Loyal Nye of Kensington has sent me a familiar clipping from the Jefferson County (Idaho) Star.
It may be as familiar to you as it was to me because similar essays have appeared in many publications.
The Star's version is about a young man who lives in a public housing development. He rides to public school on a free bus over federally funded roads, participates in the free lunch program, plays in state parks, swims in a municipal pool.
Then he goes to the state university and gets a part-time job with the state government to supplement his student loan. After he is graduated, he marries a Public Health Service nurse, buys a farm with an FHA loan and starts a business with a Small Business Administration loan.
When severe winter weather hits, he obtains emergency feed for his cattle from the federal government.State snowplows open the roads so that the feed can be brought to the animals. When the man's wife has a baby, it is delivered in the county hospital.
His parents live on Social Security and old age assistance checks. They are not a financial burden to their son because their mounting health problems are largely paid for by Medicare.
The son's first child augments her education with books from the public library and the touring bookmobile. When she grows up, she gets a government job in Washington. She writes home regularly and her letters are flown from one end of the country to the other for 15 cents by the United States Postal Service. At the age of 4, the youngest child is enrolled in a Head Start program.
Our hero's farm does well because the Department of Agriculture helped him drain his land, the county agent gave him timely advice, and the government paid part of the cost of building a pond and stocking it with fish.
The profits from the farm and the business are deposited in a bank that is supervised by federal officials. The money is safeguarded by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, an agency of the U.S. government.
Occasionally some of the money is invested in good companies whose stock is made even safer because the Securities and Exchange Commission is watching.
Then one day our hero writes a letter to his congressman.
He says, "I wish to protest excessive government spending and high taxes. I believe in rugged individualism and have always made my own way in the world. I am opposed to all socialistic trends and I demand a return to the principles of our Constitution and the basic values on which this country was founded."
The publisher of the Star made an appropriate comment: Everybody is against excessive government spending. What we don't agree on is how much can we spend without being guilty of "excessive" spending, and are we ready to forgo the services and social programs represented by our excessive spending?
If we're determined to reduce spending, whose benefits shall we eliminate first?
Certainly not mine. And perhaps not yours. Maybe we could start with The Other Fellow's.
Yes, of course! What an excellent solution. We'll take it out of The Other Fellow's hide. He's the one who has favored all this excessive spending and he's the one who has brought on the drift toward socialism. TIME MARCHES ON
I shall omit the name of the reader who lodged this complaint because I am about to disagree with him.
A few days ago, Mr. B. put a news clipping into a manila envelope that measured 7 1/2 inches by 10 1/2 inches, put a 15-cent stamp on the envelope, and dropped it into a letter box. Two weeks later, he got it back.
A sticker was attached to the envelope. It said, "Return To Sender." The reason? A 7-cent "nonstandard surcharge." It applies to first-class mail weighing one ounce or less when the envelope measures more than 6 1/8 inches in height or 11 1/2 inches in length.
My correspondent calls the USPS rule "silly, arbitrary and apparently seldom enforced." I don't know about the frequency of enforcement and do not consider it pertinent.If you park alongside a "No Parking" sign eight times and get one ticket, should you complain about how seldom the sign is enforced or be grateful for the seven times you got away with murder?
The attempt to standardize envelope sizes (not too big, not too little) seems to me to be completely justified. Machines can cope with standard sizes at a lower cost than humans can process nonstandard sizes. Those who want special service must be prepared to pay for it.
The lesson here for all of us is that these are hard times for USPS. If we want to avoid delays and keep rates down, we must cooperate with attempts to mechanize and automate postal facilities.