These are tough times in so many ways.

Not only does it seem that the Postal Service has been determined (at least over the last several years) to eradicate Postmasters from the face of the earth, but Congress these days is taking shots right and left at federal workers, day after day, after day again. I had lunch with the Washington Post reporter who covers and federal worker beat, and he was as amazed as I was about the intensity and pace of the attacks. Both of us have watched events in Washington for decades and we have never seen anything like it. And, although sometimes postal employees are excluded from those shots, some of those shots are bound to hit home.

The Plight of the Postmaster ...

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t is not a pretty picture. The assumptions behind the shots seem to be that federal employees are overpaid, underworked, and that their job is not particularly valuable to the Republic or its citizens. Amazingly, all this is happening because of politics and, despite the legions of air traffic controllers, law enforcement officers, military officers and ratings, Postmasters and other federal employees that are universally necessary for our society to function efficiently, and despite those who are almost universally well liked and respected (think park rangers), this is not the federal civil servants’ finest hour. Part of the reason that the Postal Service is in such a bad way in Washington is that this city has become so incredibly polarized that facts have begun to become less and less and less important. Ideology has now become more important than facts, and ideological points now seem to trump factual points. Now, what seems to count is not what the facts are, nor what they reasonably might be in the future, but rather how much you can harm your opponent by twisting the facts, and how sharp you can make—and deeply embed—your political barbs. You know what I mean. We hear it every day on the news. This politician says the other one is lying; the other says another is cheating; a third calls a fourth a socialist even though the third took the very same position on the same issue 10 years ago; a fifth says yet another is trying to destroy America ... I tire of this destructive rhetoric and the fact that none of them is really trying to get at what is the truth. Without a sincere quest for factual truth, a democracy cannot function.
The LEAGUE: The Education Organization

• Postmasters ADVOCATE April

The alienation and polarization is rendering our political system dysfunctional and preventing (so far) a reasonable political solution for the Postal Service from being crafted and passing all the way through the system. We are, unfortunately, a political victim of the times. Mind you, my comments have absolutely nothing to do with the substance of any of the positions of any of the politicians—right, left, or center—and I want to make that perfectly clear. My concern is with the rhetoric. It is with the attitude behind the rhetoric that simply ignores facts, makes up other facts, and crafts accusations and personal attacks that calls people liars and cheats. We have seen that so much in the political primaries this year ... the rhetoric has become, in my view, unacceptable. In terms of the Postal Service, the staff on the Hill that handled postal matters for years and understood the Postal Service, the system, the mailing industry and the economics of the postal sphere is gone. The key stalwarts among members of the House and Senate who knew and understood postal affairs and the economics of the system are gone. Replacing them are staff and members, some of whom—deep down—actually believe the rhetoric that the Postal Service has spouted over the last few years, and have concluded that the Postal Service is finished.
The LEAGUE: The Education Organization

Indeed, a few of those felt that Postal Service was finished years ago and all that is happening now is simply a death watch. In their mind, the Postal Service is going to die either now or later. All these individuals want to do now is pull as much money out of the system as they can to cover future pension and benefit liabilities, with no thought of service, customer needs, or maintaining and growing postal volumes and revenues. I certainly do not wish to suggest that all the staff on the Hill is like this, but some in key positions are—and it is hurting us. These individuals sometimes say the right things but I don’t think they have faith in what they are saying. They can’t Legislative seem to fathom how a Postal Service of Counsel any size could exist in the 21st century age of electronics. Moreover—and this is Bob Brinkmann robert.brinkmann where the politics comes in—in this age of political polarization and the great de- @rjbrinkmann.com emphasis on facts and truth, they and their bosses are not willing to take the time and political risk involved in conducting the factual inquiry necessary to really find out how that could happen. It is important to understand that this view is due more to a lack of vision rather than to any firm grasp of the postal market, the future, or of the economics of cost and lift in the direct mail business. I know the market and I know mailers. I’ve dealt with them as an attorney and postal consultant for over 30 years, in a variety of industries and with more than six different trade associations that deal with marketing, advertising and mail. I know the strength of the postal product and the future doesn’t have to be that bleak, even when bill payments and bill presentations disappear. There is plenty of room for a healthy Postal Service, and one of considerable size—perhaps not quite as big as it was in the past, but even that remains to be seen. This is a very tough thing to say and an even tougher one to write, but it needs be said. You need to know that the next several months are critical. I just received one email from a retired Postmaster who told me that he thinks that the Continued on page 12
Postmasters ADVOCATE April •

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Postal Service is doing more harm than good with its cry of wolf, and he is afraid that while the Postal Service has successfully used that tactic in the past, just like the little boy who cried wolf one time too many, this time is could end with tragic consequences. That is possible. Your future, and that of the Postal Service, depends upon the pessimism, negativism and cynicism about the Postal Service that permeates the Hill not winning the day. The only thing standing between you and what will happen if that view wins the day are groups like the LEAGUE. You need to support the LEAGUE and others more than ever. We have won some great battles in the last year. Yet the war is far from over. There are many battles yet to come and, while I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, we stand between you and destruction. We need to get Congress back to the point where it really looks at facts, explores the facts, and considers the facts. We need to get back to the point where views are formed by people who know what they are doing, and don’t rely on bureaucrats who sit behind the scene, in rooms with computer programs and numbers. You know the type, those consultants and technicians that make recommendations about people, communities and markets that they have never seen, nor explored, and really don’t understand. This is not a partisan statement. Believe me, the blame falls on both sides of the political spectrum. The conservatives who now control the House have done this far too many times, as has the White House. The truth of the matter is that few, if any, people making decisions about postal matters either on Capitol Hill or at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have any idea what they are talking about.
• Postmasters ADVOCATE April

The Plight of the Postmaster

We need to get Congress back to the point where it really looks at facts, explores the facts, and considers the facts. We need to get back to the point where views are formed by people who know what they are doing, and don’t rely on bureaucrats who sit behind the scene, in rooms with computer programs and numbers.

