Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Destruction of the U.S. Postal Service Is Quietly Being Delivered to Madison

Shhh... There’s a Meeting...
The U.S. Postal Service recently announced it was doing an “Area Mail Processing” study to evaluate transfer of some mail-processing operations from Madison to Milwaukee. In other words, the USPS is planning to drastically reduce the size of the processing operation here in Madison, resulting in the loss of first-class mail service as well as 54 jobs in Madison. All mail received from southwestern Wisconsin would be shipped 73 miles from Madison to Milwaukee for processing, and then the portion of that destined for southwestern Wisconsin would be trucked back to Madison for further processing and distribution.

On Wednesday, May 15, at 5pm (too late for media to include it in that day’s news), a public meeting was very quietly announced at which the USPS will share the initial results of the “study,” which it is claimed supports the “business case for consolidation.” The community, postal employees, and the unions were given only 14 days’ notice of the meeting. The material to be presented at that meeting was released only seven days in advance.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, at 7:00pm at the Alliant Energy Center, Exhibition Hall B. If you care about the local economy, local employment, and the continuation of first-class mail service, please plan to be there, and encourage friends and family members to attend as well.

The End of First-Class Mail
When the postal services says its “future network” would support 2- to 3-day service standards, what it’s really saying is that it plans to eliminate first-class mail altogether (even if they still call it that, it won't be first-class service as we now know it). So even a piece of mail going from one side of Madison to the other would be shipped to Milwaukee and back again before being delivered. Currently mail posted before 8pm is processed that same evening. The proposed “revised entry times” would mean that the last collection would be earlier in the day, further slowing mail delivery.

What the USPS is proposing, to take Madison’s outgoing mail processing to Milwaukee, is already being done with Saturday mail. Currently, a letter mailed across town in Madison on a Monday is processed here in Madison and arrives at its destination on Tuesday. But a letter mailed across town on a Saturday is now shipped to Milwaukee on Saturday night, is processed, and then shipped back to Madison for further processing on Monday, and doesn’t arrive at its destination until Tuesday.

Even if first-class mail volume is down, the service is essential and is extremely valuable to residential customers and small businesses. Lower volume does not mean that the service is less valuable or is unnecessary. Moreover, the prices charged for all the different classes of mail are absurdly low. Raising the price for first-class delivery would be far preferable to losing the service altogether. Postmaster General Donahoe says the postal service doesn’t want to raise its rates, but he gives no indication as to why.

Moreover, once first-class mail service is gone, there will be no getting it back. The postal service is piece-by-piece dismantling its processing capabilities, so even were mail volume to increase in the future (which it very possibly could), the postal service would no longer be able to provide first-class service. The public’s only option would be to procure the service through private delivery companies that would charge an astronomically higher price than the USPS.

The USPS’s claim to “preserve the ability to provide and finance secure, reliable and affordable universal delivery service” is specious at best. It’s not going to “enhance commerce” to slow mail delivery.

The Presumed Savings
The postal service spuriously claims that the proposed “consolidation” would save some $5 million per year. But the USPS’s annual revenue is roughly $65 billion per year. Even if the estimated savings were accurate (which they aren’t), and even if the same savings were achieved in a hundred different locations, it would save only a half-billion dollars and would not significantly lower the claimed budget gap of roughly $10 billion per year. These would be shockingly small savings for destroying not only service but also invaluable, irreplaceable infrastructure.

The postal service claims that it has “excess capacity” and that parts of its operation are idle owing to low mail volume. However, the reason for idleness is that mass mailers are given deep discounts for doing sorting work that the USPS would otherwise do. The costs of doing that work are largely fixed costs; we’ve already paid them. We’ve built the plants, acquired the equipment, hired and trained the staff. So having outside mail companies do that work does not save those costs, but huge discounts are granted anyway. In other words, the USPS is giving away the store. It regularly loses large amounts of money because of those huge discounts it grants to bulk mailers.

