Wednesday, August 26, 2020
The U.S. Postal Service used to be essential to the normal functioning of the American Democratic Republic.
It no longer is. It is an anachronism wrapped in obsolescence that should be in a museum due to being left behind by 21st-century technology and sensibilities.
The post office was one of the few specifically designated responsibilities of the federal government in the new U.S. Constitution passed in 1787. Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general in 1775 under the Continental Congress.
But the world of 1775 America, or even 1995 America, is nowhere close to the business- and technology-driven world of America in 2020. The USPS has outlived its usefulness and needs to be phased out and ultimately eliminated.
The U.S. Postal Service of 2020 is essentially a massive taxpayer-subsidized jobs protection program that delivers mostly junk mail to your house. That is promptly thrown into the recycling bin so it can be recycled into more junk mail to be mailed at subsidized rates to your home next month and the next month and the next month.
The cost of a Forever stamp to mail a regular payment or old-fashioned letter is 55 cents. Bulk mail can be sent at a discount of up to 70% for 19 cents per piece. More than 150 billion pieces of junk mail, including 10 billion glossy print catalogs, were mailed via USPS to American households in 2016.
Without such massive taxpayer-supported bulk mail, U.S. postal workers would only be delivering a minuscule amount of “regular” mail today since so much of it has gone online with electronic payments and email. Some estimates say that 18 pieces of “junk” mail are delivered for every piece of legitimate mail today.
The USPS should not exist primarily to serve as a mass marketing delivering mechanism for our nation’s retailers, not at a time when 50% of all commerce is now taking place online through Amazon and the online function of every retailer from Walmart to a local vendor.
The U.S. taxpayer has had to cough up close to $100 billion over the past decade to keep the U.S. Postal Service solvent. It is usually couched in terms of a “loan” from the federal government, but even government loans are supposed to be paid back one day. The Democrat House coronavirus relief package had a $25 billion loan in it for the USPS and full forgiveness of past indebtedness before it was taken out in the Senate before final passage.
Total salaries for the nation’s 620,000 postal workers has remained stable for the past decade, between $17 billion and $20 billion annually. However, health care liabilities have escalated dramatically from $11 billion in 2012 to close to $50 billion today for current employees and the roughly 500,000 postal annuitants and survivors.
Rapidly rising health care costs are making it impossible to fully cover the costs of delivering legitimate and junk mail by postage only.
Anything that is delivered by USPS today, including prescriptions, can be delivered by private carriers such as UPS or FedEx more efficiently and on time. Bulk mail can be delivered at market rates by FedEx or UPS if marketers are willing to pay the freight. If not, those marketing efforts can go online as everything else has done.
Getting rid of junk mail from the USPS would have the added benefit of saving 100 million trees and remove 5.6 million tons from our nation’s landfills annually. What could be more green than that?
The U.S. Postal Service has long served America’s best interests since our founding. But times change, technology changes and we are not going to be sending physical letter mail to the moon via USPS astronauts in Elon Musk’s Dragon spaceships in the 21st century.
It is time to begin the phase-down of the U.S. Postal Service and face the reality of the significantly diminished need for such taxpayer-supported services. We are not 1776 America anymore.
(first published in North State Journal 8/26/20)
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Using mail-in ballots without any safeguards, computer scanning capabilities or advanced security measures might be the most dangerous idea of the progressive left yet.
There are 250 million people 18 years of age and older living in America. About 230 million of them are legal citizens eligible to vote. Another 20 million are not legal citizens who are eligible to vote. Of the legal citizens in this country, 153 million, or 67%, of the 230 million legal citizens in America, are registered to vote.
Seventy-five million citizens who are legally eligible to vote in the US today, or 33%, are not on any legally recognized voter registration rolls in any state in America. That is not a result of “voter suppression” as many on the left want to blame on Republicans.
For the vast majority of them, it is self-chosen apathy — boredom with politics or thinking their vote does not make a difference. People have the freedom to not vote as much as they do to vote in America.
Of the 155 million people who are legally registered to vote, 138 million voted in the 2016 presidential elections. That is 90% — a very high percentage. But it represents only 55% of the voting-age population — which is pretty low.
Which brings us to the battle cry of “Mail-in Ballots in the Age of COVID!”
In-person voting ensures ballot integrity. In the olden days, people who lived in small rural towns knew everyone by face and name. They didn’t need computer facial-recognition technology because they had physical human face recognition.
As populations expanded and people became more mobile, mail-in ballots in the form of absentee ballots were used to accommodate people who could not vote in person on Election Day.