The LEAGUE and other groups, through the efforts of hundreds of you, have brought the issues to the policy makers in a reasonable, simple, welldeveloped way. The Senate has listened to some degree, but neither leadership in the House of Representatives nor the White House really have. The House has not tried to listen because it is afraid the facts might get in the way of its predetermined ideological positions and decisions, and its efforts to change the name of the person who sits in the White House. The White House has not listened because they are afraid that if they listen to “lobbyists,” they somehow will be morally polluted. Because of this attitude, this White House is operating on many complex domestic issues from a position of ignorance that far exceeds other administrations, either Republican or Democrat. Its misfeasance in this respect is perhaps even greater than that of the House. And that is saying a lot. Times like these simply require more intensity, persistence and perseverance. They call for all to work together. We need to play even harder, tougher and smarter. In times like these, you can do several things. First, the best thing you can do is support the LEAGUE in every way you can. You need to support the LEAGUE with your time, your effort and, particularly, with your checkbook. Some of what we do is very expensive. For instance, the LEAGUE just recently litigated the Retail Access and Optimization case at the Postal Regulatory Commission. Complex litigation such as this takes hundreds of hours of attorney time and tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. The LEAGUE had never done anything like this before, and we ended up being one of the lead parties in the case, and filed briefs and made arguments that were far more thorough, complex and effective than
The LEAGUE: The Education Organization

most of the other parties. Indeed, the Postal Service clearly thought our efforts were the most damaging to its case, for it devoted most of its attention in cross-examination of our two witnesses. Our efforts in that case— and in the complaint that the LEAGUE and NAPUS filed at the Postal Regulatory Commission— were probably the most important things that the LEAGUE has done for you in decades. We put our money where our mouth was, stood up to the desperate attempts of the Postal Service to reduce its postal network, and spread the truth of what was happening far and wide. We stood head-to-head—and we won! The result of that case was not only a most favorable decision from the Postal Regulatory Commission, but a much broader understanding out in America about what was going really going on. In addition to the RAOI, the complaint which the LEAGUE and NAPUS filed at the PRC had a profound effect on the dynamic of all these issues. As you know, the commission refused to get to the merits of the matter twice, pushing it off by using excuses of judiciability and ripeness to keep postponing the matter. The substance of the complaint remains, to this very day, undecided. Yet the very fact that the case is sitting there, and that the LEAGUE and NAPUS took the time, effort and funds to push the matter to the commission in one of the first major complaints filed at the commission, is significant. Indeed, the case and the thorough airing of the legislative history that accompanied it has had a profound impact on the Postal Service, the PRC and the Congress. The Postal Service knows, deep down, that they are in trouble if and when the PRC hears the issues—and that fact has significantly changed their behavior. The effects of both of those proceedings (the complaint and the RAOI), along with the great work
The LEAGUE: The Education Organization

The war is not won, but things look much better than they did a year ago.This should show all the naysayers out there—and we heard from many of them last year—that you can change things here in Washington, even in these polarized times if you try hard, play smart, be tough and don’t give up.

that hundreds of you have done in awakening your communities to the dangers of the time, have reversed the dynamic on the Hill about closing small rural post offices. The war is not won, but things look much better than they did a year ago. This should show all the naysayers out there— and we heard from many of them last year—that you can change things here in Washington, even in these polarized times if you try hard, play smart, be tough, and don’t give up. It does not happen overnight, but it can happen. However, it takes resources to try hard and play smart—not only financial resources, but human resources. We need your checkbook, and we need your effort and your time. If you don’t participate, we might not win. It’s that simple. We may need to file another lawsuit or a complaint in the future, or go to a Federal Appellate Court. Who knows. For that, we need financial resources. We clearly will have to go back to the Hill. For that, we need you. You cannot just sit back, do nothing, and let those guys in Washington handle it. That is not how it works. Your staff in Washington is like a conductor of a symphony orchestra. The conductor can direct. He can call for one section or another to come in and out. He can control the tempo and manage the dynamics, but he does not play any instrument, and doesn’t “make” any music. We are the conductor. You are the orchestra. We need you to make your music and we need you to allow us to conduct how, when, and where you do so. No musicians, no music. It’s that simple. You need to help yourself, and help us help you. You need to support the LEAGUE more than you have ever supported it in the past, both financially and with your time and effort. If you do, we will prevail. If you do not, then things could get tough. Your future and the future of the Postal Service is at stake. •
Postmasters ADVOCATE April •

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