Free Speech and the Price of Second-Class Mail

The editorial ``Needed: Fair Postage for Nonprofits,'' April 23, squarely hits the mark. Nonprofits must not by successive additional postage increases be made to compensate for the one-cent reduction from the Postal Service's desired first-class rate. The second-class rate is arguably too high already. The American Civil Liberties Union suggests that such increases can have a damaging impact on First Amendment freedom-of-speech guarantees in that many of the small groups that try to influence public and political opinion through mailings to their members will be priced out of business. Big lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association can easily bear the increases.

The free flow of information was the founders' purpose for a national post office. That flow can be killed by economic forces.

Phillip H. Miller, Annandale, Va.

My heart bleeds for all you poor struggling nonprofit corporations, being ``unfairly'' made to pay less than half what the rest of us pay in postage. Given the amount of unsolicited, begging junk mail I get from ``charity'' groups, maybe raising their rates to equal normal first-class costs would be best. At the very least, it would cut off some of the flood, and maybe save some trees.

Amy Carpenter, Eugene, Ore.

I agree with this editorial as it applies to newspapers and newsletters. However, I keep records of requests for money from these thousand points of light you mention, and there ought to be a limit! In 1987 we received 694 requests for money from 221 organizations. Last year it was down to 434 requests from 141 organizations. Three organizations have sent us 20 or more requests in one year. Last year I rashly sent a contribution to Feed My People, and already this year they have sent me 16 requests for more money. Why should my tax money subsidize all this? I'd like to charge them first-class postage if they send more than four requests for money to one individual in one year. Maybe that would save some space in our landfills.

Helen Sprecher, Las Cruces, N.M.

Vanishing rural post offices In the article ``Disappearing Rural Post Offices: Why Should We Care?,'' April 18, the author makes a sad but true observation: ``If they do keep closing post offices, loneliness and isolation will increase. The glue that holds communities together will erode that much more.'' First-class mail, in the first place, was in a large measure a social bond, linking person to person and family to family at the cost of only a few cents. Today, for many persons, letter-writing is sadly inhibited by the cos t of the stamps.

Furthermore, the mailman who brings those first-class letters to your door six times a week is an endangered species. One of these days, you'll have to pick up your mail at the post office and then maybe receive your mail printed and transcribed over some kind of electronic device. Cold and mechanical indeed.

Post me a line while there's still time.

A.E. Peters, Albion, Mich.

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