June 14, 2010

Donaldson: Postal Service needs makeover,
not to be shunted aside as obsolete

For the millions of Americans without Internet service, there is no other option.

By LEIGH DONALDSON

(Continued from page 1)

Among the innovative strategies for re-inventing our postal system being bandied about relate to postal ballots, an integral part of our democratic process. Perhaps the nation’s post offices could provide information, distribute and collect voting materials and issue inexpensive residency and address identifications for voting purposes, as Nichols suggests.

So far, President Obama has asserted that he thinks the “privatization” of our postal system is a bad idea, because it leads to companies buying into parts of the government with only profit for motives.

He also doesn’t appear to like the idea of cutting mail delivery down to five days, but it remains to be seen how he fares with more drastic proposals, such as increasing stamp prices and raising weekly magazine and newspaper rates, that could further alienate customers.

Substantially reducing the rates charged to the weekly newspapers and journals of opinion that are part of civic discourse could potentially enhance the furtherance of print media in conjunction with online publishing that is also not yet very profitable.

The Postal Service has the world’s third-largest computing infrastructure, including more than 5,000 remote locations that receive Internet service via satellite. Surely, this impressive capacity could be re-envisioned in productive way.

Americans will always need to communicate with one another via paper and printed materials and will need to ship parcels even when they are ordered on the Internet.

Our postal system should stay true to its original mission and remain a public utility, and our government should work toward maintaining it as a job creator by maximizing its substantial potential.

Leigh Donaldson is a Portland writer and a New York Times Fellow at the International Longevity Center USA. He can be contacted at:

leighd@lycos.com

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