Postal management claims it will save $4 million per year by eliminating 30 mail-processing jobs (54 fewer in Madison and 24 more in Milwaukee). Yet the eliminations would be the new hires who work part-time for about $15 per hour, with few benefits, making on the order of $15,000 per year each. Thirty fewer such positions would save about half a million dollars. The claim of $4 million in savings is high by a factor of 10 (even if the mail processing and distribution really could be done with 30 fewer employees—rather than more employees, as is likely).

The USPS claims that the consolidation is part of its plan to “protect U.S. taxpayers.” Say what? No tax dollars—no federal funds or appropriations—go to the postal service. Moreover, the way the postal service is supposed to work is that it should charge enough for its services to cover its costs. However, the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act tied rate increases to the consumer price index, in spite of fuel costs rising much faster than the CPI. The law also demands $5.5 billion per year to fund 75 years’ worth of future retiree medical costs within ten years—an onerous requirement no other government agency is subject to.

The Costs of Consolidation
At a time when everyone else on the planet is coming up with ways to drive less in order to lower fuel consumption and reduce environmental damage, the USPS is increasing its fuel consumption in the name of cost savings. Transportation and mail-handling costs will rise significantly with the increased movement of mail to and from Milwaukee, causing significant wear and tear on the roads, along with increased traffic congestion (and accidents) and fuel consumption. Not to mention the how the vicissitudes of Wisconsin weather would impact increased shipping during the peak mailing season in December. It’s not a more efficient transportation network when mail is needlessly shipped 150 miles or more because of reduced processing capacity.

During times of peak volume the efficiency of the mail system will decrease. With slower service, the mail will be in the USPS’s possession longer, thereby clogging up the plants and increasing opportunities for mail to be lost or misdirected. During the month of December, when mail volume is at its yearly peak, both the Madison and Milwaukee processing plants are heavily used. Concentrating all the mail processing from southern Wisconsin in Milwaukee, even if some extra equipment and workers were added there, would seriously clog that plant’s operations, especially in December.

The “consolidation” and other plant closings in Wisconsin represent significant destruction of valuable postal infrastructure that cannot be restored. Already ten mail-processing plants in the area have been or are being closed: Kenosha, Portage, Oshkosh, Wausau, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Rockford IL, Duluth MN, Rochester MN, and Kingsford MI. In areas where plants have closed, service has declined and savings, if any, have not been significant. Further decimation of the infrastructure will severely limit the postal service’s ability to deliver the mail and will result in few if any savings.

Job Losses
Postal management projects that with its consolidation plan it would eliminate 54 jobs in Madison. This smaller workforce, however, would be responsible for the increase in mail-handling and transportation between the Madison and Milwaukee plants. Many career employees in Madison have already been replaced with part-time, low-wage, low-benefit workers. Employees have not been laid off, but they have been transferred to other facilities, some of which are subsequently downsized or closed.

And yet the postal service claims that its proposal will “maintain fairness to employees.” The claim doesn’t square with how employees’ are moved to other locales only to find those jobs also being eliminated. Nor does it square with Postmaster General Donahoe’s assertion that cost savings will be accrued via “worker compensation reforms,” in other words, lower pay.

A Manufactured Crisis with a Simple Solution
The “consolidation” proposal in Madison is part of the relentless ongoing step-by-step march toward privatization. Large commercial mailers, which USPS management frequently refer to as “stakeholders,” don’t want first-class mail service, and they shudder at the thought of paying high enough prices to provide paying postal employees a living wage. Those commercial mailers enjoy constant access to USPS top management; they even have an office inside USPS headquarters in Washington, in the guise of a “Mailers Technical Advisory Committee.” In this and other ways it is the mass mailers who’ve captured control of USPS decision making, and they are the ones pushing for ever-lower costs and the destruction of the postal infrastructure.

