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Modern Postal Service Saves Tax Dollars

Regarding the opinion-page article ``No Stamp of Approval for Postal Rate Hikes,'' April 14: Does the author really believe the Postal Service is somehow magically exempt from the inflationary trends affecting all other agencies, businesses, and individuals?

The Postal Service will have gone a record four years with stable rates when new ones are implemented early in 1995. If the rates had been raised earlier this year, it would have cost the public an additional $8 billion. Since postal reorganization in 1971, no previous rates lasted longer than three years. The reason for the changes is that since 1971 the users of the mail, not the taxpayers, have been supplying postal revenue.

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Sure, the cost of a letter was three cents from 1932 to 1938. What the author doesn't say is that the old Post Office Department lost money every one of those years and needed congressional bailouts using taxpayer funds.

Raising rates is not an obsession but rather an economic fact of life. The Postal Service is now working to make those increases fewer and smaller. The fact that first-class postage is so much less in the US than in Japan and Germany is a reflection of efficiency in the handling of 40 percent of the world's mail.

Although the Postal Service is facing ever-increasing competition, it is not dealing with a ``shrinking pool of customers'' - as its record 171.2 billion pieces of mail handled in fiscal year 1993 can attest.

Some of the author's suggestions are already reality. For example, 40 percent of our stamp production is currently being handled by outside contractors. And managers' salaries are more and more based on the performance of those they manage.

The postmaster general is looking forward to a significant role for the Postal Service in the electronic future while keeping the continued need for hard-copy communication as one of the organization's pillars. The Postal Service will not be put ``out of its misery'' by the ``information highway.'' Instead, it will use the electronic highway to help serve its customers better. Larry M. Speakes, Washington Vice President, Corporate Relations United States Postal Service

Keep temperate forests intact

Regarding the editorial ``World's Wood Resource,'' Feb. 4: The temperate rain forest is one of the rarest ecosystems on earth, and exists in only a few places - the coasts of New Zealand, Patagonia, and western North America (of which the southern two-thirds has been reduced to scattered fragments). The largest intact areas of temperate rain forest remaining in the world are here in Alaska. But since these have not been included in the International Tropical Timber Agreement they will soon be fragmented as well.

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The Forest Service has decided to continue its destruction of the rain forest on Prince of Wales Island and other areas of the Tongass National Forest. This does not make any sense, environmentally or economically. According to a study by Randal O'Toole, the Tongass timber expenses for 1989 were $32 million, and Treasury receipts were $3 million. It gets worse by the year until 1992, when we had Treasury receipts of minus $14 million and Treasury expenses of $45 million. Would you invest in a company with this kind of returns? Well, we each are - it's our taxes that are subsidizing this industry.

Here's my suggestion: Since we are paying money to the Forest Service to subsidize these operations, I would rather just pay all the employees of the Ketchikan Pulp Mill and all the other company people on Prince of Wales Island their salaries and not cut the trees. It's our money being spent one way or another, so why not pay them not to cut? Better yet, let's provide for retraining, education, whatever it takes to help these people make a living and not have to depend on a false economy for their survival. We are asking other countries to do this, and yet we cannot practice what we preach. Karin Holser, Wasilla, Alaska

Money the only motivator?

As an admirer of wolves I have mixed feelings about the opinion-page article ``Home on the Range for Wolves,'' April 14. While I'm happy the wolves' extinction can be delayed under this plan, I'm sad that the bottom line is once again dollars. Do we really have to get paid for doing the right thing? Carolyn Hill, Citrus Heights, Calif.

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