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Selling out the postal service

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Several years ago, the U.S. Postal Service shifted from being a public agency to a quasi-governmental corporation -- and ever since, its honchos have bragged that they now run the Post Office like a private business.

Do they ever! Today's postal corporation treats employees like disposable commodities, even while it lavishes high pay and special privileges on top executives and seeks to sell off lucrative parts of the service to private firms.

Check out the farewell party that the outgoing postmaster general, Marvin Runyon, threw for himself -- using our stamp money to pay for it. The shindig featured a posh dinner at Washington, D.C.'s Union Station, an embossed invitation with special stamps highlighting Runyon's career, a $5,000 video extolling Runyon, and a "party favor" for dinner guests in the form of specially engraved envelopes emblazoned with Runyon's mug. The tab was picked up by us taxpayers: $120,000.

Meanwhile, Runyon's successor is making noises that could cost us customers much more dearly -- leading to the end of our country's enviable system of universal postal service. New Postmaster General William Henderson is talking deals with profiteers like the national franchise chain, Mail Boxes Etc. These deals would turn more postal functions over them, letting the chain stores siphon off from the Postal Service the most profitable business and serve only those customers in affluent markets.

Henderson also says he might surrender to the corporate postal plunderers on the core issue of whether only the Post Office can deliver letters to our mail boxes, again letting the privateers pick off the lucrative business and leaving the rest of our communities to a decimated Postal Service, meaning we'd end up paying a higher rate and getting less service than those in rich neighborhoods.

This is NOT what Benjamin Franklin and the other founding fathers had in mind when they established a national postal system with equal service for all.


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