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Letters to the editor

Readers write in about global warming, the Federal Reserve, e-books, Greg Mortenson, and the US Postal Service.

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Build schools, not bombs

Thank you so much for the article about Greg Mortenson (Dec. 27). What this man is doing by building schools and goodwill among the Afghan and Pakistani peoples will far outstrip what we can accomplish by dropping bombs. I’m so much encouraged about his working with the top military leaders, and their willingness to listen and learn. We’re finally learning that diplomacy and working with people is much better than trying to convince them against their will.

Zelpha Boyd

Bozeman, Mont. 

Mail delivery must remain a public service

Your recent editorial ("Making sure the US Postal Service delivers") got one thing right: The USPS subsidizes advertising mail. But in its analysis of other causes of the post crisis, the Monitor draws the wrong conclusion – suggesting an end to the world's most extensive, affordable, and trusted postal system.

To set the record straight:

• Congress put the Postal Service in a financial bind in 2006 when it directed the Post Service to "pre-fund" retiree healthcare benefits. That mandate – a burden shared by no other federal agency or business – costs the Postal Service more than $5 billion a year. Without the pre-funding requirement, the Postal Service would have had a surplus of $1.2 billion for its 2008 and 2009 fiscal years. Congress should reverse this onerous requirement.

• Electronic communication is not the primary cause of the decline in mail volume. Mail volume reached its height in 2006, well after Americans began using e-mail and the Internet on a mass scale. Volume has slumped by approximately 18 percent since then, but the loss is almost  entirely due to a recession-driven decline in business mail.

• Subsidies, in the form of excessive "worksharing discounts," actually "forgive" more than the USPS saves when work is subcontracted. Such discounts rob the Postal Service of desperately needed revenue and threaten the viability of the mail system. They should be discontinued.

• The Postal Service is inherently more labor-intensive than UPS and FedEx because, unlike its competitors, the USPS serves more than 180 million addresses six days a week. UPS and FedEx spend a greater proportion of their operating budgets on maintaining their transportation systems, including privately-owned air fleets.

• The claim that USPS employees have "higher wages than workers at a private FedEx and UPS" is simply incorrect. In fact, postal workers' pay is comparable to, and in many cases less than, that earned by UPS and FedEx workers in similar occupations.

It is deeply troubling that the Monitor's editors support ending the Postal Service's exclusive right to sort and deliver mail. The Postal Service must remain a public service if we are to honor our nation's commitment to serve every American community – large or small, rich or poor, urban or rural – at affordable, uniform rates.

That tradition has served the nation's people and businesses well for more than 200 years. Americans trust the Postal Service – staffed by public employees sworn to protect the privacy of their mailboxes – to collect, process, and deliver their mail. They shouldn't be asked to accept anything less.

William Burrus

President, American Postal Workers Union