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Faster U.S. mail for some

By Dallas Pierce
web posted February 13, 2006

Anthrax letterPlaying off the anticipated success of the "Registered Traveler" program, and owing to a dramatic post-911 increase in amount of mail that must be screened for explosives and toxic substances, U.S. Postal Authorities today announced the advent of a "Registered Mailer" Program. 

The so-called "Registered Mailer" program is designed to allow those who have submitted personal information and been fingerprinted to get their mail "up to 1 day sooner" than those who have not.  The yearly fee in a current test program is $80 per participant. 

The U.S. Postal Service believes that by pre-clearing certain individual's mailings based on information they've shared, and subsequent background checks, they can increase the effectiveness of their screening systems by focusing limited resources on more thoroughly screening parcels belonging to those for whom they have no information.

The program would be voluntary, the choice to participate being up to those that want to participate.  In addition, individual Post Offices could decide against participating in the program.

"The average amount of time it [take] to send most stuff through our [Roanoke Regional Sorting] Facility [be] about a week and half," said spokesperson Sherry Seedaline, "…saving a day make a big difference to some folk."

Some frequent mailers eagerly await the program.  Willie Stroker, a self-described "executary" at the offices of a restaurant chain based in Roanoke, VA, who mails almost 4 medium-sized nondescript packages a year said, "I would pay my own money if I knew they [government] wasn't going to be all up in my packages … that's how much I like faster mail!"

Critics point out that the program is just another example of the government taxing the American people for services they should be performing our of general tax revenues. Where does the government stop in trying to double-tax America citizens? Asked tax protest group "We the People" founder Helen Wait. However, an unnamed Postal official was quoted as putting it coldly; "Hey, you wanna maybe get your mail a day earlier, or not? No one's holding a gun to your head."

But holding a gun to your head maybe exactly what's in store for some, as voters in the city of San Francisco only narrowly defeated a referendum to charge residents an upfront fee for emergency response services, in a recently defeated "Registered Persons" initiative. Registered Persons started as an ambitious attempt by local activists to pre-register homeless residents so as to more efficiently deliver the vast array of city services to increasingly large numbers of homeless that can be difficult to locate on a consistent basis (the initiative called for the electronic tagging of homeless persons).

The initiative ran aground when it was expanded to include children under the age of 12, the elderly, and those that voted Republican in the last election cycle.

Dallas Pierce can be reached at dallaspierce@aol.com. (c) 2006

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