In a prior article written for Mailing Systems Technology magazine ("What Will It Take?"), I said:

"Everyone within the mailing industry knows how badly meaningful postal reform is needed. Everyone knows the toll the uncertainties of Congress' inaction is having on the Postal Service and its customers. Everyone knows that the postal system is still a vital and needed part of the nation's economic infrastructure. But no one within the industry seems willing to tell their "friends" in Congress they've had enough of congressional lolly-gagging, and that it's time to put up or shut up. Nobody wants to tell their "friends" that unless Congress acts soon, the political campaign contributions will end, and that the industry will spur a torrent of public criticism that will mess up many a members' congressional careers.

"Instead, the voices of the industry continue to hold back. They continue to to talk quietly and patiently about the pendency of a postal reform measure everyone really knows Congress hasn't the stones to enact."

Well, the heck with all that. When it met early in June, the Board of Director of the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) decided it was high-time someone spoke more affirmatively about what mailers wanted to see in the next postal reform bill, and it approved nine principles which, the PostCom leadership maintained, should be a part of the nation's next postal law. Here is a list of those principles:

--Principle One: The Postal Service should be allowed to develop and propose a health benefits program that may be separate and distinct from the current FEHBP health insurance program provided it meets the needs and garners the support of those who work for the Postal Service.

--Principle Two: The Postal Service should be allowed to develop a defined contribution retirement plan of its own in lieu of the current retirement plan provided under the FERS program.

--Principle Three: Arbitrators called in to address management-labor disputes that cannot be settled by collective bargaining should be Instructed to ensure that the consideration of the fiscal position
and the marketplace challenges facing the Postal Service have been taken into sufficient account.

--Principle Four: Congress should authorize the return to the Postal Service any funds that have been contributed to and are being held in excess of the amount that's needed to ensure the adequate and timely funding of the Postal Service's obligation to support its employees' participation and benefits under the FERS program.

--Principle Five: Congress should direct that the current requirement for the Postal Service to pre-fund the health retirement benefits of its employees and retirees under the CSRS program be re-amortized for complete funding over a more actuarially justified period of time in lieu of the 10 years currently mandated under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.

--Principle Six: Congress should reform the rules governing eligibility for Workers Compensation to ensure that workers whose age otherwise would qualify them for retirement-related benefits have their future compensation and benefits provided in accord with those retirement programs in lieu of continued coverage under Workers Compensation.

--Principle Seven: Congress should retain in postal law the requirement that annual increases in prices for market-dominant postal services (those services covered by any statutory monopoly or for which the Postal Service benefits from a position of market dominance in the provision of the service) can be no greater than the annual increase in general prices as determined under the Urban Consumer Price Index (CPI-U).

--Principle Eight: The Postal Service should be permitted to make modification in its days of delivery, network and services, if deemed essential to its fiscal viability and in alignment with its universal service obligation.

--Principle Nine: The Postal Service should be empowered with greater flexibility in the design and offering of new products and services provided that those products and services do not result in demonstrable harm to private sector businesses that already provide such services, and do not permit the Postal Service to unfairly compete with the mailing and fulfillment services industry.

Now, of course, there are knotheads out there who prefer to vilify the PostCom Board for taking a stand in behalf of those within the mailing industry which it represents. The complaints come the loudest from those who simply haven't gotten grasp of the reality that the nation's postal system is fully supported and paid for by those who use mail for business purposes, and that the nation's postal system remains a vital part of the infrastructure by which we conduct commerce.

Instead, they would prefer to stick their heads in the sand and wish for Congress to preserve a way of life which is no longer sustainable without the influx of tax dollars. Then again, there are those complainers out there who couldn't care less if taxpayers were now asked to fund a postal system, if the result would be the satisfaction of the wants and desires. Never mind that the nation can't afford to do that. Nothing, in their minds is more important that satisfying their wants and desires, despite the fact that the nation would be doing well if it focused more on addressing and satisfying our continuing postal needs.

When I hear all their moaning and gnashing of teeth, I'm reminded of that old saying of Maggie Thatcher's. "The trouble with a socialist is that eventually he runs out of his ability to spend other people's money."

By the Way, Here's An Offer You Shouldn't Refuse...

Want to get to know better the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom)? All you need to do is to take advantage of a special three-month membership trial offer we're making available to the readers of Mailing Systems Technology. Just give Caroline Miller a call (703-524-0096), and tell her you want to take advantage of the MST special offer. We'll get you going fast.

Gene Del Polito, President of the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom)