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One 'fiscal cliff' could be bridged

Date: 12/17/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

I've been buying and selling a lot of Christmas presents on eBay and I always use the U.S. Postal Service. Why? The price is affordable and the service is reliable. If I'm not at home I only have to go downtown to pick up a package. With FedEx, I have to travel to Connecticut to get a package I missed.

Boy, I hate to get those stickers on my door that warn me that unless I'm home during a window FedEX or UPS choses a package might be sent back to the shipper. What a pain.

I find it frustrating that with all of this talk about the dreaded "fiscal cliff," the problems currently facing the Postal Service aren't getting much traction in the press. Some of the stories I've seen have only pushed the fact the Postal Service has lost money through the growing popularity of paying bills online.

While that is true, the reason that is less frequently reported for the Postal Department's own financial abyss is the yoke put on them by Congress a few years ago to pre-pay the service's retirement plan, which costs it more than $5 billion a year.

If I was a conspiracy theorist – hey, wait a minute, I am a conspiracy theorist! – I would say a Republican-controlled Congress wanted to weaken the Postal Service with legislation that was sure to break its back. What possible reason could there be for that? Perhaps privatization of the Postal Service? Perhaps union-busting?

Here are some interesting facts: the Postal Service receives no tax dollars; it is second largest employer in America with the largest union workforce; and it employs thousands of veterans.

Can the Postal Service be saved? According to a story recently run by CBS, if Congress would allow the service to modify its payments into the retirement account and eliminate Saturday delivery of mail, one "fiscal cliff" could be bridged. Considering that neither step would cost the nation money, one wonders why these two steps couldn't be undertaken quickly.

I do have a couple of theories.


With the Supreme Court agreeing to hear two cases that might provide greater clarity on same sex marriages, I have to ask readers if having marriage equality in Massachusetts has actually changed anything?

I know it has changed the lives of many people who can now marry the people they once called their "partner." I recall, though, there were critics who charged that same sex marriage would somehow affect traditional marriage.

Having been married for almost 34 years and having lived in Springfield for the last 32 years where my wife and I know same sex couples, I'm happy to say that our marriage has not been damaged by the existence of same sex unions.

Now my marriage may be affected by me being a moron. I have a habit of hanging up clothing on any available hook in the house rather than returning them to a closet. I routinely leave a pair of unused shoes in the living room. I forget things constantly. I don't know how to load the dishwasher properly and I'm lousy at laundry.

I should mention that my wife unwittingly married a movie fan boy and she has had to put up with a wide variety of obsessions and behaviors for decades.

Thankfully, I can shop for food, as well as dust and vacuum adequately. These may be my saving graces.

So, if my long-suffering and patient spouse were going to kick me to the curb, she would have plenty of reasons, none of them being any knowledge of same sex couples in the immediate vicinity.

Seriously, what happens between two consenting adults in an exclusive relationship is their business. Same sex marriage should be embraced by anyone who respects personal liberty and civil rights.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.