Will Industry Silence Continue through November?

By Leo Raymond
In October 16, 2014

In about a month, we Americans will go to the polls to elect officials for national, state, and local office, including one-third of the US Senate and the entire US House of Representatives.

In the intervening weeks, we’ll be pummeled by the candidates’ political advertise-ments telling us what models of wisdom and integrity each is, defending our liberties and way of life, while their respective opponents are the embodiment of venality and greed, kowtowing to special interests. As the crescendo mounts approaching election day, each of us will need to sort through the rhetoric, hyperbole, and political puffery to decide, if not which is the best qualified candidate, which is the least unacceptable.

Closer to home

Both personally and professionally, voters have their particular interests and inclina-tions towards partisan affiliations or liberal or conservative viewpoints. None of those individual perspectives is germane to this publication except one – the one that’s im-portant to every voter whose business or employment depends of the continued vitali-ty and use of hard-copy messages.

Whether from the paper, equipment, list, printing, mailing, supplier, or any other seg-ment, persons working anywhere along the entire hard-copy message supply chain have – or should have – a common concern: the health of the collective industry’s sin-gle most important business partner, the Postal Service, specifically, that entity’s cur-rent tenuous business condition, and the failure of Congress to reach a useful consen-sus on how to stabilize the agency for the long-term future.

As has been pointed out here and in other venues for years, despite its size and finan-cial significance to the US economy, the mailing industry (spanning printing, fulfill-ment, and other services and segments) is largely invisible and, accordingly, lacking in meaningful political clout. Having a few large businesses, each with its own interests, but consisting mostly of medium or small businesses, the industry is not front-of-mind when politicians think about what matters to them: influence, money, and votes.

Sadly, most of the industry tacitly facilitates this invisibility by remaining silent and uninvolved in the political process. While the postal unions are sending in checks and rounding up support for their political allies, the mailing industry – and its clients who pay the USPS’ bills – remain largely detached if not totally disinterested.

Off the dime at last?

Nonetheless, this election cycle can be another opportunity for that to change – the time when members of the greater industry community wake up and begin asking candidates what they plan to do about the Postal Service’s problems. And this can be when those who ask don’t take a dismissive, superficial, or uninformed answer as good enough.

Instead, this season should be when every company – regardless of its place in the supply chain – asks the local candidate to pay a visit, see the work that’s being done, look at the people who work there (and who vote), and understand the economic value the business generates. This should be when that happens, and when the glad-handing, pontificating, empty barrels who only get involved with us at election time get asked direct, specific, tough questions – and aren’t allowed to blame the other party or candidate for Congress’ failure to do something constructive during their term.

It’s time for the industry to put the responsibility for passing meaningful, constructive postal legislation on all of Congress, collectively and individually, and not to let any would-be legislator blame everyone else for inaction. Each member of Congress has a duty to ensure that the entire legislative process works.

Election, or more often re-election, is the fundamental self-interest of those in Con-gress. This time, if any candidate want to be afforded two (or six) more years in office, each, and especially those who win the elections, shouldn’t be allowed to consider it more time for self-aggrandizement, but time to serve those who voted for them, and to be held accountable for what they do or fail to do.

If the mailing industry wants action on postal reform, now is the time to press those whose job it is to pass such legislation, and to let them know that more years of inac-tion would be very bad for their political self-interest. – L Raymond

Leo Raymond

Leo Raymond is Vice President of Postal and Member Relations for Epicomm, based in Alexandria, Virginia. He was formerly the association’s Director of Postal Affairs and served as Interim President from August to November 2008. His duties include support for MFSA members nationwide regarding general postal questions, mailing problems, classification and deficiency cases, and related government issues, and support for MFSA’s educational and chapter-based programs.

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