RETHINK THE MAIL MONOPOLY

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Last month, we encouraged U.S. Postal Service management to "rethink the mail monopoly" and fairly confront rivals that want the opportunity to deliver types of advertising mail that are now off limits to them. Since then Postmaster General Marvin Runyon has started to outline what the Postal Service wants before it will consider talking about the monopoly issue. That's at least a start on what we hope will be a fruitful debate on the mail monopoly.

USPS, he says, needs from Congress: a rewrite of its present charter to give it a freer hand with labor relations; a revamped, less adversarial and faster price-setting system; less complicated rules for mail services ("Fed Ex and UPS can offer volume discounts, and do it quickly," he says. "We can't.")

The PMG says he'll fight the idea of simply selling off USPS to private investors, but adds "we have something to talk about" if the Postal Service can be "freed" to be more "business-like and market-driven." Are mailers and alternative delivery companies ready to support more freedom for USPS in exhange for more access to USPS markets?

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