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Editorial: Another Postal Rate Case is Inevitable

If you didn’t know any better, last week’s National Postal Forum may have left you hoping the next postal rate increase will be delayed (see story, page 1). Don’t be deluded, despite outgoing postmaster general William J. Henderson’s comments otherwise. He says a new rate case may not be filed this summer and has asked deputy postmaster general John Nolan “to explore alternatives to filing a double-digit rate hike.” Is this mere positioning in the wake of recent bad press and criticism from Capitol Hill? Probably, especially in light of two gatherings this week: the Board of Governors’ monthly meeting and a congressional hearing to discuss postal reform. Another rate case is inevitable, and so is the timing. “There is no way to avoid the fact that we’re going to have to raise rates,” Nolan said at the forum.

The U.S. Postal Service already has frozen capital commitments that will affect more than 800 facility projects; its volume is up barely, but revenue is down as mailers scale back because of the slowing economy; and it will lose $2 billion this year because of rising costs. “The post office is one of the most wasteful and bloated operations in America,” according to Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste. A solution? Easy. “All it needs to do is stop hiring people,” says PostalWatch’s Rick Merritt.

At least one postal worker would disagree with Merritt’s comment. An e-mail sent to me last week (we’ll leave the author nameless) lambastes the mailing industry, saying, “As a letter carrier for 27 years, I have been dutifully, through rain, sleet and snow, delivering daily your assorted advertisements, along with the ‘other’ mail. Maybe it’s just because I am a bit older, but I am finding that it has become more difficult to perform these duties every day. There is more ad mail in the mainstream on a daily basis than the [postal service] can handle, and we are finding that we can’t give your product the ‘priority’ it deserves.” I’m sorry, but don’t we all work when it rains or snows? People get assigned new job duties all the time, especially if they’ve been with the same organization for 27 years. If you don’t like what you’ve been told to do, here’s an option: Find a new job.

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