Postal Reform Anyone?

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Several months ago, I said reform of the U.S. Postal Service never would get through Congress during an election year. Then, the House Government Reform Committee and Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs passed separate versions of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2004. Suddenly, it looked like lawmakers actually cared about passing reform for the first time in three decades, and mailers started getting excited.

Silly us. Something must have been in the water. It's an election year, remember? Congress is now adjourned until Sept. 7, and the legislative session is scheduled to end Oct. 1, though that could always be extended a few days. Heck, give 'em another month, they still won't pass anything this complicated and controversial just days before a national election.

Want to prove me wrong? Then do as the Direct Marketing Association requested last week in its action alert urging members to write letters to their respective lawmakers using its political action Web site. You just have to type in your ZIP code and up pops your respective representatives, and then you personalize the letter that's already written. It takes no effort. (I sent mine in less than two minutes.)

To contact your senators, go to:

and enter your ZIP code for a sample letter.

To write your representative, go to:

and, again, enter your ZIP code.

Only if enough voices are heard will Congress get off its collective butt and do something. It's probably too late for this year, but it's worth a try.

So, why isn't reform going anywhere in the Senate? Politics. Budget Committee chairman Don Nickles, R-OK, is unhappy with Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, for failing to support his effort to have a budget that includes tax cuts approved. Therefore, Nickles is holding her reform bill hostage.

Besides postal reform, I want to say something else regarding our postal buddies. What exactly are they trying to do by wanting to charge for mail using sticky notes? Their reason: It boosts response rates. In testimony to the Postal Rate Commission, the USPS admitted "the addition of [repositionable notes] to flats appeared to cause no additional processing or handling costs." So far, the feature has been free, but now they want to expand the use to other mail categories - and are eyeing a way to bring in more money. I know the USPS is in trouble, but this is not the way to run a business. Well, actually, it is the way to run a business, but that's not the postal service's function. Or is it?


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