News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

November 18, 2012

FLASHPOINT: Post offices could be restored and made financially viable

This letter is to tell you about our campaign to keep the post office in its current form. We believe it is possible for the postal service to continue doing business the way it always has with very little change in structure. “Save Our Post Office” is a loosely knit social movement of concerned citizens who believe the post office can be financially stable the way it is.

We believe one of the main reasons the Postal Service has financial problems is due to HR 6407, a congressional bill passed during the lame-duck session of Congress in 2006. It was passed by a voice vote of “yea” or “nay” so it is difficult to even determine who actually voted for the bill.

The basic premise of HR 6407 is the U.S. Postal Service must pay $5.5 billion dollars a year for a period of 10 years. This is a prepayment into retirement accounts to pay for the next 75 years. This is a burden no other business or government agency has to endure. In fact, it has been estimated in recent years the postal service would have made $750 million in profits. It is our goal to see HR 6407 repealed.

Ultimately what we would like to see is the continued delivery of mail six days a week. The Postal Service is the only delivery company which delivers on Saturday. In fact, UPS and FedEx use the postal service for last-mile delivery in many situations. Thus eliminating six-day delivery would also hurt our competitors.

Another area we want to see the post office continue service is to continue to maintain their highly structured mail-processing plants. The mailing industry is a $1 trillion industry that employs over 8 million people. This represents 9 percent of the gross national product. In fact, it even touches the newspaper industry, which relies on a quality mail processing network to those who subscribe by mail.

In the next few months to the next two years, the post office wants to close approximately 250 mail-processing plants. This would be like closing 250 small factories at the same time. How can this be a good thing for an economy that is already struggling? And what if our economy actually recovers at some point? The post office would be at a serious shortfall in their capacity to process the increased mail volume.

The postal service wants to cut retail hours in smaller post offices and rural areas. In fact, they want to close 3,500 post offices in rural areas. This is a travesty. The post office is required by law to provide universal mail service, meaning they must provide some means to get mail to every citizen of the entire country. How can they do this if they close such a great number of post offices?

Those who suffer the most will be the elderly, who are less Internet savvy. They are the people most likely to read newspapers. So this is another setback for the newspaper industry. It will be more difficult for newspapers to get their product to their customers in a timely manner due to processing plants closing. Also, it will be more difficult for newspapers to get their product to their customers because their means of delivery has been complicated. Life defies all logic. However, one would think the newspaper industry and readers of newspapers would want the same things we do on this issue.

It is the responsibility of Congress to be a good steward of our postal service. Yet they chose to pass a bill to hamstring the post office and didn’t even have the decency to associate their names to the vote. Remember, it was a voice vote.

The conservative position in this case is not to privatize the post office. The Constitution of the United States of America states, and I quote: Article 1, Section 8, clause 7 — Congress shall have the power to establish “post offices and post roads.” Basically, other than the IRS the Postal Service is one of the few government or quasi-government agencies that brings in revenue. The U.S. Postal Service is a $63 billion industry that you as an American citizen own and Congress is simply the steward of maintaining it. Hold the new Congress accountable for how they handle your mail service.

To learn more about our cause and how you can help, visit www.saveourpostoffice.us and on Facebook.

— Jerry Stidman

American Postal Workers Union

Terre Haute

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