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Ending the Postal Monopoly

September 28, 1985

Contrary to your editorial (Sept. 17), the idea of ending the U.S. Postal Service monopoly in the carriage of first-class mail (letters) is an idea whose time is long overdue and many thoughtful people support Federal Trade Commission Chairman James C. Miller III in his advocacy of it.

I was one of a group of authors who did a major study of the Post Office published in the Southern California Law Review in 1969 and have been an interested observer since. It was obvious then, and still is, that repeal of the law that makes it a crime to compete with the Postal Service would be of great benefit to mail service consumers, to taxpayers and to many little people, including minorities, who would jump at the opportunity to go into the mail messenger business.

Competition in other areas has brought improvements for consumers and in producer efficiency. Airline and trucking deregulation have both caused rate reduction (while fuel costs increased) and improved service. New companies responded to new opportunities to provide truck and air service not only in large markets, but also in small communities that older established companies had not served previously. Competition with the Postal Service has been allowed in the parcel-carrying marketplace, resulting in a number of companies providing superior parcel service at lower cost in more communities than the Postal Service.

Some express concern that private carriers might not serve people living in remote areas. But, who pays the high cost of carrying letters to them now? Their mail service is subsidized partially by taxpayers and partially by people in urban areas where the cost of delivery per letter is much lower than the 22 cents they must pay.

People who prefer to live in remote areas should pay the full cost of their mail service and not be able to burden others with any part of that cost. A competitive, and therefore flexible, letter-carrying marketplace would result in a range of prices, some lower and some higher than the current 22-cent flat rate, taking into account the true cost of service to different categories of mail service users.

Give competition a chance. If it doesn't suit us, we can always return to the inefficient, costly, monopoly Postal Service we all love.

DAVID P. BERGLAND

Costa Mesa

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