Postal Service old but still essential | Sept. 17, editorial
It's time to privatize mail delivery
I agree that the Postal Service is essential and provides a "unique" service; the electronic regime has turned its services upside down. But the solutions proposed are inadequate. We hear nostalgia (who doesn't love Ben Franklin?), but can you imagine the airlines being managed by an "Airmaster General" or the telephone service run by a congressionally mandated "Telephonic General" and staff? We all know how Amtrak is run, and it isn't even an essential service!
The only solution to saving the "unique" but apparently unloved U.S. Postal Service is to privatize it. Divide the country into a few postal regions and demand that the companies provide services to all, including remote locations. Let them compete, advertise on their delivery vans or whatever. If we can regulate insurance companies and banking services while maintaining their "private'' status, we can do this, and the companies can make a profit, too.
Some countries have state-run airlines, telephones and railways. Those who travel know how awful their services are and how unresponsive they are to consumer needs.
Sankaran S. Babu, Wesley Chapel
Postal Service old but still essential
Snail mail is anachronistic
Your editorial misses the point. The U.S. Postal Service does nothing that cannot be done faster and cheaper by the Internet and the private parcel and overnight-delivery services.
Taking advantage of the Supreme Court ruling that electronic copies and signatures have the legal force of the originals, I switched our essential correspondence online to e-mail, with electronic-fund transfers taking care of bills and checks. We have gone to e-mail and Facebook to replace all social mail, including greetings cards.
Despite the scare stories, the Internet is safer and more reliable than the USPS. Our surface mail can be and has been stolen or lost despite the best efforts of the USPS. Even on parcels the USPS can't compete.
For the past year we have received and reply to on average only two letters per month of any importance. The last folder of stamps I bought was in February. Almost all of the mail we receive is junk mail and unwanted advertising. It's a vast waste of resources and energy, carried at reduced rates that our meager first-class stamps and income taxes subsidize.
Basic e-mail service could be provided for every household in America that isn't yet connected to the Internet for far less than the USPS subsidies.
James Klapper, Oldsmar
Congress needs to step in
The words "harsh reality" and the United States Postal Service have unfortunately now become synonymous. Your editorial pretty much said it all.
Congress, among its numerous other lapses in meeting our country's many needs, has dropped the ball in reacting to the financial disaster that is occurring within the rapidly outdated and perhaps soon-to-become-bankrupt U.S. Postal Service.
The suggested fixes, such as five-day delivery service, closure of low revenue-producing terminals, ceasing the advance funding of its employee retirement benefits and layoffs of 120,000 personnel, are bandages. The post office has seen its better days and sorely needs to be restructured. These options have dwindled to include bulk advertising and serving older folks like me who aren't ready to pay my bills online.
With rapid advancements in electronic technology, the future of our beloved postal service looks bleak. Perhaps there is a solution that will allow it to coexist in our future society. But first Congress needs to stop the bleeding and try get to the Postal Service on a firm financial footing to hopefully ensure its existence in the coming years.
Michael Merino, Tampa
It's politics, pure and simple
I am a letter carrier for the USPS in the St. Petersburg area. Let there be no mistake about what this is all truly about. It is politics as usual. We have a movement in America that wants to break the backs of all organized labor. I assure you, there are people who are trying to bring down the Postal Service so that it can be privatized, pieced out and sold to the highest bidder. Mail would be carried by contractors who would be paid much less. How safe do you feel about that? This is not some conspiracy theory. This will happen if Congress has its way.
Steven Cook, St. Petersburg
Don't ask, don't tell
End all the unjust practices
This week, we finally saw the end of a dishonorable policy that prevented gay and lesbian American citizens from serving openly in the military. The end of don't ask, don't tell is long overdue, and while its demise is cause for celebration we should not be fooled into thinking that all is just in our armed forces.
Regardless of whether service members are married to their same-sex partners in states that recognize such marriages, they will not receive the plethora of spousal benefits that are freely given to heterosexual couples. In order to redress this injustice, we must do away with the Defense of Marriage Act. Until gay and lesbian service members can offer their spouses the same benefits and protections enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts, they will remain second-class citizens. If we are truly willing to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, then it is time to honor their service and sacrifice by granting them the same benefits other military families receive.
Christopher Wheldon, Tampa
Visions from the top | Sept. 20
A Pier for the common man
It's a bit comforting that the Times ran a picture of the architects competing to design a new Pier taking in the magnificence of the rooftop plaza. Let's hope that the winner really understands that regardless of one's opinion of the design of the present Pier, that fifth-floor veranda is pure magic. It's even more important than that; it is a public space in which both princes and paupers can take in the incredible natural beauty of Tampa Bay. One does not have to be affluent to experience this magnificence. That's the way a public space should be.
This is a vital component of any new Pier, and it may be a particular challenge if they do, indeed, move the structure closer to shore. Don't forget your constituents, City Council, when you give the final vote on a new design. There is a whole lot of emphasis on the upscale crowd on our public waterfront these days. Let's not forget the majority of St. Pete residents and visitors.
Jeannie Cline, St. Petersburg
A Pier for suits or shirttails?
Three out-of-town architects vying to design the next-generation Pier play tourists in black suits and long-sleeved shirts in September in St. Petersburg? I question if they will design a Pier that understands and interprets this generation of locals. Bet they design a Pier that appeals to people like them, leaving those of us who live here standing around in shorts, tank tops and flip-flops wondering what is going on out there.
Lindsay E. Wilson, St. Petersburg