It's small wonder the U.S. post office is having financial troubles. The methods of delivery have, compared to other services, not evolved much from the Pony Express days. To have routes walked in urban areas and trucks up and down every street six days a week is the most expensive way and, in my estimation, overkill. At least three days a week nothing is delivered but junk mail.
Certainly for most homeowners, every other day delivery would suffice, since most urgent communications are now handled electronically. Community mail stands at the corner of the street such as exist in condos would be another solution.
People with special needs could still be individually serviced, and businesses that rely on daily delivery could, for an additional fee, be handled, or use post office boxes. I'm sure the union would be unhappy, but the retirees would still receive pensions without taxpayer bailouts. Welcome to the 21st century.
Don Niemann, Seminole
End Saturday service
With the communication methods available to us, the Postal Service certainly needs to have its operations and practices reviewed. Dropping Saturday delivery seems an obvious choice and a money saver.
There must be hundreds of stamp designs. The post office should standardize a design for each denomination and eliminate all the others requiring special artwork. This would save money in design and printing.
And stop delivering packages. FedEx, UPS and similar companies should be able to, and happy to, take over that work.
Len Wilson, St. Petersburg
No more free lunch
When will Congress realize that the Postal Service "free lunch" is over and that postal rates need to be adjusted — and soon. The benefits that so many enterprises enjoy is not what I consider equality for all.
We receive unwanted advertisements, solicitations, campaign letters, credit card applications, periodicals and many pieces of junk mail — all sent to us through the Postal Service at little or no cost to the sender. Something has to change. Congress should allow or direct the Postal Service to increase its rates for most of these types of mailings.
In the process, Congress should give up its free postage benefit. With all the campaign money members receive, they should pay the same rates as we do to mail a first-class letter.
Peter B. Ferrara Sr., Belleair Bluffs
Paying for power they'll never use | Sept. 4
Investors deserve stock
Customers are being forced to invest in Progress Energy and not getting any compensation for our investments. If I want to risk extra money buying Progress Energy stock, I am free to do so. Now here is a state law that says each and every Progress Energy customer must invest in Progress Energy but get no return for their money.
I have been trying for years to get a lawyer or law firm to take up a class action suit against the state and/or Progress Energy to either have the law declared unconstitutional (which I firmly believe it is), or to force Progress Energy to give one share of common stock to each customer, each month, so they receive increased compensation for their forced investment. Seems only fair.
Dave Cordes, Clearwater
Progress Energy charging ratepayers for a nuclear plant that may or may not be built is a gross ripoff.
The ratepayers are already being charged for a nuclear plant in Crystal River that, instead of saving customers money, is costing us not only in expensive repairs but for the cost of providing alternative, more expensive fuel.
We don't need dangerous nuclear plants. The safe, cheap and renewable power source is solar.
Dean Ritchison, St. Petersburg
Soldier to civilian | Sept. 6
Bravo to the University of South Florida and the other universities that are meeting the needs of veterans who wish to return to school after leaving the military. I wish we would have had this type of transition help when I entered college, on the Vietnam-era GI Bill, after my military service.
In 1968, I was six years removed from high school and married. I felt many times that I was in the "wrong class" as so aptly put by Donny Jones. We owe the current crop of veterans many thanks and all the assistance they can use.
Albert Pitcher, St. Petersburg
Strategies for black students | Sept. 3
School leadership essential
Pinellas County schools will now study how to improve academic achievement for lower-income students. Why the district has waited so long is puzzling, since No Child Left Behind clearly focused on the issue of higher performance for all students.
I have worked for Pinellas County schools for 35 years, and I have a few suggestions to get the study started. Hire the hardest-working, most committed and talented people to work in lower-performing schools. Money can be poured into these schools but it will be wasted if you do not have the right people leading them.
Lower-income, lower-performing schools do not need a CEO-style principal; these schools need a principal who is student-centered, who cares about the whole child. Lower-income students want to be cared for first before they care.
Low-achievement students do come to school with disadvantages and special needs, and they are behind and many areas. These students are worth the extra time, extra effort, extra care, and the money needed to improve their chances for success.
Bill Cooper, Dunedin
Refreshed by (re)design | Sept. 3, AutoLink
Focus on mileage
Last week the Times reviewed a vehicle that gets only 17 mpg in the city. The same day, an editorial appeared opposing President Barack Obama for backing off from smog regulation. I see these two pieces as contradictory.
Although they are ostensibly just reviews, I believe that unless the reviewers make stronger statements about the mileage of the vehicles, these car reviews are implied endorsements. I would like to see the Times go further in creating congruency between its editorials and the rest of the paper and offer some leadership in changing the way Floridians think about driving.
What if the Times only reviewed vehicles that got, say, at least 25 mpg? Would there be enough cars to review to last the entire year? That would be an interesting experiment.
Michelle Flint, St. Petersburg
Texas firefighters battle, money dwindles Sept. 8
Budget cuts hit home
The front-page photo Thursday of fire devastation in Texas was shocking enough without the notation in the caption below it. It said the fires were burning "three months after the Texas Forest Service budget was cut by a third."
It seems the dire predictions of the effects of budget cuts have come true. I wonder if Gov. Rick Perry would like to comment on global warming and drought and out-of-control government.
In the end, we all pay the price. In this case in lives and property.
Florence Laureira, Hudson
Jobs crisis demands action | Sept. 5, editorial
Too much dependency
What liberals like those on Times editorial board do not understand is that President Barack Obama and his leftist, anticapitalist cronies are intent on destroying this capitalist system and transforming it into a socialist one.
In the socialist system, the individual citizen is controlled by the central government from cradle to grave through dependencies in housing, employment, medical care, etc. Such dependency is a form of slavery, a return to the old way of doing things where totalitarian regimes control their populations.
Elizabeth Morowati, Tampa
Demand is lacking
The American economy is dependent on a strong middle class to consume two-thirds of gross domestic product. Middle class demand has evaporated. Automobile sales, for example, are expected to be down by 25 percent for the next few years and new home sales are further off.
Businesses that depend on increased demand for their products will not expand until they see or believe that demand will rise again. That will not happen until we return to a society that has a strong and vigorous middle class, and that will not happen if we continue to shift income and wealth to the very rich.
Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg
Reform taxes, regulation
The Times' answer to the jobs crisis: more spending. Robert Samuleson's column notes that the president "has already provided massive 'stimulus': $4 trillion in budget deficits from 2009 to 2011." That stimulus has not worked, so now you propose more of the same?
The only way were are going to extricate ourselves from this mess is by freeing up the trillions of capital tied up by U.S. companies overseas and the trillions they are currently sitting on because they are afraid to invest in expansion of their operations domestically. Comprehensive tax reform coupled with a moratorium on new federal regulations and a serious review of existing regulations is the only way to do this.
Charles H. Heist, Clearwater
Sunday's Floridian section was great. It renewed my faith in the press.
The "Letter from Tennessee" was so poignant. After avoiding so many articles about child abuse, this was a real tonic. All new parents should be required to read this piece.
"Still Standing" catches the real American spirit. These people just want to take care of their families and serve others. They are willing to change, and to make do. Thank God for their example.
Nell Thomas, Dunedin