Neighbor to Neighbor: USPS needs support to bolster mail system

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When you are waiting for an important letter or package, it seems as if it may never come, doesn’t it? Well, folks, that may just be what will happen if enough of us don’t convince our elected officials that the United States Postal Service is vital — and is in desperate need of help.

Even before the devastating blow of Sept. 11, trouble, in any challenging forms, raised fears in the hearts of those who saw competition coming from every angle. Growth of the computer industry eliminated a great deal of surface mail. Besides telephone and fax communications company-to-company, computers provided almost instant exchange. Although the United States Postal Service used every possible technological advance to improve services, such changes have been expensive and could not reclaim that previous, major source of income.

Those trying to encourage computer use vs. surface mail scoffed at those opting to stay with their trustworthy USPS friends and gave that service the derogatory name, “snail mail.” Did they forget, or did they deliberately fail to warn that all too often computers have made it easy for those with criminal intent to steal even your most highly prized secrets, including theft of your identity and personal funds.

Hackers also can trick your computer into wiping out its programs and causing untold damage to its equipment. Every dream scheme can turn into a nightmare!

No one is suggesting we turn back the clocks to the days of the Pony Express or mail delivery by stagecoach. Computer technology is, no doubt, here to stay, but be selective in its use. Guard your privacy by putting your mail in a sealed envelope and let the USPS take care of it from there.

The USPS is undergoing a customer-focused strategy, the Transformation Plan, which is a blueprint to improve operations and finances. Postal reform is a hot issue with Congress.

If you are at all like me, you want to have a say about changes that are going to impact your life and the lives of others. Postmaster General Potter has announced that USPS faces a projected net loss of $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2002, with mail volume expected to drop some six billion pieces below last year. Controlling costs is a matter of utmost concern.

Measures that are being taken to minimize financial loss include reducing employees by 20,000 through attrition and postponing program expenditures, resulting in more than $2 billion in reduced expenses. The USPS does not regulate postal rates; they are regulated by the Postal Rate Commission. On May 28, the Postal Rate Commission and the USPS will hold a jointly sponsored summit that will focus on how the process and approach for establishing and changing postal rates can be improved.

The Postal Service delivered its Transformation Plan to Congress and the Government Accounting Office on April 4. It is a detailed document outlining strategies that would preserve universal mail delivery and strengthen the mail system. If Congress should decide that the Postal Service must be privatized, the proposed private entity will, no doubt, eliminate delivery to those living and/or working in obscure places, such as at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The expense would be too great.

The Transformation Plan suggests transforming the Postal Service into a commercial government enterprise, that would allow greater operational and financial flexibility. That is the plan I hope will be put into place. I also hope everyone will be willing to write letters to elected officials, especially Sens. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton.

We also can help by not wasting the supplies that are provided for us, free, by USPS and by not messing up the Post Office by littering there. I’m sure every postal employee wants to maximize usefulness by serving customers in a pleasant, professional manner. They must be under a great deal of pressure. Your constructive suggestions, patience and a smile would help a lot.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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