News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 20, 2014

LIZ CIANCONE: How can we stop the flow of unwanted postal mail?

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — I eagerly await a sign-up for something similar to the do-not-call list. I want a “do-not-mail” list.

There are a few holes in the do-not-call arrangement, but I’m willing to settle for a few unfiltered calls and would be dancing in the street strewing rose petals if only I could stem the flood of unwanted mail.

I brought in the day’s offering from the mailbox on the same day I went out to buy “forever” stamps. (Please note that those stamps are “forever” at the current price. It means that they are legal the next time you need a stamp, even if it is a couple of years in the future.) Most of the mail on that day, as it is on most days, consisted of appeals for money. We did get a copy of a magazine to which we have subscribed for years, so at least I had something to read. It didn’t all end in the recycle bin.

What remains an annoyance to me is that I have to pay an awful lot more than the non-profit groups for the privilege of sending a letter through the mail — sometimes twice or three times more. One of that day’s appeals was mailed for 8 cents while the other two did not want to reveal what their postage cost them. Their “stamp” simply noted that it was a not-for-profit agency. I’ll bet it costs the Post Service as much to deliver these as it does magazines and mail I actually want to receive.

There are dozens of worthy causes. I prefer to support the local ones, but most of those I receive seem to have enough operating capital to pay thousands of dollars to administrators who supervise, I suppose, the folks who bundle up the appeal, lick the envelope and ship it off to mailboxes like mine. I figure they might as well save the small change and call it my contribution.

Some send little gifts. Not long ago, I received an acrylic throw to keep my knees warm when I sit. It was regifted to Goodwill to warm other knees during the recent cold snap. I really do feel guilty about using gifts I don’t pay for, so I pass it on. I cannot pass along the return address labels and right now I have enough of those to wallpaper the living room.

It’s not the mailman’s fault. Congress wants the Post Service run like a business, then it has tied the hands of that office by requiring it to do things not demanded of other businesses. For example, they want the Post Service to pre-fund its retirement plan. No other business is asked to do this, but the Post Service has not been offered a bailout to match that given other businesses and that is a service of benefit to me, and others, who still like to write and receive letters.

Someone put me down for a “do-not-mail” list. Please.



Liz Ciancone is a retired

Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to opinion@tribstar.com.