Make Your Voice Heard
By Gene Del Polito
There's an old Chinese curse that states: "May you live in interesting times." For all of us who use, or support the use of, mail for business communication and commerce, these are most certainly interesting times.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has fallen into a financial sinkhole. No one knows how deep the hole actually is. Critical mail volumes are declining, postal costs are increasing at a greater-than-inflation pace, and postal officials are telling mailers there may be a need for another round of hefty postal-rate increases. By hefty, they mean that businesses relying on mail will face postal-rate increases in the double-digit range.
For many in the direct mail industry, rate increases of this magnitude spell hard times; for others, bankruptcy. Huge jumps in postal rates also will endanger the viability of mail as an integral part of our nation's economic infrastructure.
To the business executives who use it, mail is a utility service. They rely on it functioning with the same order and predictability as they get from electric, gas, water, telephone and other utility services. A postal infrastructure should be designed to facilitate commerce, not impede it. Double-digit rate increases would erect one whale of an impediment.
Things have gotten bad enough that even the Postal Service's Board of Governors has affirmed to Congress and the president that the USPS is in desperate need of a legislative overhaul. In fact, the Association for Postal Commerce has called upon the president to charge an executive-level commission to begin the work of defining the key public policy issues that must be identified and addressed as a prelude to meaningful postal legislative reform.
Mail is and will remain an integral part of the way Americans communicate and do business. The cost of a faltering postal system would be staggering to our nation's economy. We must address some of the critical short-term issues that could cause our postal system (and many of our businesses) to collapse.
What a Mailer Can Do
Remember the adage: "All politics is local." If you want an issue to be addressed in Washington, frame the topic as locally important, and communicate that local importance to your senators and representatives in Congress.
Don't stop there. Be sure your state's governor and chief local officials know how important postal reform is to your employees and company. As an employer, you represent jobs, incomes and corporate tax dollars. Your employees represent sales made locally, as well as local, state and federal tax dollars.
Your suppliers add to the local and state economic well-being. If your company becomes endangered, so also is its contribution to the overall economy.
Do whatever you can to get state and local officials to support your call to Washington for postal change. Be sure your own employees know what's at stake. Get them involved, since it's their jobs, income and security on the line.
Gene Del Polito, Ph.D., is president of the Association for Postal Commerce, also known as PostCom. Its home page is at http://postcom.org. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.