A dangerous hike

When the cost of a postage stamp went up recently, everybody knew about it. But another postal hike is set to occur that could push thousands of small, independent publications in this country into bankruptcy, and few people are aware of it.

Historically the U.S. Postal Service has offered such publications favorable rates in order to carry out the wishes of the nation’s founders that citizens have full access to information. That may change under new rules adopted earlier this year.

The agency that oversees postal rates, the Postal Regulatory Commission, has rejected a postal rate increase plan offered by the U.S. Postal Service that would have increased mailing costs for all publications by 12 percent—a plan acceptable to small publications. Instead, with little public comment, it has opted for a complex plan proposed by media giant Time Warner that favors large, ad-heavy magazines like People at the expense of smaller publications.

The result could be—and some predict will be—the bankruptcy of many small but vital publications that cannot afford the new rates. Those rates don’t go into effect until July 15, however, so there’s still time to act. To learn more about the issue, and to communicate your opinion to Congress and the Postal Service, go to www.freepress.net and click on “Stop Postal Rate Hikes.”