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Modernizing the Post Office

August 01, 1988

After a 25 year postal veteran, I read with more than casual interest Assistant Postmaster General Frank S. Johnson Jr.'s letter (July 11) criticizing Daniel S. Greenberg's column (June 22) which said the U.S. Postal Service is medieval and in need of modernization.

In my opinion, both Johnson and Greenberg are right in what they claim but only to a limited degree.

As Johnson stated in his letter, the postal service has modernized the processing of mail during the last few years with the addition of such highly technical devices as various types of computers, optical character readers and other electronic machines. A short time ago, clerks were only able to process some 10,000 letters per hour by mechanization. Today, they are able to sort a much greater volume of mail at a greater rate of speed.

In addition, the window service has been partially computerized enabling the clerks to handle a larger amount of incoming mail.

Such complicated machines as the automated postal mailing station, which allows a patron to mail anything from a letter to a 35-pound package, are now being introduced into the system to speed up the servicing of mail.

While all this appears impressive, the nitty-gritty of the postal service--the delivery process--has not been improved for decades and it is still back in the 18th Century.

If Benjamin Franklin, our first postmaster, would return from the past and become a letter carrier, he would feel quite at home. In this respect, Greenberg is correct when he declared that the postal service is medieval.

Currently, all mail prior to home delivery has to be processed by hand as to street and residential address by carriers. This procedure is ancient, very time consuming, and extremely tedious.

Unless this procedure is updated through the use of computers or other electronic devices and the delivery service restructured, the postal service will drown as a result of a constantly increasing volume of mail. The American people and businesses will be the poorer because a major line of communication will be destroyed.

JESSE LEVINE

North Hollywood

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