The USPS claims that it has a “massive nationwide infrastructure that is no longer financially sustainable.” It claims that its “dire financial position requires urgent action to ensure continued mail delivery and to restore long-term self sufficiency.” But that valuable, irreplaceable infrastructure would indeed be financially sustainable, and the postal service’s financial position would be no longer be so “dire” if only Congress would require the USPS to charge customers enough to cover its costs, free the USPS from the ludicrously burdensome requirement to prefund retirement for yet-to-be-born employees, and require that overly generous discounts to large commercial mailers be discontinued.

Residential Customers’ Postal Board
Heretofore residential customers have not been represented in deliberations concerning the USPS. It is essential, then, that a residential customers’ postal board be formed along the same lines as the Citizens’ Utility Boards. The Residential Customers’ Postal Board would need to hire researchers and lobbyists to work on behalf of the American people, to exercise a counterweight to the outsize influence of the large commercial mailers, to shine a bright light on USPS management and its masters in the mailing industry, and to lobby on behalf of residential customers before the Postal Regulatory Commission, the Postal Board of Governors, USPS management, the U.S. Congress, and the president.

If you’re interested in working toward the formation of a Residential Customers’ Postal Board, please contact us at

Your Action Is Needed
Come to the meeting and make your voice heard: Alliant Energy Center, Exhibition Hall B, on Wednesday at 7pm. Review the talking points and help us make sure each is addressed at the meeting.

Write a letter (postmarked no later than June 13, 2013) opposing the “consolidation plan” and the elimination of first-class mail even if you attend the meeting (sample letter here). Mail the letter to

Manager, Consumer & Industry Contact
Lakeland District
PO Box 5008
Milwaukee, WI 53201-5008

And finally, please sign and share the “Save Our Post Office” petition, Wisconsin edition.

Sample Letter

Please note that your letter must be postmarked by June 13, 2013.

Manager, Consumer & Industry Contact
Lakeland District
PO Box 5008
Milwaukee, WI 53201-5008

Dear Postal Service Representative,
I am writing to urge that the mail-processing operation in Madison not be downsized or consolidated. I am especially concerned about the delays in service and the loss of jobs in Madison. What is being proposed is essentially the elimination of first-class mail service. Whereas now, on weekdays, mail going to a destination in southwestern Wisconsin very often arrives the next day, if the proposed consolidation takes place, delivery times will slow to two or three days or longer, especially in December when mail volume is up and in the winter months when road conditions are hazardous.

I am also concerned that at a time when we should be reducing the consumption of fuel, the USPS is planning to increase its fuel consumption to truck mail farther to be processed. The increased use of the roads will add to traffic congestion and will cause further wear and tear to the roads as well as damage to the environment caused by increased emissions and fuel consumption.

The USPS’s claims to save $146,462 per year on transportation—while moving all mail coming into Madison to Milwaukee every day, then moving Madison’s mail back a day or two later—is obviously false. With the consolidation plan, transportation costs will undoubtedly increase substantially. Moreover, the need for mail handling work will increase in both Madison and Milwaukee, as all the mail will need to be moved on and off trucks in both cities.

The permanent destruction of first-class mail service, along with the sacrifice of 54 jobs in Madison, is far too high a price to pay for what will amount to minuscule savings (if any) for the postal service. A far better solution would be to raise postal rates for all postal customers enough so that the USPS would be able to cover its costs. Just because mail volume is currently low doesn’t mean that it will stay that way. And decreased volume does not mean that the service is any less valuable to those who use the service and rely on it.

The postal service needs to be strengthened and improved, not dismantled. It will not be improved or “saved” by destroying it, which is essentially what this plan amounts to. I cannot express my opposition to it strongly enough.


