TAKING A LICKING...

                                                       "He who can lick can bite."                                                                French Proverb
 Well...it's that time again.  Last week's announcement has come to pass and regular postage has increased...again... Have you considered what it costs to mail a letter now?  How about several letters or bills?  At this rate, in a few decades it might be more cost-effective to communicate by telepathy.
 What the postage increase really means is that, in effect, it will become a little more difficult for people to afford to communicate with each other. Or another way of looking at it: Communication will become a slightly more precious commodity. As someone who is frequently charged with the responsibility of promoting effective communication among people, I could hardly remain silent on this issue.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o /> We already have enough factors in our society that hamper effective communication, including: (1) Language violations, (2) Language violators (i.e., spouses-at-war), (3) Cumbersome bureaucratic procedures.  For example, banks, post-offices and other municipal businesses, that feature the "long single-line"; this, irrespective of how many other workers are at a particular service counter.  Then there is "select-a-form" mailing (without instructions) that allows you the opportunity to make educated guesses about procedures that were formerly the task of the employees in that situation, and finally, (4) Ambiguous signs. Such as exist all over city streets.
 Once, in a New York City restaurant, I saw a sign that reads, "For bathroom, please use staircase." In the window of a local post office there is displayed, "No dogs allowed...except those leading blind persons" (think about it!). Now, despite all of these hindrances, effective communication will once again be encumbered.
 Actually, this state of affairs is not unusual from an economic standpoint. The problem is that, like the dollar, "postage" as an entity is becoming a hallmark of the American way-of-life: Its intrinsic value is shrinking in proportion to the goods and services it will buy. Can you imagine listening to the radio some time in the near future and hearing, "In overseas trading this morning, the American stamp took a licking...?"
 In fact, the size of a stamp, at times, decreases, as its value increases.  I once purchased a stamp so small you needed a magnifying glass to read the print.  I remember a 13-cent stamp, so large you might have been tempted to lick the envelope and place it in the upper right corner of the stamp! A comforting thought about this is that things can still get worse; but that's nothing to write home about. However, on the lighter side, to commemorate this issue, I offer a possible scenario from the future:  The Year 3000...
 City Bank Representative (B): " Good day, sir. May I help you?"
Customer (C): "Yes. I would like a loan in the amount of ten thousand dollars."
(B): "I see, and may I ask the nature of the purchase you will be making?"
(C): "I wish to purchase a stamp so I can write my mother in Phoenix."
(B): "What a lovely gesture. New or used?"
(C): "New. I need for it to get there before the end of the month."
(B): "Ah! Have you any previous credit with our bank?"
(C): "Yes. I financed a stamp three years ago to pay an electric bill."
(B): "What can you offer for collateral?"
(C): "Well...would my house and two cars be sufficient?"
(B): "I suppose. But with those assets, why do you need to borrow money for postage?"
(C): "Are you kidding? With the rising cost of living, who has extra money for luxury items?!"
(B): "True. Nevertheless, we will need a completed application and verification of your employment. The current interest rate is 40% and the term is twelve months. Are you still interested?"
(C): "Of course. On my income, I can't exactly afford to make telephone calls!"...
 What can you do about this state of affairs? You could speak up, but to whom? When it falls on deaf ears, verbal behavior becomes "just a lot of talk." Or you could write your congressman, but even if that could help, it's becoming expensive (remember the Pony Express? Slow, but cheap).
 Thus, rather than cutting off communication, I suggest you consider this just another increased expenditure in your life and write-on!  After all, a letter from a loved-one is the next...next-best thing to being there!