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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Religious liberty vs. working on Sunday to deliver Amazon packages

The letter by the Corvallis mailman, David Schaefer, "Amazon deal increases load on carriers," Jan. 16, 2017, p. A6, and a reply criticizing his letter by Padric Fisher, "Carrier does not speak for all," posted online as "Letter: Carrier's comment not representative," Gazette-Times, Jan. 27, 2017, p. A6 prompted my following letter to the editor:

I appreciated the Jan. 16 letter from a brave Corvallis mailman, which was criticized in a Jan. 25 reply by the "officer in charge at the Corvallis Post Office," because he explained why my Amazon orders were arriving on Sundays, despite not asking for this service.

However, I was surprised that a U.S. Post Officer did not confirm what Amazon told its shareholders, which is that Amazon's delivery contract will save the jobs of postal workers from being eliminated due to the decline in mail deliveries caused by email and paperless billing.

As a satisfied customer, I believe the Officer correctly praised "the majority of postal employees, who dedicate themselves to provide outstanding customer service at all times," but I hope he has also acknowledged the legitimate concerns of his mailmen.

For example, when I was a child, religious liberty laws forbid working on Sundays, except for newspaper men and emergency workers, but these "Sunday closing laws" were repealed after businesses lobbied State legislators because labor unions had won a 40-hour, 5-day work week in the private sector.

(Quoted from Thomas Kremer, "Sunday delivery and carriers," Gazette-Times, Feb. 16, 2017, p.A6 posted Feb. 10, 2017)

The business reason Amazon told shareholders was to explain how their business contract with the U.S. Post Office is beneficial to both sides -- good contracts works best when both sides have an interest in it. Amazon's contract lowers warehousing and supply chain costs by delivering it faster, plus fast delivery will lead to happier customers and more sales in the long run. The Post Office benefits by it helping to finance their decision to buy new delivery trucks, which are similar to what Fed Ex uses, so that they can shift away from delivering mostly first-class letters to delivering mostly packages due to the to rapidly growing internet commerce.

When I was a child, I recall the postman, who delivered mail to my childhood home, worked six days per week, and in high school I was taught how the Federal labor laws were based on a six-day work week, Monday thru Saturday, because a 6-day work week was standard before labor unions won the five-day work-week. I don't know how accurate my memory is and I have not researched the history of the labor movement, but I experienced firsthand Sunday Closing laws when I had to work around them, for example, making sure that I had filled up my car with gas on Saturday because no gas station would be open on Sunday, even at major freeway truck stops, when I was travelling long distances.

The term "religious liberty" is the new slogan for the anti-gay Christian Republicans and religious right in America, who are using it in their campaign for the right to discriminate against gay people based on their Christian religious beliefs. I bet few people realize how similar political campaigns were used decades ago to get the "Sunday closing laws" passed that I mentioned in my letter. Likewise, the Religious Right is still upset today over losing the mandatory Christian school prayer, which they like to blame the atheist activism of Madalyn Murry O'Hair as being the cause behind it. (See the article School prayer accessed Feb. 15, 2017)

I now understand how societal norms shift over a century due to the fact that people take for granted their hard won freedoms and gains in equality, but then forget how it was in the past after a couple of generations. After people forget, a businessman or theocratic politician can easily take away these hard won rights by creating resentment in people and pitting one group against the other by pointing out the "special rights" certain groups are getting.

As a result, the conventional wisdom of most social justice activists is that these gains in equality and rights must never be forgotten by future generations and in order to ensure this they will set up institutions and processes to continuously teach children about it, which is why the Religious Right wants to weaken public schools by draining taxpayer dollars from them to fund their "school choice" programs for religious schools where they can teach how it is a sin to treat women and gays equally.