The Herald-Journal's recent editorial, "Postal progress," begged for balance in both logic and facts about the U.S. Postal Service, our employees and customers. Here's some food for thought for your readers.
While it's true that the recession and the Internet are contributing to difficult financial circumstances for the Postal Service, the major cause of loss of mail volume and revenue is the economy. Let's not all throw in the towel and turn to the Internet without considering some important facts:
* The U.S. Postal Service is our nation's third largest employer; it's employees and customers represent a functioning, viable $900 billion economic cornerstone of our economy in a time when jobs are scarce.
* Eighty-two percent of Americans still pay their bills by mail.
* Like other American businesses, the Internet has revolutionized customer service for the Postal Service with usps.com providing 80 percent of the services you get at a post office. In 2008, stamp and retail sales at the Postal Store totaled more than $442 million.
* The Postal Service has the largest fleet of alternative fuel vehicles in the nation: 43,000 in all.
* According to the Environmental Protection Agency, advertising mail accounts for less than 2.4 percent of municipal waste in landfills.
* U.S. Postal Service Priority and Express packaging is free, eco-friendly and recyclable.
* Thanks to the Postal Inspection Service and the Office of the Inspector General, delivery of your mail is secure.
* Less than 4 percent of identity theft happens through the mail; the remainder comes from illegal computer access of personal information.
* Without the Postal Service providing affordable, universal, surcharge-free prices, private shipping rates would likely skyrocket.
* Is e-mail cheaper than a 44-cent stamp? Consider the cost of the computer, the Internet service provider fee, the power bill and the ongoing equipment upgrades.
* About one-third of our population does not have Internet access.
* Ideas to charge per e-mail already have been considered by Internet service providers. Without a postal alternative, service providers could charge and raise the cost for each e-mail at will.
* Other forms of communication (TV and the Internet) have a considerable negative environmental impact, sending outmoded models to landfills by the millions. According to the National Security Council, only 11 percent of computers get recycled, and small-time consumers alone add 10 million computers to landfills each year.
From the telegraph to the Internet, new technology has historically caused many predictions of the end of the Postal Service. But because the Postal Service is able to adapt and change to ensure secure, affordable, universal delivery, it has withstood similar threats to serve our country for almost 250 years.
(David Becker II is the Postmaster in Spartanburg, S.C.)