See more of the story

People are buying less of everything — including stamps and mailed packages. The U.S. Postal Service is funded by the postage we buy but is endangered by depressed demand because of the pandemic, as well as the unique requirement that it pre-fund retiree health benefits (“Virus a dire threat to Postal Service,” April 10). It enjoys the highest favorability ratings of any government institution and is essential for so many. We cannot let it die.

The USPS is the only institution that delivers mail to every address, not just the profitable ones. I live in a major city but have roots in rural areas, and I’m worried for my family in the boonies. My great-aunt lives 20 miles into the foothills of the Cascades in Washington state. She’s an excellent seamstress and runs an Etsy shop — orders for her cloth face masks are through the roof. Yet every single private, for-profit delivery service dumps its packages onto the USPS’ last-mile service for my great-aunt’s address. Life-sustaining medications and her mail-in ballot could leap out of her price range if the USPS is shuttered. Private shipping costs would close her business, but not ones pinging goods around urban areas.

In the delivery industry, distance between addresses destroys profit. Yet people matter the same, no matter the population density around them. The U.S. Postal Service acts on the great American ideal of equality. Please join me in calling on your federal representatives to ensure it’s funded for generations to come.

Lindsay Turner, Minneapolis

• • •

I am deeply troubled that President Donald Trump threatened to veto the vital Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act if there was any support for the Postal Service.

I’m disheartened that Trump would use this crisis to kill an institution, defined by the U.S. Constitution and led by Ben Franklin himself. My father was a mailman. He started as a substitute letter sorter, then full time, then he carried letters in Rapid City, S.D., for many years. He knew every road in that town and area and walked most of them. He was bitten by dogs, blistered by sun, wind and cold, and walked miles a day to make sure everyone got their mail. Through wind, snow and dark of night isn’t just a slogan, it’s a reality.

Like all of our essential workers, those in the Postal Service are on the front lines of this crisis, too — with hundreds getting sick because they are willing to do their jobs. For-profit carriers can pick and choose what mail they’ll carry, what locations are profitable and whose houses are just too far away, while the USPS gets handed financial burdens, gets the least profitable work, and then loses support.

This is not the time to cut the essential services that all Americans rely on. Let your representatives know that the postal service is essential — just as it has been in the United States of America since 1775. Before we had a Declaration of Independence or a Constitution, we had a postal service. Washington thought it was important — George Washington. Our current leaders in Washington, D.C., should remember that.

Aaron Dimock, North Mankato, Minn.

FOOD SUPPLY

The cracks have been there all along

It seems every day COVID-19 is exposing the cracks in our highly concentrated food system. The latest example struck home for me as a southwestern Minnesota farmer when one of the nation’s largest pork plants shut down as a result of the virus (“Plant closures have yet to affect meat supply,” April 14). When that Smithfield plant was owned by John Morrell & Company, I sold hogs there for over 30 years. As the meat industry has become consolidated to an unimaginable scale (four firms control 66% of pork slaughter, according to the University of Missouri), companies like Smithfield have gained unprecedented power.

They’ve wielded that power at the expense of family farmers, workers and communities. They stopped buying from farmers like me and successfully lobbied the government to allow them to increase line speeds to “profitable” levels in their “elbow to elbow” production systems. They don’t respect workers’ needs for sick and safe time, creating dangerous situations for everyone.

Refusal of the Department of Justice and Congress to act has created situations where a single meat or dairy processor can be the only game in town for hundreds of miles. When that plant shuts down, either temporarily or permanently, the negative repercussions start in rural communities and extend to your local grocery store.

When we don’t take care of workers, we all pay the price: Workers are sickened, farmers are put out of business, communities suffer and the food supply is at risk. The way we pull through this pandemic and economic crisis is together, or not at all.

Paul Sobocinski, Wabasso, Minn.

TRUMP’S AUTHORITY

What he does control, he flubbed

Wednesday’s letter asking “Is Trump in charge, or isn’t he?” missed the mark when it claimed critics of the president are blaming him for not “closing the economy” sooner. No, we are blaming him for running a massive propaganda campaign starring in January and continuing until he declared a national emergency in mid-March, telling us there was nothing to worry about and that it would all disappear.

I don’t blame President Donald Trump for the coronavirus pandemic, but he was always in control of his reaction to it, and he blew it big time. If he had shown true leadership, he would have informed the public in a factual manner, taken steps to replenish the national stockpile with personal protective equipment and necessary medical equipment, used the Defense Production Act to streamline the supply chains for needed equipment, and worked with his own health and emergency staffs and the nation’s governors to establish a coordinated plan with allowance for regional differences.

Instead he has swung between telling the governors they are on their own to claiming total power to “open the country,” and between not being the nation’s “shipping clerk” to interfering in state’s orders for direly needed supplies, the president has shown throughout he is not up to the task. He is a danger to our nation and society as a whole.

Dan Nassif, Minneapolis

RELIEF CHECKS

I know where to spend mine

Even though his action now will cause a delay in mailings, President Donald Trump has ordered the Treasury Department to add his signature to all stimulus checks being mailed this spring and summer (“Relief checks stalled over signature order,” front page, April 15). To my good financial fortune, I have not received a tax refund in years, so my check will come just in time to endorse it over to the “Joe Biden for President” election campaign.

Roger Kiemele, Minneapolis

We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.