Will Postal Reform Really Happen?

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Despite the presidential election and other distractions, the House and Senate introduced legislation to reform the U.S. Postal Service this month. More astonishing, the House Government Reform Committee unanimously approved the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2004, and it's expected to be taken up by the full House in June. That's the furthest any reform bill has gotten in 30 years. Lawmakers now say support is growing on Capitol Hill to get something passed.

Maybe it was those Mailing Industry CEO Council-sponsored ads lining Washington's subway walls highlighting the number of people involved in the mailing industry. Or the Envelope Manufacturers Association's study breaking down how many mail-related jobs are in each lawmaker's district. Or the endless lobbying by all the associations and big businesses in the industry. Whatever it was, someone finally is listening.

At first glance, the House and Senate bills seem similar enough. It's funny that both agree the Treasury Department should pay $27 billion in pension benefits related to the military service of postal retirees, while the White House strongly opposes it. (After all, it is an election year.) It's odd that no other federal agency is required to make this payment, but President Bush wants the postal service to.

Still, two months ago, I said postal reform never would pass during an election year. Now, I'm not so sure.

Grid Girl and Wonder Wordman to the Rescue

Like many of you, I get countless marketing newsletters, bulletins and magazines. While I glance through a few of them, most end up in the trash. A few pique my interest enough to save, and a rare one or two will cause me to chuckle. Then I ran across copywriter Mark Hallen's "Have Some Fun With It" newsletter. His latest issue introduces the Legion of Direct Marketing Superheroes. Being a Legion of Super-Heroes fan from the '70s, Mark had me hooked. Among the members: Wonder Wordman, who was hit on the head with a dictionary and now knows every word in the English language; Merge Man and his sidekick, Purge Pal; Laser Lady and her archenemy, Ms. Exceptionallylonglastname; The Tweak, a visitor from a planet of perfectionists who can "squeeze 30 percent more response out of any mailing"; and Grid Girl, who can design foolproof DM test grids that "actually yield valid results."


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