Meeting Talking Points

The Milwaukee Plant
The Milwaukee Processing and Distribution Center is in a leased building.  We're told the lease will expire in 2015--and that the plant itself is not well suited to mail processing.  It's a 4-story building.  It shakes alarmingly when a train goes by.  Chunks of concrete fall off the bottom of the ramp the semi trucks take to the third-floor loading dock--onto the employee parking area below.  The plant is prime downtown Milwaukee real estate; the owner receives little money from USPS.  It seems likely that the building will be unavailable after the lease expires in 2015.  The building was not designed for heavy equipment.  Putting more equipment, more employees, and more mail--and the mail staying there longer--will stress the load-bearing structure of the plant.  Postal leadership may be setting up a Bangladesh-style disaster right here in Wisconsin.

The USPS is not a business. It is a government-owned and -run public service. We rely on first-class service, including one-day service within a few hours’ drive, to keep us connected, knit the country together in ways not possible without it. We are a poorer country with each postal facility closed or service reduced.

"39 U.S.C 101(a) The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the nation together. . . .  It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services in all communities."

"(d) Postal rates shall be established to apportion the costs of all postal operations to all users of the mail on a fair and equitable basis."

Current law requires that prompt, reliable, efficient postal service be maintained to all areas, and that the cost of doing so be apportioned to the users.  Abandoning service and failing to charge mailers the cost of maintaining the postal infrastructure is in violation of current law.

Delays in Service
Moving operations to Milwaukee will add 1 to 2 business days' delay to all mail. The move will permanently destroy USPS’s ability to provide first-class service. There will be no more 1-day service. Even from Madison to Madison. The best will be 2- to 3-day service. What of the cost to the public of the loss of this needed service?

Delays in Service/Community Economic Impact
When businesses ship items such as live poultry and fish, they will more likely arrive as dead poultry and fish. These and other mail-order businesses will lose viability, as customers abandon mail-order for faster options. And the customers who must themselves drive to the supplier rather than relying on mail service bear a combined cost to themselves in transportation and time far in excess of any possible savings to USPS by hauling southwest Wisconsin’s mail to Milwaukee, and back, rather than sorting in Madison.

Netflix customers will increasingly abandon postal delivery in favor of electronic delivery.  With the Madison plant in operation, when I send a Netflick or other letter from Madison to Madison on a Monday, it arrives there on Tuesday.  But that same mailpiece, if mailed after hours on Friday, goes to Milwaukee for processing: and doesn't arrive at its destination in Madison sometimes until Wednesday.  Time-sensitive mail will abandon USPS in the absence of next-day local delivery.  This will further erode revenue and volume.

USPS proposes to "save" $4 million by getting rid of some 54 Madison workers.  But the loss to the community will be many times the "savings" to USPS.  Those workers and their families will no longer have that money to spend on rent, food, entertainment, transportation, medical care, education, anything they spend money on.  The loss of 54 jobs in Madison will force loss of revenue to all the local businesses where these workers spent money.  Some of these businesses will lose workers too.  There's a multiplier effect--the community will lose many times the "savings" USPS gropes for.  And service will suffer.

Collection Time Changes
Eliminating the last one or more mail pickups of the day is just another way of delaying a portion of the day’s mail, above and beyond the 1- to 2-day delay suffered by mail posted earlier in the day.

Customer Service Problems
Lost and misplaced mail would be more common with all Madison and Milwaukee mail stuffed into the Milwaukee plant. All mail spending at least 1 or 2 more days in processing means carts of mail clogging the processing and distribution center, with clerks and mail handlers having to hunt among the scrum for—hopefully all?—the mail needed.

Increased Costs
Moving all mail collected in southwestern Wisconsin, from Jefferson to the Mississippi River and from northern Adams county to the Illinois line, to Milwaukee for processing—then moving all mail going to the area back to Madison, would add greatly to transportation costs—and fuel prices keep rising.

Lack of Credibility
The USPS’s claim that the consolidation plan would save $146,462 per year on transportation—while moving all mail coming into Madison to Milwaukee every day, then moving our mail back a day or two later—is an obvious falsehood. Mail handler work will increase too in both Madison and Milwaukee, as all mail would have to be moved on and off trucks on both ends.

