Citizen Ralph Nader, the champion of the Consumer Product Safety Administration, the Environmental Safety Administration and the Freedom of Information Act, came to the steps of the Downtown Berkeley Post Office yesterday to give a pep talk to the volunteer defenders of our public postal service. Some 300 listened as he encouraged us to keep up the fight against the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service and the sale of the century-old post office at 2000 Allston Way. For his tireless work of more than 50 years on behalf of working people, he deserved the warm reception he received from the crowd. But for his strategic recommendations on how to retain ownership of the USPS and its 32,000 post offices by the citizens of this country, he deserves — at best — a second chance. I have to report that he surprised me with his lack of diligence.
For those of us in attendance, Nader’s summary of the theft of USPS assets via the 2006 Postal Accountability Enhancement Act, of the Postal Service’s financial soundness prior to the commencement of that theft and of the malfeasant sale of post offices through the agency of CBRE and the former chair of its board, UC Regent Richard Blum, assured us that he was familiar with the basics of the struggle we’ve committed ourselves to. But though he rightly labeled the perpetrators of privatization as plutocrats and oligarchs, he nevertheless urged that we petition, lobby and otherwise confront Sen. Dianne Feinstein to save the public asset responsible for delivering important documents.
Feinstein has declined to submit to the will of the people on this issue many times. She has repeatedly ignored petitions and demonstrations outside her offices and her home, and it is reasonable to assume she has done so because she supports the privatization strategy of her husband, Blum, who profits from the sale of post offices just as he does from the corporatization of the University of California. Why would she oppose her husband’s contract with the USPS as sole agent in the sale of post offices when, in 2009, she introduced, without consequence, a bill to compensate the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for awarding Blum’s firm with an equally lucrative contract? Why, when she negotiated a bailout of the Perini Corporation, in which her husband was a principal investor, starting in the late 1990s? Why, when she directed that huge military contracts should be awarded to EG&G and the Carlyle Group, in which he was also a major investor?
No, Nader, we will not waste our energy on trying to convince Feinstein to protect the interests of the citizens of this country. Instead, we will hold onto what we possess in common, whether or not the congressional tools of the plutocrats help us. Our petitions go out not to corrupt politicians but to citizens as yet unaware of the dangers of privatization.
Berkeley Post Office Defender