Guest column: Postal Service needs common sense reforms

2013-08-12T19:00:00Z 2013-10-04T13:34:45Z Guest column: Postal Service needs common sense reforms Steve Doyal stltoday.com

Since its founding, the U.S. Postal Service has been delivering what we in the greeting card industry call “mail moments.” We spend a lot of time helping create “mail moments” — the emotional reaction someone experiences when a special piece of mail is delivered, addressed personally to them. Given some of the Postal Service’s financial troubles in recent years, some believe that the days of the “mail moment” and the Postal Service altogether are numbered, an inevitable casualty of an increasingly digital age. But they’re wrong. In fact, we could strengthen the Postal Service with a three-step process.

First, the Postal Service should install cluster boxes on a widespread, national scale where it is feasible and makes the most sense. Second, there is virtually unanimous agreement the Postal Service should work with Congress to amend the way it pre-funds retiree benefits. The Postal Service is the only federal agency that pre-funds 100 percent of its retiree benefits 10 years in advance, a very stringent requirement that is causing a lot financial difficulty. While pre-funding is important, amending this mandate to a more reasonable timetable would immediately improve the Postal Service’s condition. The third step, if the first two are not enough, is to draw from a list of 53 alternative proposals that the Postal Service could implement immediately. All of these proposals are included in the latest report from the Greeting Card Association (GCA) that sets the Postal Service on a path to solvency without cutting critical services or raising rates.

The GCA has long been a strategic partner of the Postal Service and we are proud of our collaboration with them over the years, including the first Forever Stamp and the Butterfly stamp that makes it easy for postal clerks and customers to understand the appropriate postage for square cards. While the Postal Service’s struggles have been well documented in the press, commonsense solutions have not. That’s why we released our report; to provide a solution that everyone can agree with and move the ball forward before it’s too late. We need to bring all stakeholders to the table to craft the kind of reform the Postal Service needs. That’s why I’m here in St. Louis, addressing the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association’s National Convention, because they are the hands and feet that make “mail moments” a reality for so many.

The need for a strong and robust Postal Service is as clear today as it was for Ben Franklin, our nation’s first Postmaster General. 6.5 billion greeting cards, invitations and stationery are purchased every year and about 60 percent of those are mailed through the Postal Service. Not only that, but according to a report from the Envelope Manufacturers Association, 8.4 million jobs, or six percent of all U.S. jobs, depend on the mailing industry and support $1.3 trillion in sales revenue. So, the connection between a sustainable Postal Service and a growing economy is clear.

The reality is that the Postal Service is not just another business; it fulfills a vital public service that millions of Americans rely on. Our commonsense solution will help move the Postal Service from its current problems to a future where it is both fully functioning and financially solvent for the next generation of “mail moments.”

Mr. Doyal is Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications at Hallmark and the incoming president of the Greeting Card Association, the U.S. trade association serving the greeting card and social expression industry.

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