It’s no secret the nation has been riding out a deep recession for a couple of years now. At the Las Vegas Optic, where I have been publisher for nearly six years, we have faced these hard times by making tough decisions.
Last year, for example, we made the move from carrier delivery of our newspaper to mailed delivery. It saved us money. Getting our product to our customers is a costly endeavor, and we were thrilled to find a more affordable option with the U.S. Postal Service.
Of course, we’re not the only small community newspaper that gets delivered to subscribers through the mail. In fact, most U.S. newspapers deliver via the post office. It’s a real advantage for not only newspapers, but other businesses as well, including those who depend on direct mail to reach consumers. Plus, nonprofits take advantage of the reasonable rates when sending out their newsletters and other mass mailings.
But now, the federal government is poised to hit us with a big increase. It will be tough to absorb for anyone who depends on the post office to conduct business. And, frankly, it’s a bad business move for the Postal Service.
Last July, the Postal Service proposed a rate hike that’s 10 times the rate of inflation. That runs contrary to a 2006 law that prohibits USPS from raising the postage rates higher than the rate of inflation. The law is based on sound reasoning — raising rates should not be the way the Postal Service makes up for lost revenue; instead, it should control costs and create greater efficiencies.
It doesn’t take an MBA to know that when revenue drops, expenses must be reduced. That’s how newspapers — and many other businesses and industries — are surviving this recession. It’s not easy, but it has to be done.
The Postal Service, however, isn’t thinking that way. Instead of taking a look at its existing contracts and negotiating with its workforce to reduce costs, postal officials want to use a legal loophole in the law that allows for a larger rate hike in extraordinary circumstances — arguing that the recession is just the circumstance that loophole is referring to.
Meanwhile, for community newspapers that deliver through the mail, our costs would increase 8-10 percent with this latest proposal. That’s going to hurt free enterprise, and it will ultimately be passed down to the paying consumer.
And, yes, jobs are at stake here — hundreds of thousands at the USPS, and several million private-sector jobs that depend on the local post office to deliver their products, advertisements and catalogues.
Why is it that when government entities face financial hardships, rather than having to make the tough decisions, they pass the cost on to the public, their customers. But when a private business struggles financially, it’s either cut costs or go out of business?
Doesn’t exactly seem fair, does it?