The USPS’s claim of saving $4,085,986 per year on mail processing employees, with net 30 fewer craft employees, $136,200 per employee if none were maintenance employees, plus $551,334 in maintenance savings—alongside the claimed $387,822 yearly savings on 6 fewer managers or supervisors, $64,600 per head, clearly shows USPS is being dishonest in its claimed savings. Recall that if jobs are to be eliminated, it must be the new, part-time, low-wage, noncareer positions, which earn on the order of $15,000 per year. And a couple fewer technicians would not save half a million dollars.

Lack of Trust
To propose to permanently destroy first-class service for fictitious “savings” of $5 million per year, when expenses exceed revenue on the order of $10 billion per year, shows USPS’s destruction of service to be gratuitous—the USPS does not even purport that more than negligible savings could be achieved. And the savings are illusory. Transportation costs would increase and would continue to increase. And the quoted “savings” numbers are self-evidently false.

Bulk Rates
The USPS chooses self-destruction, and destruction of the largest middle-class workforce in the nation, in preference to charging mailers a fraction more to cover the cost of maintaining the postal infrastructure. The USPS’s excessive “work-sharing” discounts paid to build, equip and operate a private presort network, and shunted mail sorting and distribution to it. This slashes revenue and leaves USPS plants underused—without decreasing the costs USPS must pay to build, equip, and staff its own network. It costs about as much to run a half-full truck as a full one. Processing plants and equipment must be acquired, maintained and operated whether the processing runs are long or short. USPS’s network must persist if there is to be postal service. Paying private companies to do USPS’s work simply gives away the store.

Public Release of the Area Mail Processing Study Data
The USPS provides no information supporting its self-evidently false estimates of savings.

The Process Used for Public Discussion of the Area Mail Processing Study
The meeting was announced with a minimum of notice—although the meeting facilities must have been arranged well in advance. The USPS has, over several years, made a series of partial demolitions of its infrastructure: closing a few thousand post offices here, a hundred or so processing plants there. Each destruction of service is presented as a necessary response to what is in fact a manufactured crisis. When the Rockford plant was slated for closure, the USPS told us its mail would come to Madison, and that Madison, Milwaukee, and Green Bay would be the remaining plants in Wisconsin in the shattered network. Under the proposed consolidation, Madison would lose half its mail processing—and Madison and southwest Wisconsin would lose first-class service. What next? Does USPS subscribe to Pitney-Bowes’ vision of purely private mail processing and distribution? The USPS’s actions are taking us down the road to privatization at a stunning speed, quickly and quietly proceeding in the dark with its plans to destroy service—to minimize public awareness of what is being done, to withhold information relied on in reaching decisions, to conceal the facts and hide the truth—and never to reveal that decisions are made solely in the service of mass mailers, to the detriment of the American people.

Lack of Public Input
The USPS seeks to minimize public input by giving short notice, by withholding any information relied on in reaching its business case estimates—and by, in every one of the hundreds of such meetings that have happened all over the country, presenting only vague statements by officials unable or unwilling to provide substantive answers. And by blithely ignoring all public input, proceeding with service destruction in violation of law and the public trust—all to ensure that the owners of Val-Pak Coupons and similar profiteers keep pocketing billions of dollars as excess profits that should have preserved the public infrastructure.

The USPS could easily increase revenue, reduce costs, and provide better service to the American people. The Internet could be the biggest boon to the post since paper. USPS should offer a service whereby a customer e-mails a document to USPS, which then prints it at, and delivers it from, the destination postal facility. It has the impact of hard-copy communication with 1-day service everywhere—if USPS stops closing its processing-and-distribution centers. This would be a very popular service, and profitable if priced at full rates. It would avoid hauling paper across the country. Customers could sign, handwrite, draw, on a touchpad, as well as sending any document that can be sent to a printer.

The USPS leadership must preserve and improve the postal service for the American people. Not dismantle and destroy it for plunderers and profiteers.

