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A vital institution, Postal Service should be valued

Jennifer Graham’s opinion piece on the US Postal Service (“Mail fowl,” May 21) omitted important information about this vital institution. In contrast to government mail delivery in many other countries, since the 1970s the Postal Service has been a hybrid institution, both federal and commercial in its organization, and it has been expected to be self-supporting. About half of its current revenues come from corporate business clients and bulk shipping, while it serves local communities and households through its thousands of branch offices.

Its technology for processing and shipping mail keeps improving, and it has been able to compete with UPS and other package services. However, it cannot help but be affected by the overall financial downturn. Reduced by over a third in the last decade, its well-trained, trustworthy workforce still guarantees that the mail gets efficiently delivered.

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During the 2001 anthrax letter attacks, Postal Service workers put their lives on the line to make sure this important economic activity would proceed without disruption. They deserve their pensions.

From shipping packages to soldiers overseas to making sure Social Security checks arrive on time, the Postal Service offers one of the few constants in an economically unstable world.

Jeanne Guillemin

Cambridge

The writer is a senior fellow in the security studies program at MIT, and the author of “American Anthrax.”

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