Of all things, the freaking postal service should not be a partisan fight

Is anyone else tired of every single issue in the United States being manipulated and molded into a partisan football?

I've long agreed with George Washington's assessment that partisan fighting was our republic's "worst enemy," but I didn't anticipate that it would ever get this ridiculous. It's virtually impossible to voice an opinion on any subject without being placed into one of two distinct categories—left/liberal/Democrat or right/conservative/Republican—by hoards of people. It happens constantly on articles I write, though I've never once declared any allegiance to (or even preference for) a political party, I have voted for candidates from different parties for different positions, and I openly reject all narratives that force people into ideological boxes.

But I guarantee, because I am speaking in defense of the USPS in this piece, people in the comments are going to accuse me of being a "shill" for the Democratic party or being paid to push a "leftist agenda." This is what we've come to. Supporting the freaking post office—a long-standing institution universally beloved and relied upon by people of all political persuasions—is now a hotly debated partisan political stance.

No. I refuse to accept it.


We all know that the USPS has struggled with budget shortfalls, in part to a pension prefunding requirement from Congress, and that there is ongoing internal debate over how it should be run. The nature of the USPS is odd in that it isn't a business in the way we think of business, but rather an independent branch of the government—but one that isn't funded by the taxpayers. It's all a bit confusing and weird in the way it functions, but the bottom line—especially at the moment—is that it's a vital service for millions of Americans. In fact, the Postal Reorganization Act passed in 1971 states it plainly: "The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States."

The USPS was designed to be a non-partisan, non-profit public service provided by the government, though it isn't funded by the government. If it's struggling, why are we not bending over backwards to bail it out? Especially during a pandemic and an election year, when it's arguably more vital than ever?

Using taxpayer money, the U.S. has bailed out for-profit banks and we've bailed out for-profit car companies. Why have we done that? Because banks hold people's money—kind of important—and car companies employ a lot of people—also kind of important. Banks and car companies are big corporations that people tend to hate on principle, but we've bailed them out because so many of us rely on them.

In light of that fact, why not bail out the one service that 91% of Americans actually approve of? We live in a country where a huge portion of people hate the government in general, and yet the USPS is ranked as people's favorite government agency. And people literally rely on it for all kinds of things, not the least of which is medications.

NBC White House correspondent Geoff Bennett compiled a list of veterans he's heard from who are struggling with the massive slow down in USPS delivery.




So veterans and seniors and people who are disabled are being actively hurt by the slow-but-not-really-that-slow destruction of the USPS. Sure, there are reforms that need to take place in the running of the postal service to make it financially stable. But literally everything is turned upside down right now. This is not the time to make sweeping changes or cut overtime or dismantle sorting machines or remove mailboxes. How are any people okay with this?

It's not like there's nothing to be done. Again, we've bailed out far more problematic entities than the freaking post office. And the government is supposed to do the bidding of the people—that's literally the foundation of our republic. If 9 out of 10 of us approve of a service that nearly 100% of Americans use, there should be no question or debate about doing whatever it takes to keep it up and running. People need to be able to mail in absentee ballots during the pandemic and ensure they arrive on time.

The USPS handles all manner of private, secure documents, such as our drivers licenses, passports, credit cards, checks, etc. handles. It also moves 15 billion pieces of mail from Thanksgiving to New Year's in order to get people's holiday cards and present to them in a timely manner. All of a sudden now, in an election year, in a pandemic, we're going to act like they couldn't handle the entire election safely and securely?

Congress, please just do whatever needs to be done. You have my blessing to throw as many tax dollars at the USPS as is necessary to make sure this vital service operates at full capacity through the election. Voting by mail doesn't favor either party—everyone has the same opportunity to vote—so there's no reason for this to be a partisan fight. I live in a state that's had universal mail-in voting for more than a decade. We have a Republican Secretary of State (the position that runs the elections). We are ranked #2 in the nation for electoral integrity. There's nothing partisan or fraudulent about mail-in voting.

Ensuring that voters can safely vote so that we can have a functioning republic is something every American should be fighting for—and right now, that means fighting for the postal service.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

Keep Reading Show less
Pets

Ginger the dog reunited with family 5 years after being stolen

Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

Keep Reading Show less

"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

Keep Reading Show less