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Letter: Residents need Mandaree post office

The U.S. Postal Service wants to permanently close the Mandaree post office and over 70 other rural post offices in North Dakota as a part of the USPS restructuring.

The Mandaree post office serves 800 residents. Further, the Mandaree population is also increasing. Some Mandaree residents don't have email or Internet access. The only way to get time-sensitive mail like bills, legal documents, prescription drugs and other mail is through our local post office.

Mandaree School (kindergarten through 12) relies on this post office for timely mailings to school parents.

Under the Postal Service's "proposed" plan, Mandaree residents were told to drive to the nearby towns, Watford City and New Town, for needed mailboxes. For some Mandaree residents, this will require a 120-mile round trip to get the mail.

Mandaree residents are expected to take on unreasonable costs to receive the same mail services that no urban North Dakota resident is required to absorb.

This is unfair and contrary to the mandatory USPS "universal service obligation." Nationally, USPS has selected over 3,500 small and rural post offices for permanent closure.

However, closing these needed post offices will only save seven-tenths of 1 percent of the national USPS budget.

The real story behind this manufactured USPS crisis remains hidden from the American public. For years, Congress has acquiesced to powerful, commercial interests looking for ways to undercut the critical public service that the USPS provides so that the complete privatization of all mail services will occur.

USPS has been the only unfunded federal agency since the mid-80s. American taxpayers did not subsidize it. This means it made a profit and the service is needed.

In 2006, Congress told USPS to pre-pay $75 billion in retirement benefits within just 10 years -- and still make a profit each year. A pre-payment over $5 billion was due this year. The USPS management has made its mistakes too.

Right now, there's a $6.9 billion overpayment of retirement benefits. But Congress refuses to let the postal service apply this overpayment to its budget crisis. Instead, Mandaree -- and over 70 other little communities in North Dakota -- will be permanently harmed by closing our critically-needed rural post offices. This will only be the beginning.

If the entire postal system is eliminated, all Americans who need mail services will be at the mercy of a commercial mail service driven by profit -- and not by public service.

Theodora Bird Bear, Mandaree