Editorial: Hallelujah

Though the election results drowned out most of the happenings in Washington last week, there was other news to consider. One item bodes very well for the direct marketing community; the other is still uncertain. Unless you live under a rock, you’ve already heard that the U.S. Postal Service says it may be able to delay the next rate increase until 2006 because it can afford to make smaller contributions to a federal government retirement fund.

After enduring three rate increases in 18 months, hallelujah! This news came after the Office of Personnel Management discovered that the Civil Service Retirement System is funded better than everyone thought. The next step is for Congress to change the formula by which the USPS funds it. Though the administration is supportive, the postal service has had mixed success with Congress (How many reform bills have come and gone?). Let’s hope our lawmakers see it as a way to postpone higher rates without jeopardizing the system. In the meantime, the mailing community needs to show its support. This period of rate stability will allow marketers to plan their mail strategies, and if volume grows — who knows — maybe the USPS can extend that date beyond 2006.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court said it will review a case regarding free speech rights and charity telemarketers. Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan appealed a decision regarding his case against Telemarketing Associates Inc., which raised money for VietNow. Ryan argued that only 15 percent of what Telemarketing Associates raised actually went to the charity, but the Illinois Supreme Court dismissed the complaint. Though the nation’s high court repeatedly ruled against states in disputes over charitable solicitations in the 1980s, it may not be good that the justices have decided to look at this case now.

Bye, Bill

DM News thanks Bill Dean for his contributions to the catalog industry over the years, not to mention all those columns he wrote for us. After 37 years, Bill is bidding farewell to cataloging . Whether it was the State of the Catalog Industry, which he helped author each year, or the rise and fall of the Federated-Fingerhut merger, or what dumb thing some dot-com did, he was always ready with a knowledgeable word. Good luck, Bill.

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