Community Economic Impact
Residents of Madison and southwest Wisconsin are being made to suffer the loss of service, and to pay the sky-high rates charged by express mail companies when we need prompt service. USPS claims to “save” an amount less than a rounding error in its budget—yet savings, if any were to materialize, come at the expense of the people disserved.

Job Loss
USPS’s plan to put 54 Madisonians out of work, in order to destroy first-class service in Madison and southwest Wisconsin, will be a hardship for the workers, their families, for the businesses where they spend money, for the city of Madison, and for southwest Wisconsin. Contracting out transportation, rather than using local union workers, places the same financial burden on all of us. Charge your mass-mailing, discount-grubbing, profiteering customers enough to bring revenue back from $65 billion to $75 billion. Do not take the money from your employees and their communities. The hardship to the employees, families, and communities is real. The savings to USPS is illusory. The postal network must stay, and closing excessive discounts and raising rates is the only way to pay for it.

Road Impact
Hauling all southwest Wisconsin’s mail to Milwaukee and back for mail processing not only destroys service. The extra trucks needed, all converging at 3902 Milwaukee Street, Madison, all headed for 345 W. St. Paul Avenue, Milwaukee, have the potential to create traffic jams at both ends, with trucks backed up onto the highway waiting to get to and from the loading docks. This would be worse in winter or bad weather. The extra trucking would use more fuel, put more soot, poisons, and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, cause additional damage to the roads, more road construction, more road congestion, more accidents.

Loss of Postmark
The loss of the Madison postmark for the daily hundreds of thousands of mailpieces collected in Madison signifies a loss of stature of the community. It sends a message that Madison is merely a satellite of Milwaukee. Madison is the state capital and a major Wisconsin city. And no, the opportunity to stand in line at the counter at the post office to get a letter stamped does not restore it.

Hazards in the Mail
In the event of destructive, poisonous, or hazardous material in the mail, the commingling of all mail from southwest Wisconsin into Milwaukee will maximize destructive impact and impede investigation into its source.

USPS officials have made it abundantly clear in the hundreds of previous such meetings that the people’s voice is irrelevant. That local politicians have no opportunity to persuade the government’s postal service to preserve service to their constituents. That USPS officials have their minds made up going into the meeting, an entirely pro forma affair. That control of postal decision-making has been taken over by the big mailers. They are the players who stand personally to gain billions of dollars by preserving their excessive, service-breaking discounts. Theirs is the only voice USPS officials respond to. USPS’s table has seats only for them. It is essential, while there is still some shred of government-owned and –operated postal service left, that we residential customers form our own research-and-lobbying group, to expose the dark secrets USPS management wants kept hidden, and pressure the responsible public servants to be responsible public servants—rather than the irresponsible servants of plunderers and pirates.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Compassion and Hubris: The Dalai Lama Speaks to the Wisconsin Legislature

Yesterday afternoon the Dalai Lama spoke to the Wisconsin state legislature.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama speaking to the Wisconsin
State Assembly on May 14, 2013. Photo by Leslie Amsterdam.

Before His Holiness ever spoke a word, he laughed—not a nervous giggle, but an all-out "I'm so happy to be here" laugh. Such an infectious, hopeful thing—to laugh. It was disarming, and delightful. His Holiness is sometimes difficult to understand, as English is not his first language, but the language of laughter is well understood by those who listen with their hearts.

He spoke about his appreciation for democracy and the trust that the people of Wisconsin have put in their legislators, about the importance of humility and "transparency that brings trust." He spoke about how all human beings are the same, whether they are world leaders or homeless. "Mentally, emotionally, physically, we are the same. Everyone wants happiness."

While some of us were transfixed, hanging on every word either in person or via Wisconsin Eye, others were less than enthralled. A number of Wisconsin representatives appeared to be asleep or using cell phones.

Some legislators apparently sleeping and using cell phones
while the Dalai Lama is speaking. Photo by Dawn Morris-Henke.

According to one observer, "the ones who fell asleep (or at least appeared to be asleep) [were] Tranel, Marklein, Pridemore, Tittl, Hutton, Bies, Nass, Tiffany, and Knodl. It was hard to tell with some of them, but Tranel was definitely asleep. Nerison, who sits next to him, shook him awake at one point."

The sheer hubris and blatant disrespect shown here for a man revered throughout the world is breathtaking. This boorishness reflects poorly on us all. A schoolteacher with a gaggle of children listening to any public figure would not tolerate such behavior.

This—while His Holiness spoke of humility and compassion—was a disgusting display of the exact same contempt these legislators regularly show the people of Wisconsin.

According to a press release from Representative Melissa Sargent entitled "A Day of Highs and Lows in the State Assembly," on the very same afternoon Wisconsin lawmakers
  • Tore down the separation of powers between the judicial and legislative branches in an abuse of power and an assault on our democracy.
  • Attempted to destroy local control of all landlord-tenant agreements.
  • Destroyed the Milwaukee County Board.
  • Honored a leader who is best known for war and destroying the middle class of a nation.
"The bills we voted on tonight cast a dark cloud over what should have been a beautiful day for the state legislature," stated Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison).

"His holiness, the Dalai Lama spoke to a joint legislative body. He told us of his appreciation of our democracy and said 'transparency, that brings trust ... there is no room for cheating other people.' I wish that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle could have brought the citizens of Wisconsin transparency or trust in their leadership. Instead, everyone was cheated with these bills passed tonight."
And here is what Representative Chris Taylor had to say on her Facebook page about this afternoon's legislative onslaught:
200 years of an independent judiciary trashed by Repubs today. They passed a bill that a court's injunction to prevent an unconstitutional bill from going into effect can be lifted by the mere act of filing an appeal. Clearly aimed at Voter ID and Act 10. If they don't like the rules, and 200 years of separation of powers, they'll just make up some new ones!
The people of Wisconsin deserve real leadership that is compassionate and wise. Instead what we have is contemptuous hubris displaying one wanton power grab after another.

# # #
Many thanks to Leslie Amsterdam and Dawn Morris-Henke for permission to use their photos.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Plan B and the Internet Berserker: Adventures in Uncivil Discourse

Friday morning I posted this meme on the Worley Dervish Tumblr.

From the New York Times Editorial Board, May 3, 2013:
Putting Politics Ahead of Science” (not to mention decency and common sense)

That post set a guy on Tumblr off on a rampage. (I honestly don't know who he is—I "ignored" him, which is Tumblr speak for "I blocked him," so now I can't see his blog, which is all to the good.) Happily, I am not usually exposed to this kind of hateful ranting, but after my initial shock, I have to confess to feeling kind of honored. I have no idea how this guy found my blog. Maybe he was looking for a lefty feminist to rage at and just happened to pick me. Oh joy.

So I decided that I needed to answer the raging bully, at least theoretically, if for no other reason than to silence the echoes still rattling around in my head. And it just so happens that because I had trouble reading the tiny type on his blog, I'd copied the rant into a Word file so I could read it. So here goes...
Oh…you want to talk decency and common fucking sense?
Yes. And watch your language. Show a little decency.
sit your ass down.
Who do you think you're talking to? I'm not your kid. As a matter of fact, I'm really, really glad I'm not your kid. Seriously.
You want girls of any age to be able to fuck around and have access to 'safe birth control' because its their uterus and they (at any age) have the right to do whatever with their body because its their body.
No one is saying that adolescents should just go out and have as much sex as they want. One hopes that parents would teach them to respect themselves and their own bodies, and to respect others and their bodies. In the real world, however, neither very wise and loving parents, nor the possibility of getting pregnant, nor the fear of a noisy, bullying, swearing, red-in-the-face father has ever been enough to prevent some adolescents from having sex.

And watch your language. Didn't anybody ever teach you not to swear at strangers?
why the fuck do we even have parents anymore? They don't even matter anymore in this society. A girl can get pregnant at 14 (even younger!) and can just buy the morning after pill over the counter and keep on fucking because apparently they are mature enough to know what to do with the pill and do it responsibly. wow! why have parents anymore when society and government can just do it for us?
I notice your focus is entirely on girls, like the only problem with adolescent sex is girls having it. And the availability of contraceptives, emergency or otherwise, would cause them to have sex without any restraint? A little reminder: it takes two to make a baby.

I suppose that because adolescent boys can't get pregnant, it's just fine for them to "fuck around" as much as they want? I suppose too that you figure it's up to girls, and girls alone, to avoid pregnancy, and boys are just too weak-willed to control their adolescent urges?

Quick access to emergency contraceptives can prevent pregnancy. It could easily take a girl weeks to work up the courage to talk to her parents about having been raped. Or about having had sex. Do you really want that girl to get pregnant just because in the few hours afterward she couldn't bear to talk to her parents about it?
No, fuck you people.
Charming. Watch your language.
How about YOU stay the fuck out of other people's daughters vaginas because as long as she is under MY roof, she is MY responsibility, NOT yours. Good parenting is raising your child right and that includes protecting them from the hot-sex society you dumbfucks are creating because you fail as parents yourselves and simply give in to them. Kids need rules and strict guidelines to live by and loving parents who show them right from wrong and actually fucking discipline them when they get outta line.
I think you're confused. It's you who are trying to control what other people's daughters have access to. And of course your daughter is your responsibility. Poor thing. But just because you don't want your daughter to have access to something she may desperately need doesn't mean that you should be able to prevent my daughter from having access to what she may desperately need.

Giving adolescents access to emergency contraception does not mean that your daughter has to take it, any more than it means that she has to have sex. You don't want her to use contraceptives? Fine. Then lay down those good rules and strict guidelines you're so fond of. That ought to do it, don't you think? It sounds, though, like you'd like the government to do it for you, to deny her access, because your rules aren't really as effective as you like to think. Are they?

According to you, if you raised your daughter right, your daughter won't need emergency contraceptives. If they're available to others, so what? What does that even have to do with you and your daughter? What happens between you and your daughter is your own business—God help her.

And watch your language.
This…'let them have sex because we can't stop them so lets promote safe sex and birth control at any age'…is fucking retarded. You are telling immature kids that its OK to have sex as long as you are safe about it but if you are not safe about it, theres Plan B which we want available to girls of all fucking ages.
This "make them have babies because we don't want them to have sex" thing is what makes no sense. Even kids with the best, most conscientious, most loving parents sometimes have sex.

Or are sometimes raped.

And here's a little nugget for you. Listen closely, because I'm sure it's news to you. Even really, really good girls sometimes get raped. That's right. Really, really good girls. That is to say, all girls who are raped are really, really good girls. All girls are good and supremely worthy of love and respect. No girl ever wants to be raped. Or asks for it. Or deserves it. And no girl is responsible for being raped. That's what it means to be raped. It means that your person has been horribly violated. When that happens to an adolescent girl, she should have access to whatever help there is in the universe, including over-the-counter emergency contraceptives. No girl who has been raped should ever be forced to become pregnant as a result of that rape.

Quit focusing exclusively on girls' behavior and start teaching boys to respect girls and not to rape them. Teach girls that they and other girls are worthy of respect and don't ever, ever deserve to be raped.

And watch your language.
As a parent, you people make me fucking sick. stay the fuck out of my kids uteruses.
It's rape and the rape culture we live in that make me sick. It's shaming girls who have been raped and then forcing them to bear children they're not ready for that makes me sick. It's foul-mouthed, bullying misogynists that make me sick.

Now go wash your mouth out with soap and think for a while about your deplorable behavior. What kind of example are you setting for your kids?