In framing Bank of America’s decision to slip customers who bank electronically into higher-fee checking accounts as only leaving them the option of currency exchanges, Robert Reed (in a recent Chicago Tribune article) missed a golden opportunity to insist the Post Office reinstate the minor bank services it used to offer, before 1966, an ongoing dark time when bank lobbyists quashed this community asset.
Thanks to people annually ordering billions of items online, the USPS delivers more packages than ever. Along with allowing it – for instance – to sell fishing licenses and to notarize documents, the post office could return to offering small banking functions.
The Post Office is, in most cases, in exactly the same buildings they’ve long been in, the same ones where bank operations happened prior to the mid-60s. The newer postal buildings have never known bank service, which doesn’t mean they never could or never should; any extra space hopefully means it should be of little trouble to retrofit anything. Chicago’s main post office for example, built in the early 90s, has cavernous public spaces which have for years stood unused.
There have been calls for the Post Office to be privatized, which it doesn’t need. In spite of Congress demanding it pay its pension obligations for 75 years into the future (which no other business or group is forced to) it is not broke.
If Trump truly cared for the not-so-well-off, he would have already executive-ordered the Post Office to return its banking opportunities (and attendant jobs) to all sites. The middle class and poor alike could then steer well away from payday loan sharks and pawn shops, transferring their attention and time and monies to the good old post office, where they could safely obtain reliable and local loans, and money orders – and, as always, passports and stamps.