A well-run post office is an essential feature of any successful country, which is why it’s so ridiculous that the United States Postal Service has basically been marched to its death by our own government. John Oliver looks at the existential troubles afflicting the USPS, both those related to the ongoing pandemic and the older, deeper issues forced upon it by Congress, in the latest episode of Last Week Tonight—and, yes, he somehow makes it really damn funny.
The video below doesn’t just explain why the USPS got into this pickle. Hint: it’s not because email and texting has killed the need for stamps. It’s because in 2006 Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which simultaneously forces the USPS to fund its retiree’s benefits for a full 50 years in advance (requiring billions of dollars in payments a year), while also limited its ability to make money. The law took a profitable company and almost immediately drove it into the ground, and Oliver cites a study that found that 74% of the USPS’s net losses since 2006 were directly caused by the retirement benefit issue.
As much of a bummer as that is, at least Oliver makes sure to share a 1989 commercial trying to get cool 1989 kids into stamp-collecting that’s the most 1989 thing you’ll see today (complete with awesome original rap song). And his team finds TV interviews with postal workers that offer both stark insight into how much trouble the service is in but that are also funny. It’s what Oliver and his show does so well: break down a problematic issue or situation in a way that’s hilarious while still impressing how serious and important it is. It’s what makes him and his show the best of the Daily Show offshoots, and worth watching every Sunday night.
Check it out below. If you’re like us, it’ll probably send you straight to eBay to find those sweet lacemaking stamps.