Absentee ballots are perhaps the most secure way to ensure ballot integrity. A legally registered voter has to sign a written request for an absentee ballot to be sent to their house, which can be checked by elections board staff prior to sending the ballot. When the voter has filled-out their ballot, it is attested to by another person, usually in the family, signed again by the voter and mailed back to the elections board postmarked before the election. Election officials have two steps to ensure the voter is exactly the same person as they said they were when requesting the ballot.
States such as Oregon have for years sent ballots to all registered voters to be returned by mail before election day to great success. However, Oregon and six other states have spent millions of dollars on sophisticated computer technology that can scan every returned ballot against their signature on record to make sure the person who filled out the ballot is actually the same person who is registered in that name and at that address.
North Carolina does not have that level of computer sophistication to handle such massive applications of mail-in ballots. It surely can’t be bought and set up in the next six weeks.
If states such as North Carolina went to open-ended mail-in ballots without any security systems in place, ballots would be mailed to 7.2 million registered voters with no signed requests asking for one. Only 4.7 million voted in 2016. God only knows how many of the remaining 2.5 million ballots would be filled out and returned by God only knows whom, and if they were legal citizens or not.
Google “McCrae Dowless, Bladen County 2018 congressional elections” if you need to see proof of a more modern example of what can be done with unrestricted unmarked ballots. That was not the first time Mr. Dowless did such a thing in North Carolina politics in the past 40 years.
But it was the first time in decades a political operative had been caught red-handed cheating at the ballot box at such a massive level.
A tsunami of mail-in ballots would swamp local boards of elections that would take months to comb through voter registration files and try to find a match between the signature on the mail-in ballot and their voter registration card that could have been filled out decades ago in another county.
Sending out ballots to every registered voter is asking for big trouble. Hasn’t 2020 been bad enough already?
(first published in North State Journal 8/12/20)
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
There has never been a poll conducted before a presidential election that has been right on the money on election day. Not even the last poll on the last day before Election Day.
The Pew Research Center released a report that said the error in final polls for Trump versus Hillary was a “historically low 2%” in 2016. Final polls have been off by up to 6% in elections dating back to 1960.
But 2% is a lot of voters. Almost 130 million people voted in 2016. A 2% “error” rate is 2.6 million voters swinging one way or another for or against Trump or Clinton.
That is not nearly as exact as many people believe. Polls could be off an average of 50,000 votes in every state, which could be the margin of victory in many races. Gov. Roy Cooper won in North Carolina by only 10,000 votes, to name one example.
Some people are panicking because summer polls show Joe Biden way ahead of Trump nationally and, more importantly, in the key swing states. National polls are truly meaningless when it comes to presidential races. Throw them out the next time you see one. Donald Trump could lose California and New York by 10 million votes apiece and the national popular vote by 10 points and still win the electoral college with the same number of votes, 304, he won in 2016.
If elections occurred in the summer and produced results as polls indicated at the time, there would have been only one Republican president elected since 1980: Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Campaign momentum changes from July to November in every presidential election. Mistakes are made. Foreign crises erupt. Financial swings, both good and bad, occur. Campaigns define the other candidate as the Spawn of Satan better than the opposition does in return.
In the summer of 1864, Abraham Lincoln was sure he was going to lose re-election to Democratic candidate General George McClellan, who promised to sue for peace with the Confederate government and end the war if elected. Atlanta fell to Union forces under General William Tecumseh Sherman on Sept. 3, and Lincoln went on to win 221 out of 233 electoral votes, all in the North of course.
Ronald Reagan trailed incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter in 1980 for most of the campaign after he held a slim 37-34 lead in late July polls. Two weeks before the 1980 election, Reagan trailed Carter by 9 points, 48-37. He went on to crush Jimmy Carter in the largest electoral blowout of an incumbent president in US history, 489-49.
Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush are the only two Republican candidates to hold a lead of any kind in late July in any of the past 10 presidential elections. Bush 43 traded leads with VP Al Gore in 2000 more times than a tight Duke-Carolina basketball game, before squeaking out the victory when the Supreme Court ruled on hanging chads and recounting votes in Florida.
President Donald Trump may wind up being the political equivalent of the meteor that hit the Yucatan peninsula 66 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs and left behind an interesting story for future historians to unravel.
Or President Trump could follow the trend of every Republican candidate in the past and close the polling gap in September and October after defining Biden with tons of negative ads while focusing on law and order and prosperity issues. He could demolish Biden in the debates as Reagan destroyed Carter with one simple quip — “There you go again!” — and Mondale with, “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”
It could happen. Not one prominent Democrat or Republican pollster was right about the outcome of the 2016 election during the summer of 2016 all the way up to election day. What makes anyone think they are going to be 100% correct in 2020?