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Peace, Safety, Chalk and Stamps
by Knight Allen, Director of Legislation
Originally published on Oct 10, 2013 - reprinted with permission

    Let’s start with International news. Anyone want to nominate Vladimir Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize? Maybe Time magazine can put him on its cover as the “Man of the Year" After all, didn’t he save a stumbling, bumbling American leadership from setting off a who—knows—what scenario? Of course there will be a small price to pay. Assad is Putin’s man and neither one of them objects to using conventional weapons to maintain their power. Assad will probably be in control of Syria long after the chemical weapons situation in resolved - whenever that may be, if at all.

    An AP article reported on one of the costs of the NSA’s spying . . . er, excuse me, security system. The telephone companies supplying the information “requested” by the NSA get paid to do it. For example, AT&T has one hundred people on staff to handle the requests. Verizon has seventy people operating 24/7 handling over 250,000 requests every year. Between 2007 and 2011 AT&T received $24 million and Verizon received $15—$25 million. It’s too bad we can’t quantify and put into numbers how much privacy and freedom we’ve lost in our fruitless quest for safety. Ben Franklin was right: Trade freedom for safety? Wind up with neither.

    Speaking of freedom under attack, what did you think of the Police/DA actions taken against the sidewalk graffiti protesters? Were you pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support the “chalkers” received? Was that tempered some by the chilling comments by DA Wolfson when he dropped the charges? “There wasn’t expressed permission but there was implied permission . . .”
Permission? What permission? That was political speech in its purist form and no permission, expressed or implied was necessary. We should be glad public pressure forced Metro and the DA to back off but the mindset is an example of how vigilant we must be against the Police State mentality dominant among too many people holding government power.
You have probably read or heard that the Postal Service is seeking an “emergency” rate increase from 46¢ to 49¢ for a stamp. They’re losing billions of dollars a year and in typical government fashion the only way out they can see is to raise their prices or drastically cut back service, including closing post offices and eliminating Saturday delivery. Then they’ll probably raise prices anyway. I got a firsthand lesson in why the Service is in such an economic death spiral. In order to beat the rate increase I went to my local Albertson’s to buy a hundred stamps. I still haven’t used up the 100 I bought back in 2011 at 44¢ but getting them at 46¢ now should carry me through three maybe even four years and who knows what the price of a stamp will be by then. The interesting part came when I was chatting with the young lady at the counter and mentioned the coming rate increase. She said to me, “Boy, I’m glad I don’t use the mail for anything.” She said it so calmly – a simple statement of fact. Here’s a young woman probably in her early to mid twenties, obviously computer savvy and online for everything that could not care less if the Postal Service disappeared tomorrow. I get the feeling she is much more representative of the Postal Service’s future then they want to admit.

Contact Director Knight Allen