Saturday, April 17, 2010

It's Not Their Fault

Thursday was tax day.  Like many others, I stood in line at the post office waiting my turn to mail returns.  It was a long line so I overheard several conversations at the windows.  In the half hour I stood there, several people angrily accused the window workers of everything from theft to greed.  I work for a tax accountant so I experienced a bit of that myself this year.  People blame the post office employee or me because they don’t like the way their tax dollars are being spent. 

First of all, I think we all agree that greed in Washington is hurting our country.  Greed in our states and greed on Wall Street are doing the same thing.  Contrary to what the character Gordon Gecko proclaimed in a movie, greed is not good.  That said, let’s move on.

Much of what I overheard is indicative of citizens who are not well-informed.  The post office does not get funding from Congress.  In 1970, President Nixon signed an executive order that created the United States Postal Service.  The Post Office Department ceased to exist and was no longer a cabinet post.  Control of the new service passed from Congress to the executive branch.  The postmaster general was replaced by a board of managers and a service CEO. 

The postal service sells bonds to cover its deficits.  Sound familiar? 

Is the post office poorly managed these days?  Undoubtedly.  Is that the fault of the people who work the windows? No more than badly-run AIG is the fault of a middle-manager’s secretary. 

If you are angry about the way in which your tax dollars are spent, write or call your political representatives.  In other words, focus your communication efforts where they might do some good. Making some poor postal worker the target of your rancor hurts both of you.

No comments: