Democratic candidate for the party’s presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders, got some attention last week when he said on the campaign trail that the U.S. Postal Service should add basic financial services normally reserved for traditional banks to the mail-related services it’s provided for ages.

Democratic candidate for the party’s presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders, got some attention last week when he said on the campaign trail that the U.S. Postal Service should add basic financial services normally reserved for traditional banks to the mail-related services it’s provided for ages.
    But this isn’t a new idea. The U.S. Senator from Vermont first pushed the idea two years ago, and last October, in typical Sanders fashion, he made his point bluntly in an interview with Fusion:
    “If you are a low-income person, it is, depending upon where you live, very difficult to find normal banking. Banks don’t want you. And what people are forced to do is go to payday lenders who charge outrageously high interest rates. You go to check-cashing places, which rip you off. And, yes, I think that the postal service, in fact, can play an important role in providing modest types of banking service to folks who need it."
    It’s not just Sanders making the case. This isn’t just one of countless things spouted on the campaign trail by a candidate willing to say anything in order to please anyone. A study by those who oversee the U.S. Postal service, in findings reported last spring, made a strong case for the USPS to add basic financial services. The notoriously cash-strapped USPS could boost its bottom line by more than $1 billion a year, the study found, and who can argue that that’s a bad thing?
    Certainly, people will find a way to do just that. They’ll say that the USPS is the poster child for a government agency dinosaur that can’t keep up with the times and needs go away. They’ll say that government-sponsored banking at your local post office steals business from the job creators at your privately-owned local bank. They’ll call it socialism, just the latest example of the government’s power-grab.
    Well, two things: One, the U.S. Postal Service is not going to go away, so we might as well make it as relevant, vital and financially stable as we can. And, two, any notion that the government and the so-called private banking industry aren’t in bed together was blown out of the water before, during, and after the “too-big-to-fail” blanks tried to vaporize the U.S. and world economy a few short years ago. Let it be mentioned again: Not a single person has spent a single day in jail for those crimes, and the sole reason for that is the cozy relationship between Big Banking and your U.S. Government.
    And let us not forget Sanders’ claim that your basic, traditional bank probably doesn’t want to deal with low-income customers, anyway. So they end up at the mercy of pay-day lenders, which isn’t good for anyone except the pay-day lenders.
    In many communities, the local U.S. Post Office, despite many rounds of closures in recent years, is still part of the fabric of the town. If this idea to add financial services strengthens that fabric while at the same time serving an under-served population, then that’s a win-win scenario.