Deregulation

Mailmen's Malaise

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Reeling from slow delivery rates and foreign and domestic anthrax threats that have cost more than one worker his life, the United States Postal Service has now come under attack by the General Accounting Office and angry customers who don't want to pay the three-penny first-class price hike set to go into effect on June 30.

The two major causes of the mailmen's malaise are the decline in shipping after 9/11 and longstanding rotten management. But other considerations factor in, including the paranoid mindset of the whole postal system and its occasional willingness to harass innocent private mailbox providers and invoke archaic laws to fine competitors.

In the last several years the post office has attempted to stem the flow of red ink by issuing a series of groovy new stamps and by trying to embrace the Internet. They've even added electronic payments capabilities. But the question remains: Who's going to trust an online service from the folks whose offline counterpart is universally known as "snail mail"?