If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Neither Snow Nor Sleet Nor… Budget Cuts?

For many years, the United States of America had a public postal system that was the envy of the world. One of the oldest government agencies in the United States, it was established in the U.S. Constitution, and Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster-general, a position that for two centuries was in line for the presidency behind all the others in the Cabinet in case of the President’s death. Our Founding Fathers thought the mail was that important.

A first-class letter leaving Los Angeles would be delivered in New York City three days later—or often sooner. Mail was delivered to each house and business throughout this giant country six days a week. In polls to determine the most trusted figures in daily American life, the letter carrier ranked first year after year, above doctors, lawyers, government figures, bankers, anyone.

In recent years, this has changed. The U.S. Postal Service is no longer a cabinet-level government department since privatization in 1971. The USPS has changed, especially in the last ten years, and in most locations of the country, the letter carrier is no longer most trusted—primarily because the homeowner gets little chance to know his letter carrier, who may well change from day to day.

Now, the USPS intends to close 264 mail processing plants, eliminating 35,000 jobs in a still weak economy, and to close over 3,000 small town and rural post offices in an effort to avoid billion-dollar losses. For example, in the state of Kansas, six mail processing facilities will be consolidated into only one in Wichita. USPS will end next-day and Saturday delivery, end first-class delivery, and raise the price of a first-class stamp from 45 cents to 50 cents. Mail that previously took one day to reach its destination will now take three days. Mail that previously took three days to reach its destination will now take five days.

All of this is extremely bad news for writers and publishers. Especially for aspiring writers who must submit countless query letters and proposals to potential agents and publishers. When you are making no profit—no money, at all—from your writing, you can hardly to afford to use the much more expensive alternatives, such as UPS and FedEx. Yet you must continue to try to get your work out there.

Our Founding Fathers thought a public post office was so important that it’s one of the few governmental departments or branches that is specifically named in the Constitution, so important that they went into debt for it. It remained a priority item for them as the years passed. As the country grew, they made a point of expanding the postal system to correspond to the expansion of settlement throughout the country. Now, the governments we’ve had over the past several decades have seemed bent on destroying this gem with the universal access and universal and timely delivery many other countries have envied and tried to emulate. These new proposed closings and changes will change USPS into something those same Founding Fathers would hardly recognize.

I would encourage everyone to contact your elected Federal officials to register your concerns about these plans. Is there anything else anyone out there can think to do to prevent or change these plans? How do you feel about this situation as the post office winds down into oblivion?


E. B. Davis said...

The 35,000 jobs lost and the demise of this communication system seem contradictory to the current administration's policies. Why give money away to save jobs when there are jobs within the government to save?

However, I don't know the internal structure of the Post Office. It's reorganization maybe more efficient, and private mail services may do the job cheaper. Like most snail mail, is the Post Office a dinosaur? And most writers' queries are electronic now anyway.

Warren Bull said...

In David Brin's THE POSTMAN a man dons the uniform of a postal carrier in a post-apocalyptic America and re-establishes government. The book is excellent. The movie is lousy. Brin would need to find another symbol of dependable government service today.

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, this reorganization is not to make things more efficient, but rather because the Post Office faces a huge deficit from an unfunded mandate passed by Congress in 2006 that requires USPS to prepay 75 years of retirement benefits in 10 years' time.

According to the Senate committee looking into it, "Under the PAEA, USPS is required to make $103.7 billion in payments by 2016 to a fund that will pay for future health benefits of retirees of the next 75 years. This health benefit prefunding mandate covers not only current employees that will retire in the future, but employees yet to be hired who will eventually retire. On top of this, none of the money that the USPS contributes to this fund can be used to pay for current retiree health benefits. So the USPS must make payments for current retirees' health benefits in addition to its required health benefit prepayments for future retirees."

As USPS has attempted to meet this unrealistic burden, it has already cut services at a time when it is faced with serious competition from UPS, FedEx, email, etc. Now, it will have to cut even more. Slower and less frequent delivery is not a way to compete with faster competition.

And there are still many agents, magazines, and print outlets in many genres that require snail-mail submissions of queries and manuscripts from unknown writers.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, Warren, but in the time when Brin wrote that book (excellent, but you're right about the movie), the letter carrier was still the most trusted figure. So the book made sense. I don't know what uniform he'd have to put his hero in now. Who do we trust now?

Carol Robinson said...

I'm a recently retired postmaster that worked the last years of my career in a rural area and so have many strong opinions about what is happening to the Postal Service. The post office I ran was suposed to be closed in December until congress imposed a moratorium. Without that moratorium our already ridiculous "service" would have come to a halt. There was NO plan in place for the delivery of mail. They had a few ideas, but NO PLAN. Thank goodness the Postal Regulatory Commission recognized this and made them take a step back.

But time isn't improving the situation. There is still no plan ready for delivery or for sales. Many, if not most, in this poor rural area have no internet access. Many pay bills with postal money orders. Too bad for them when it all goes away.

As for consolidation, they've been working on it for years and ruining service. The mail from here is taken to a town to the north where it is consolidated with there mail, sent across the state for sorting, and then returned. Long ago, when the world made sense, any mail for the town to the north would have been sorted in that office saving time, transportation, and handling. Now it's all about counting numbers so service isn't even considered.

I could go on all day but I've bored you enough. Your reorganization is not going to be more efficient, it is intended to sacrifice a huge swath of rural America to create a business opportunity for those who already have too much.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Carol, thanks for stopping by. My first husband was a regional executive with USPS before his death, so I'm very aware of what you mention. I've watched the deterioration of the post office over several decades since then. It is supposedly privatized, but when it wants to, Congress exerts control--such as the ridiculous burden to pay retirement health benefits way ahead--and at the same time make demands on it that would not be made on a private company.

In my opinion, we should realize that it's a vital service and fund it accordingly. Take it back into the government as a department and quit trying to be both private company and federal service. We set up governments for the purpose of delivering mail, defending the country against attack, building and maintaining the country's infrastructure, such as roads, and policing against crime--basic services like these.

Ricky Bush said...

Yeah, I just read the news that our mail processing facility is shutting down and now our letters will be sent 90 miles away to Austin to get processed. I KNOW it'll delay things by at least a day.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Ricky, thanks for stopping by. Yes, these moves will slow down delivery--they know that.

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