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Postal Service deserves to re-invent itself

April 30, 2012
By G. Michael Dobbs
news@thereminder.com
As the Senate has approved legislation that would allow the U.S. Postal Service to do such things as eliminate Saturday delivery and close post offices, I was struck that the stories I read about the action emphasized the fact the Postal Service had a huge deficit due to a decrease of traditional mail.
For some reason, the point the Postal Service — an independent government agency that hasn't had a line item in the federal budget since the 1980s — is having to fulfill a Congressional mandate that it fund its pension plan for 75 years in the future did not receive much ink.
It's interesting to consider how much that requirement increased the deficit and the emergency the Postal Service was facing.
Last September, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told the Senate, "The Postal Service is in a crisis today because it operates within a restrictive business model and has limited flexibility to respond to a changing marketplace. We need the ability to operate more as a business does. This applies to the way we provide products and services, allocate resources, configure our retail, delivery and mail processing networks and manage our workforce."
The $5.5 billion payment to pre-fund the retiree health plan was one of those restrictions.
That fact would cloud an otherwise perfect, easy-to-digest story: antiquated government agency is struggling to make ends meet in a digital age.
We like easy-to-swallow stories. We like our factoids pre-chewed and ready to digest.
Could the Postal Service have done a better job adjusting to the email age? Yes. Are there cuts that should be made? Yes. Did we really need Congress putting its thumb into it? I'll let you answer that one for yourself.
People like to draw out the founding fathers of this country like a knife during political arguments. For instance, I've witnessed the words of Thomas Jefferson used to justify points of view from both the right and left wings of thought.
And the only document more than the Constitution that has stretched to fit the prejudices of a reader is the Bible.
And yet would the founding fathers approve of what is being done to the U.S. Postal Service? The very same Postal Service that was authorized by the Constitution?
So, wouldn't Americans of all political stripes, those who hold the Constitution dear, rally around the efforts to allow the Postal Service to address the changes in information technology and bring itself up to date?
Nah. I doubt it.
If Benjamin Franklin were alive and kicking today, he would jack-slap every mother's child who voted for this pension measure that threatened the Postal Service's existence.
***

Three cheers and a wink and nod for the region's newest media star, "Dr. Westchesterson," the man behind the best viral video yet to come out of Western Massachusetts. It's far more appealing than the four drunken girls fighting in the middle of Worthington Street.
At least this one has a beat you can dance to.
Go on Youtube and type in "413" in the search engine.
What I like about the video is that it points out local landmarks and businesses that add a lot of value to the region.
Of course, I'm prejudiced. I actually like living here. I made a decision to stay living here. And to a certain extent, nearly all of the places mentioned by the good "doctor" play a factor in my own commitment to this area.
Check it out if you've not done so already.
Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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