Rural Progress

Back in the 19th Century the Grange, a sort of farmers union, had the idea that free mail delivery to farmers would improve their lives. Naturally there was opposition. Some argued that it would undercut the private delivery services, others that it would be too expensive. Where have we heard this debate more recently? But farmers were a large majority of the population in those days and have always been better represented in Congress than city folk, so Rural Free Delivery was created in 1896 and the “RFD Route” number became a common component of many addresses.

The same power alignment seems to hold true today. The Postal Service is planning to close a number of post offices since less mail is being sent and less income is available to balance the budget. Naturally it is city post offices that are being closed; never mind that country people are likelier to have cars to get to the post office. The Town of Cornwall in our area rejoices in three post offices to serve a population of just over 1400 – one post office for every 450 people.

And now we can report that while city folk may have to walk or ride further, we – after fifteen years of driving sixteen miles to town and back for the junk mail that fills our box – are having it brought to our door or, more accurately, a box fifty feet away. There are now three houses on our road where once there was one and this tripling of the population has persuaded the post office that it now must come to us. It’s hard to describe in words the thrill of walking out to the mail box and finding the latest flyers from the A & P along with catalogs and a handful of bills.

Yes, you the honest tax payer, are providing this free service for us and no doubt your taxes will need to be increased but you must realize that the three inhabitants who might have had to drive to town daily (48 miles total) would have been consuming at least a couple of gallons of gas a day. Now the mail deliverer adds perhaps three miles to his or her route which means less gas is consumed, the air is less polluted, global warming is cooled, and the world is a better place for all — especially us!

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