Bill McAllister's Sept. 19 Outlook article outlined the dismal downward spiral of the U.S. Postal Service.

But there's a clear fix: Congress should end the Postal Service's monopoly and repeal its universal service obligation, which were conceived before the advent of telephones and e-mail. Hardly anyone relies on letters as a primary means of communication anymore.

Consequently, the Postal Service delivers mostly junk mail these days. But while consumers are stuck with hefty first-class prices, big companies get special deals for mailing in bulk. That's why "standard mail," the category used by business mailers, contributes about 45 percent of mail volume but only 25 percent of revenue.

The Postal Service's secret is that Aunt Minnie subsidizes the cor- porations that send us stuff we don't want.



Consumer Postal Council



My 21-year-old son, a Marine Reservist, recently was deployed to Iraq. To ease his burden and to have an outlet for my love and concern, I send him a care package every week -- baby wipes, lip balm, face cream, taped messages, lozenges, socks, reading material, treats and powdered drink mix. Packages to FPO addresses must be sent through the U.S. Postal Service, with the military bearing the cost of transporting packages from the FPO address to their final destination.

Because of that, I expected that FPO addresses would warrant a lower postal rate, but my packages, in the four- to eight-pound range, have cost an average of $14 to ship. While my budget can absorb those costs, many reservists' families have taken a major reduction in income, and the cost of shipping packages to their loved ones could be prohibitive.

I hope a creative and equitable solution can be found to help families who have loved ones in war zones.