Letters to the editor
Readers write in about global warming, the Federal Reserve, e-books, Greg Mortenson, and the US Postal Service.
War’s impact on CO2
Gregory’s M. Lamb’s article, “A cooling on global warming?” (Dec. 6), provided much food for thought. I often wonder if there is any way of assessing the effect of war on the temperature of the atmosphere. Every bullet shot, every gun fired, every bomb exploded, and every rocket launched must contribute to global warming, and it has been going on for centuries. Can this be assessed? Could it be one more reason to avoid war?
Neville A. Merry
Who’s on watch?
David Francis’s column, “Does the Federal Reserve need an audit?” (Dec. 20), invites the rather obvious answer of yes. Of course no individual or institution relishes the idea of close procedural examinations. However, auditing such an institution should not be political. Instead it must be performed by expert accountants well versed in the banking and economic disciplines.
These experts must also report to an apolitical committee and they must report to Congress without prejudice. Anything else only invites a political circus. As the classic graphic novel “Watchmen,” put it:“ Who’s watching the watchmen?”
Richard C. Geschke
After reading every word in the Dec. 20 issue, I agree with those who compare these first years of the e-book to the time of the first printing presses. These events change the world. But the changes also feel monumental for reasons that have nothing to do with reading. Case in point: The young man interviewed for “The e-generation speaks” says it won’t be dangerous to read his e-book while walking down the street because you can buy a case to protect it in case you drop it.
My husband and I, writers and readers of retirement age, laughed pretty hard at that answer. Our answer would be yes, it is dangerous to read while walking down the street because you could injure yourself tripping on a manhole cover, run into someone and knock them down, or be run over by an inattentive driver at an intersection.
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.
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.
President, American Postal Workers Union