Understanding April 1989
THE PENNY POSTCARD
“Neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night shall stay these brave couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds!”
Among the many fine old American traditions now in the process of going down the drain of history, is the U.S. Postal System. Originating in the young and vigorous years of America’s growth period, it did so well for a number of decades, as to become a widely accepted tradition in its own time. Rates were very low, and service was excellent. For a single penny, one could purchase both the post card itself, and the postage to send a message anywhere in the U.S., Canada, or other places (Of course there was always a small deficit at the end of the year, which had to be made up from public tax funds, but nobody seemed to mind so long as the service retained its excellent quality. Then, suddenly, some less than intelligent public official, had a wonderful idea! All that was necessary to wipe out the annual deficit was to double the price of the postcard, raise the cost of letters from two cents to three, and other postage accordingly! Alas What fools we mortals be! The price was duly raised and, by the end of the year, the deficit was forty percent higher than it had ever been! Then another think-tank came along who said, “The trouble is that we have been giving far too much service. What we need to do is, first, raise the postcard to three cents, the letter to four, and other postage accordingly. Then we cut out all those multiple deliveries in urban areas, cut down the number of pickups from boxes, lay off a few delivery men and let the rest carry more mail. That will do the trick! Accordingly, all of these reforms were instituted, and, by the end of the year, the deficit had doubled. After that, for a number of years, no one seemed to have any more ideas, so the Post Office simply continued to press the old ones. The penny postcard went from three to four, to five and to six cents in a closely spaced series of jumps, the letter rate went from four to five, to six and then to seven during the same period, while all other postal rates escalated proportionately. The quality of the service continued to deteriorate, while the deficit skyrocketed. All of this occurred during the period when inflation had not yet become a handy excuse for every kind of governmental excess, and the postal situation finally began to be of concern to the long suffering public. Studies were made to determine how the system might be repaired. The most complete of these studies, ordered and paid for by the Federal government itself, reported simply that there was no way in which the system could be successfully repaired or reorganized. It was much too far gone for any such action. The only possible solution it said was to junk the staggering colossus entirely, and to begin again with a system controlled by the logic of modern industry, rather than by dogmatic and monopolistic governmental habits. Since there seemed to be no alternative, a group of experts were appointed to design a new U.S. Post Office system. Anyone who knows anything about governmental habits however knows that once government has had its hooks sunk deeply into any public function, it never lets go entirely, so that the net result of all the ‘Experts’ activity was not the new entity which the study had recommended, but only a partial reorganization, which the study had specifically stated could never succeed! Unfortunately, lack of space prevents us from a complete account of the many follies of this, once revered institution. At least four pages would be required to do it justice, but perhaps we have room for one precious nugget. During its second year of operation (and its third increase in postal rates) the Post Office noticed that personal mail had dropped off substantially, owing to the constantly increasing cost of letter posting. Their immediate response was to ask the Federal government for an outright gift of a few millions of taxpayer dollars to put on a propaganda campaign aimed at causing the public to write more letters! The absolute ridiculousness of such a proposition was so obvious to everyone, except the post office, that the nation roared in laughter or in anger, depending on individual temperaments. It was a humorous situation to some, but a stark indication of total governmental idiocy to others. Eventually the suggestion was dropped.
At the present rate of increase, it will not be long before the historic penny post card bears a price tag of $1.00.
(hand written) Phoning costs less + satisfies more + takes less time! Cleona Q.
Daniel W. Fry
Give to me the patience
The tenderness and caring
Give me understanding
Put in my hands and in my heart
Make my ears, my eyes my thoughts –
That I can only keep my pledge
Life without friendship
a day without sunshine,
My face in the mirror
isn’t wrinkled or drawn,
my House isn’t dusty…
the cobwebs are gone,
my garden looks lovely,
and so does the lawn,
I think I might never
put my glasses back on!
May you be blessed
this beautiful season
I KNOW NOT WHAT I SEEK ETERNALLY
I know not what I seek eternally
on earth, in air, and sky;
i know not what I seek; but it is something
that I have lost, I know not when,
And cannot find, although in dreams invisibly
it dwells in all I touch and see.
Ah, bliss! Never can I recapture you
either on earth, in air, or sky,
Although I know you have reality
and are no futile dream!
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star.
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness
Rosalia de Castro. Translated by Muriel Kittel