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Save the post office

February 13, 2013

Since Congress is to blame for the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) fiscal problems, Congress can fix it without too much difficulty. There is no taxpayer money involved. As we know, Congress in 2006 passed a law requiring the USPS to pre-fund 75 years of retiree benefits in a 10-year time span. It means that the postal service must set aside $5.5 billion each year. No other private or public institution labors under this burden. Absent this burden, the post office can run a profit even with competition from the Internet.

The post office has overpaid some of its retirement benefits and Congress could allow the postal service to access some of this fund; the demands of the pre-funding of benefits could be reduced. That would put an end to the crisis mentality for now. To end Saturday delivery of mail will cost 25,000 jobs and be a step in the wrong direction.

Now I would like to review how the post office came to be and how important it is to the American people. It was authorized as an independent agency in the United States Constitution. The United States Postal Service has a legal obligation to provide trusted, universal postal service at affordable prices to the public. It guarantees that when you mail a letter or a package it will be protected by postal employees until it reaches its destination. Under penalty of law, no one can put anything in or take anything from your mail box. The USPS runs an investigative unit to protect the postal service, its employees and customers from crime, and to protect the nation’s mail system from criminal misuse. The USPS employs 574,000 people, the third largest civilian employer in the United States. It owns and operates a fleet of 260,000 vehicles. Since 1980 it has received no taxpayer funding. I think the United States Congress should be trying to strengthen the USPS, not sabotage it with impossible burdens.

Congress caused this injustice; it must fix it now. I think putting pressure on our representatives could save the post office.

Judy Hildebrand
North Branch, NY