February 07, 2008
Fixing Mail, Helping the Environment, Improving Public Safety ... A No-Brainer Proposal
Posted by Gordon Smith

I just finished shredding today's credit card offers. My family receives an average of about three per day, and they all end up in the shredder.

Flyers from grocery stores, dentists, furnace repairmen, etc. go straight into the round file. No shredding necessary.

Now, I recognize that some people find this sort of mail useful, but I don't. And I am wondering why I can't instruct U.S.P.S. to stop delivering it to my house. I resent the time I spend processing it, I regret all of the wasted paper, and I worry about identity theft. Just take me off the list!

Not surprisingly, I am not the first person to think of this, and there are strategies for reducing junk mail. But shouldn't U.S.P.S. provide one-stop service on my mailbox?

The problem, of course, is that U.S.P.S. has no incentive to stop the flow. Since almost all useful correspondence now happens on the internet, the U.S.P.S. needs junk mail to survive. Last year, Colorado legislator Sara Gagliardi introduced a "no junk mail" bill in the Colorado legislature, but it died in committee. The U.S.P.S. opposed the bill, and in a story from that effort, U.S.P.S. spokesman Al DeSarro is quoted: "This is an infringement on commerce and an infringement on free speech."

Such silliness does not merit a reasoned response, but the Colorado experience suggests that changing this crazy system would require more than one impassioned state legislator. That's why I am willing to vote for the presidential candidate who proclaims, "I look forward to nailing the going out of business sign on the front door of the United States Postal Service."

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