Letters to the Editor for Nov. 27, 2012

Proud of WHS students

I attended the Washougal High School Holiday Bazaar Nov. 17. It was great to see the different student groups participating. From students manning the Stuff the Bus table to the choir’s wonderful music to the Interact Club’s goodie table with the proceeds going to Uganda to even middle school students raising money for their basketball team. It was a great time shopping.

Our community can be especially proud of this; as I was waiting in my car for my son to come out of basketball practice, people were leaving the school after the bazaar ended. A man in a motorized wheelchair was leaving to get on the C-tran bus waiting for him. He over shot the curb and tumbled forward out of his chair.

Who came to help him? Students nearby! No adults needing to ask them to come over the help, they just ran over and lifted the man back up. Even the bus driver just stood there.

I didn’t recognize any of the students so I don’t know their names, but I was just really proud of them and I wanted to share this.

Jennifer Campen, Washougal

USPS should consider new postal classification

On Nov. 15, 2012, the United States Postal Service announced it lost $15.9 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, over three times the fiscal loss of $5.1 billion for the previous year. Here’s a suggestion that might help reduce the gap between revenues and expenses.

I suggest that the postal service should change the weight of the standard letter from one ounce (about 28 grams) to three quarters of an ounce (about 21 grams). This may sound like a trivial change, but it could have enormous benefits, especially because of the unintended consequences of the one-ounce weight limit for the standard letter.

Companies that print paper bills could conduct all their necessary business with an inner envelope, a return envelope, and the bill itself, together weighing less than three quarters of an ounce. But because the full-ounce postage is the smallest rate businesses can purchase, most feel compelled to include an additional piece of paper with advertising or information. If they don’t send that flyer or newsletter, they’re paying for something but receiving no benefit for the expense.

What if businesses had an incentive to limit this practice? What if the postal service defined a new postage rate class for letters weighing three-fourths of an ounce (about 21 grams) instead of a full ounce? The postal aservice accountants can figure out how much less to charge so they retain some of the savings, but we would all benefit from this change. Here’s why:

According to the USPS, over 73 billion first class envelopes were delivered in fiscal 2011. That much mail weighed over 4.2 billion pounds. If half of these letters had contained one fewer pieces of paper, nearly 425 million fewer pounds of wood fiber would have been consumed. If it takes 15 trees to produce a ton of paper, that works out to 3.1 million trees. How many acres of forest land would that cover? But it doesn’t stop there.

Manufacturing that much paper uses 5.1 billion gallons of water (Allied Waste Company) and 1,328 gigawatts of electricity (www.recycling-revolution.com]. And that’s for clean white paper. How much energy goes into printing that many pieces of paper? How much ink does that take? Then, how much of that paper is almost immediately thrown in the recycling bin? How much of it becomes litter in the streets and streams? How much fuel was burned to move that much freight around? The elimination of that cost would be a direct savings to the postal service.

This is not a new idea. Between 1799 and 1815, postal rates were based on the number of sheets being sent. And in 1847, the United States Postal Service had different rates for half-ounce and full-ounce letters (“The United States Postal Service; An American History 1775 – 2002”). I’m merely advocating a nod in that direction.

This simple change could have enormous financial and environmental benefits. No essential services would be eliminated. And it wouldn’t inconvenience anyone (except copywriters and ink and paper purveyors).

John R. Dunn, Camas