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The post’s progressive supporters . . . want to retrofit the meaning of ‘postal service’ and . . . provide Americans with broadband access and a secure electronic ‘home base’ that would unify their scattered online lives, link their digital and physical addresses, and provide hack-proof services such as an electronic mailbox, a lockbox for important private data. . . The nation’s growing problem of financial inequality could provide the post with an opportunity to run a . . . ‘nonbank bank’ -- the awkward term for an institution that doesn’t handle both loans and deposits. Customers would receive a postal card that they could use for purchasing, withdrawing from an ATM, depositing and cashing checks, paying bills, and making international money transfers. . . . Its huge workforce, which moves house-by-house through America’s neighborhoods nearly every day, could provide more services, such as checking on the elderly and inform and contributing to ‘big data’ on air pollution, traffic patterns, and other public concerns. Better use could be made of the nation’s nearly 32,000 post offices by allowing them to handle state and local matters. . . . The local Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts could even move into the post office, space permitting. This type of public-private collaboration could attract more customers for both enterprises; save on new construction; and preserve architectural landmarks . . .You can guess which of the three options I’d vote for, just as you guess which is the least likeliest to come to pass in our conservative times of capitalism deluxe. Winifred Gallagher’s book, like the post office she envisions, “delivers” on numerous fronts as a popular history, full of surprises and insights. Lawrence Bush edits Jewish Currents.
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.