a $300 loan, with $500 purely going toward interest. Low-income adults in the US spend over five billion dollars paying off fees and debt associated with predatory loans every year. People with access to banks are better able to resist these services and break the cycle of poverty.

Another underserviced market is the rural population. In May, a move to shutter 3,700 low-revenue post offices was halted only by months of dissent from rural states and their lawmakers, who said the cost cutting would hurt their communities. Banking services are also more limited for farmers following the 2008 financial crisis. With shrinking resources for obtaining credit, family farmers and ranchers are finding it increasingly difficult to stay in their homes.

Postal banking could be a win-win in these circumstances, providing jobs and income for the post office along with safe and inexpensive banking services for underserviced populations. Countries such as Russia and India are exploring full-fledged lending services through their post offices; but if lending to the underbanked seems too risky, a US postal bank could follow the lead of Japan Post and use the credit generated from its deposits to buy safe and liquid government bonds. That could still make the bank a win-win-win, providing income for the post office, safe and inexpensive depository and checking services for the underbanked and a reliable source of public funding for the government.

Sunday, 12 August 2012 | by Ellen Brown

Copyright, Truthout.org.  Reprinted with permission.
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