By G. Michael Dobbs
I like the Post Office. Perhaps it's because I am a member of a generation that relied on the Postal Service for much of my life to do a valuable job.
Of course, stating, "I like the Post Office" in this day and age, is a radical statement.
But, of course, I'm one of those awful liberals who actually believe the federal government and its offices and programs are not always the enemy of the American people, as some of my more conservative friends believe.
The Postal Service does generally a solid job in my opinion of transporting items from one place to another. Now, can they make a mistake? Sure. Are some of their clerks less than helpful? It's possible. It is an institution run by human beings.
The announcement the Postal Service would be cutting Saturday deliveries is upsetting to me. While I understand that first class mail has decreased dramatically thanks to digital transmission, a substantial part of the reason for the cutback in deliveries is the mandate placed on the Post Service by Congress that it must spend more than $5 billion a year paying the health benefits for retirees 75 years in the future.
Apparently ending Saturday delivery is a popular solution. According to a New York Times poll, seven out of 10 Americans accept it. Also, according to the New York Times, the Obama Administration favors it as well. I don't.
It's an easy fix to a tough problem. I believe what we need is a restructuring of the Postal Service and not a diminishing of services.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has launched an effort to do just that and is working on a repeal of the forward paying of retiree benefits. In an essay on Politico.com, Sanders wrote, "In the long term, our plan would maintain delivery standards for first-class mail and preserve Saturday deliveries. If we don't do that, if mail delivery becomes inconvenient and slow, many of its most loyal customers – from home delivery medication companies to newspaper publishers – will turn to private-mailing options."
I would hate to see an institution created at the very birth of the Republic made obsolete not because of the pressures of the marketplace but because of artificial restraints placed on it for political reasons. Now why would any member of Congress want to weaken the Postal Service? Is it because it has one of the largest union workforces in the country? Is it because there are private businesses eager to get a larger piece of the mail delivery pie?
Sanders added, "Current law prohibits the Postal Service from engaging in new non-postal business opportunities. Why? Why can't post offices offer copying or notary services? Why can't they wrap holiday packages? Wouldn't it make sense to sell hunting and fishing licenses at post offices? Why not cash government checks?"
These options need to be explored.
When the time comes, I'm not going to endorse any casino project. As a matter of policy I don't make endorsements, but I will say that the voters of Springfield deserve to have both plans on the ballot.
The idea that Mayor Domenic Sarno and his team go through the process of crafting a host agreement with both casino developers and then putting only one before the voters is offensive and lacks the promised transparency this process is supposed to have.
I hope the mayor will not take that route.
We were the only print source for this news in our previous Springfield edition. Our friends at the daily seemed to ignore this point, which I thought was important.
I thought a recent story The Republican published reported the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) would be investigating MGM Resorts International's business dealings with an alleged Chinese organized crime figure was spun in an interesting manner. Only deep in the story did the reader learn the MGC would be investigating all of the casino developers' backgrounds, not just MGM.
Of course, every time someone reads a story about the casino development in Western Massachusetts in The Republican one has to remember that the company has a huge interest in Penn National Gaming coming out the winner.
No one at this newspaper has an interest in the outcome of this economic development contest, unlike our esteemed colleagues.
Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.