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Privatizing USPS would end universal mail access

To the Editor: This is in response to the editorial, “Privatize the Postal Service,” by the Orange County, Calif., Register that appeared in the Mercury on Sept. 30.

The article contains many of the canned talking points that “postal privateers” have circulated for years. As someone who has spent a great deal of time trying to help negotiate a legislative pathway for the people’s Postal Service to adapt to an Internet-based economy, I find it necessary to offer some clarification to three statements in the article.

The first statement omits one important word that completely changes the meaning of the statement. It reads in part, “Some of the losses are attributable to the roughly $5.5 billion in annual payments the Postal Service must make to pre-pay its retiree health care obligations...” While it is true that the Postal Service has willfully defaulted on those pre-payments, those pre-payments were mandated to cover retirement benefits for future retirees. By omitting the word “future,” the author would like readers to believe that current liabilities are unfunded. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the Postal Service has chosen to default on said payments because the pre-funding account already has nearly $50 billion in it — enough to pay anticipated retiree health benefits for the next 30 years. No other government agency, and very few Fortune 500 companies, even come close to being as well-funded.

The second statement is completely factual and clearly defines the Postal Service’s constitutional mission. It states, “Moreover, the USPS is required to deliver mail to remote, rural locations for the same price as letters delivered in heavily populated, urban areas.” In order to provide universal service at a universal price, it is inevitable that not all areas of delivery are equally profitable. Some areas of delivery may be overpriced, while others may be underpriced because the Postal Service’s mission is to give all Americans equal access.

The third statement is written in “Wall Street code.” It states, “Let supply and demand — not politicians and bureaucrats — determine the proper price of mail, which services are offered and whether these prices and services should vary by location.” What this really says is, “Big Wall street investors would love to get their hands on selected delivery areas that could turn a very quick and large profit, but have no interest in the adverse effect such acquisition would have on anyone currently living in less profitable delivery scenarios since very few big Wall Street investors live in rural and small town America.”

The Kansas State Association of Letter Carriers will continue to diligently work with members of Kansas’ congressional delegation to ensure that rural and small-town Kansans’ need for universal postal access at a universal price, is not trampled in Wall Street’s undying greed for quick and easy profit.

Rod Holub
Retired President
Kansas State Association Of Letter Carriers

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