The following is a perspective by postal commentator Gene Del Polito. The views expressed are solely the author's.

America's postal system. It's enough to make you weep. What we see today is a vital element of the nation's economic infrastructure being trucked on down the road to collapse. Infrastructure services, by their very nature, are supposed to be reliable and predictable parts of the nation's engine of economic development. They are not supposed to be fraught with fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). Yet FUD is an apt characterization of how many mail-related businesses feel about today's Postal Service.

A key principle underlying the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act
(PAEA) was that the nation's mail system would be operated as a reliable and predictable engine of commerce. Mail pricing changes would happen regularly and would happen only once a year. They would happen at the same time every year, and they always would reflect changes no greater than the cumulative annual increase in the consumer price index.

But, instead of predictability and certainty, the Postal Service has proposed raising rates not only out of time but also at rates that have nothing to do with cumulative inflation changes. Instead of functioning well and transparently, the Postal Service has been disruptive, argumentative, and down-right hostile to the best business interests of its customers. Instead of focusing on how to best serve the nation's mail-related businesses in the least costly and most efficient manner, it has focused its time, energy, and money on addressing its own internal organizational and political concerns with very little regard as the impact this has on the welfare of its customers.

Here we are on the cusp of what should be the heaviest mailing season -- the season leading up to the Christmas holidays. Here is the time when mailers should be investing heavily in promotions that can produce heightened consumer interest and retail purchases. But, unfortunately, what we have, because of the manner in which this postal system is being operated, are businesses that are wondering whether it .makes any sense to remain committed to mail as a primary means for promoting and conducting commerce.

The prospect of a greater-than-inflation exigent increase is hanging over businesses' heads like a sword of Damocles. The worry is whether the sword will drop, and on whose head it will fall. This kind of uncertainty is paralyzing.

Businesses are wondering whether they can trust that the Postal Service will remain a dependable business partner. They are wondering whether they can trust that the Governors of the Postal Service truly understand that the purpose for the nation's postal system is to facilitate, rather than to frustrate, the transaction of communication and commerce. They are wondering whether they can trust the postal regulator to understand fully that while the continuing uncertainties of this exigency proceeding might be high drama in Washington, it's being seen by businesses as a tragedy that saps the nation's economic vitality.

America. The bulwark of free-market economics and capitalism being hamstrung by a postal system that is functioning with all of the certainty of some third-world utility. It's not only enough to make you weep; it's pathetic. It's high time something happen to bring about some very much needed change. And whatever change there might has darn well be for the better.