The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

Opinion

December 29, 2013

Another rate hike won’t fix issues faced by Postal Service

Earlier this year, when Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe announced that the U.S. Postal Service would no longer have home delivery of mail on Saturdays in an effort to save $2 billion per year, we applauded the decision.

We knew it wasn’t an easy decision for the Postal Service to make. And we knew it would be met by skepticism and people voicing fears of “particularly harmful” impacts on rural America.

But we also knew it was a good move, considering the service suffered a loss of nearly $16 billion last year. And we acknowledged that sometimes sacrifices would have to be made. Giving up the home delivery of mail one day each week seemed like a small compromise that could have had positive financial effects.

So we were disappointed when, just a few weeks after announcing the plan, the Postal Service said it would cancel its plans to end Saturday mail delivery due to the new stopgap budget Congress had passed that would prohibit the move.

Our disappointment grew last week when regulators approved a temporary price hike of 3 cents for a first-class stamp, bringing the charge to 49 cents a letter.

Regulators hope the increase will help the Postal Service recover from severe mail decreases brought on by the 2008 economic downturn and ultimately save money. We think the increase could have been avoided if the Postal Service had been permitted to stick to its original plan of cutting home delivery of mail on Saturdays.

Think about it. The cost of first-class stamps already jumped once this year — to the 46-cent cost regulators just approved another increase for — while postcard prices went up to 33 cents. That was the fifth increase since 2006; last week’s marked the sixth.

Eliminating one day of home delivery would have cut down on the need for such frequent increases, ultimately saving each of us money every time we pay a bill, send someone a birthday card or mail a postcard while we’re on vacation.

Instead, individuals will have to pay the higher rate when it takes effect Jan. 26. Regulators say it will last no more than two years, though they stopped short of making the price increase permanent.

We all know the Postal Service has been struggling in recent years. It lost $5 billion in the last fiscal year and has been trying to get Congress to pass legislation to help with its financial woes. The post office has struggled for years with declining mail volume as a result of growing Internet use and a 2006 congressional requirement that it make annual $5.6 billion payments to cover expected health care costs for future retirees — of which, three payments have been defaulted on.

Regulators can keep approving small rate increases. But it’s clear that these “temporary” steps are not working. Instead of changes that make sense, we’re being forced to hand over more cents.

It’s time for a better plan.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated

    Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
    During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.

    April 18, 2014

  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

    A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

  • State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    Instant.
    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law

    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

  • Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region

    Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
    That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
    When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.

    April 6, 2014

  • COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community

    There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
    I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.

    April 6, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads