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May 2 2013 03:26 PM

Over the past three years, I've written more articles and items on postal reform than even I can remember. Despite the repeated assurances from those on Capitol Hill who are supposed to handle such things, virtually nothing has been done to address some of the ills that are plaguing the nation's postal system and hampering the post's ability to function effectively as an engine for mail-based commerce.

Last year, Congress' postal leaders told us they were within a hair's breadth of getting a reform measure out of Congress on the President's desk for his signature. Or, as they like to put it up there in the marble dome, they had gotten the bill down into defender's red zone. (You see, football's big in Washington, and when you can't actually get anything done, you try to make your failures sound impressive through the use of football metaphors.)

Red zone? My foot. Those who were familiar with Washington election year politics were well aware that not even the Tappan Zee could have spanned the gulf between the opposing sides.

Now, we're being told Congress has its postal reform ball just within the ten-yard span from the goal line. Big deal. Do you want to know how many games I've seen in my lifetime where even the last ten yards presented insurmountable obstacles?

These are the times when after hearing years of congressional blithering about the crisis proportions of the Postal Service's fiscal state, the impact a postal collapse could have on the economy, and the need to get something done to sidestep perilous postal paths, everyone starts talking as if they were from Missouri. "Show me!"

But here's the thing I really don't get. 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.

And what about the mailing industry's "silent" majority? Are they flooding Congress with letters, phone calls, faxes, and emails telling Congress to put up or get out of the way? Nope. They sit there like quiet sheep willing to be led by many a Capitol Hill Judas goat who, in the long run, will do nothing more than lead these innocent sheep to a postal slaughter.

For its part, the Postal Service has been clear. It's told Congress repeatedly that postal reform is sorely needed, and that fiscal conditions were about to get truly butt ugly unless Congress got off the dime to act. It's told Congress that the Postal Service needs:

· A re-amortization of the postal retiree health benefit pre-funding requirement enacted in 2006.
· A refund of the excess monies already contributed in employee's behalf in the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS).
· More flexibility to bring about the necessary changes that must be done to right-size the Postal Service's human and physical infrastructure to more closely match present day and realistically projected work load needs.
· Authority for the Postal Service to institute with its employees a fiscally sound and responsible self-run health insurance and defined contribution benefit programs.
· Greater flexibility from Congress and the regulator to pursue new programs and services that can be accommodated within the scope of the USPS' postal mission that can generate new sources of revenue.

Despite the fact that the Postal Service has made great strides in reducing its workforce complement and reorganizing its network and services to produce services that adequately and more cost-efficiently meet the nation's continuing postal needs, much of what needs doing can only be undertaken if Congress does its part in re-fitting the nation's postal laws.

Sooner or later (and hopefully sooner rather than later), the members of our industry must wake up to the reality that Congress legislates for those that it sees. If you want Congress' attention, you've got to get into its face and make a lot of noise. If you just sit there quietly in the background, you'll get rolled right over.

So, what will it take to get the members of our industry off the postal reform bench and into the game? The clock is ticking. The game's winding down, and you've just been given your two minute warning. Just remember that when the gun goes off ending the game, it may not be filled with blanks and it may be pointed at you.
Keep in mind that old saying: "There are three kinds of people in this world. Those who make things happen. Those who merely watch things happen. And those who wonder what happened." In which camp would you prefer to be?

If old sayings aren't your thing, then remember the prayer: "Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you."
And then, there's Del Polito's corollary. "Continue to sit on your duff doing nuthin', and get yourself ready to suffer the consequences."