Newsday rightly noted that the January increase in first-class postal rates won't cure the Postal Service's problems ["Postal Service rate hike won't fix longterm woes," Editorial, Dec. 27]. The Postal Service lost $16 billion in 2012, and the handling of retiree medical benefits adds to the difficulty.

Unmentioned, however, was a blockbuster reason for these continued annual losses. Each day, the mail we receive consists largely of unsolicited advertising, letters from thousands of allegedly nonprofit organizations, many of them asking for money, and an assortment of other junk mail. Postage stamps appear on almost none of this.

Recently, for example, I received a request from a charity in Nome, Alaska, and its envelope had all of 9.2 cents postage on it.

If the rates on first-class postage can be repeatedly raised, why can't rates on the real problem, junk mail, also be raised?

James E. Stubenrauch, Massapequa

Suffolk police salaries 'absurd'

I am absolutely outraged by the absurd salary deal our lawmakers "negotiated" with the Suffolk County police ["Suffolk cops contract spending to rise in 2014," News, Jan. 6].

Aren't unions thought of as left-of-center organizations? They mostly vote Democratic. And don't those who are left-of-center complain about "income inequality?" They are such hypocrites.

They only care about themselves. After 12 years, an officer's base salary will be $117,676, and by 2018 it will be $139,234. Many will make $188,000 with overtime, holiday and night differential pay. What a joke.

Teachers' salaries on Long Island are equally absurd and way out of line with the private sector. Don't get me started on the pensions, which probably double their lifetime income!

What the left-leaning unions are doing is legally stealing from the equally hardworking private sector.

Edward Schwartz, Dix Hills

Don't change law, persuade people

With every new law and regulation, lawmakers employ threats of fines and imprisonment to shape society according to their ideals ["Push to raise smoking age," News, Jan. 8].

Why don't they simply promote information to support their opinions instead, thereby helping people make better decisions for themselves?

More laws don't improve people's lives; they diminish liberty and increase oppression. The real motives of those who use a system of threats, fines and imprisonment to achieve their goals must be questioned. They set a bad example for a society that desires peace and liberty.

Eric Merz, Shirley

McCarthy makes characteristic exit

Whether you agree or disagree with her on the issues, Mineola's Rep. Carolyn McCarthy has deserved the title "the honorable" ["I'm ready to leave," News, Jan. 9].

From the Colin Ferguson shooting on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993, throughout her congressional career and now during her illness, she has been a profile in courage.

Edward B. "Woody" Ryder IV, Greenlawn

Distracted driving could be prevented

Please explain to me why technology can't be installed to prevent texting in a car ["Texting could cost young their licenses," News, Jan. 5].

Why can't we install something and require it to be checked during state inspections? This could save lives.

Joe Assante, Hicksville

Since actions speak louder than words, I'm not satisfied with the tough talk coming from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo about the coming "crackdown" on drunken and/or drugged driving, or on texting while driving.

The number of texting tickets doubled in 2012, according to the State Police. Adults older than 21 could still be convicted of texting while driving, and yet retain their licenses for a mere five-point penalty. Not that suspending or revoking licenses is the "big hammer" that one official claims; Newsday often reports on people driving without valid licenses, sometimes after scores of suspensions and revocations.

Anything short of routinely impounding illegally driven cars, collecting prohibitively expensive fines and jailing dangerous drivers has no deterrent effect. Cars may be designed as vehicles, but too often they have the deadly effect of weapons.

Richard Siegelman, Plainview

'Fire-proof' system isn't a guarantee

A man was killed and his husband critically injured when a fire broke out on the 20th floor of their building on West 43rd Street in Manhattan on Sunday ["Manhattan high-rise fire kills man who tried to flee," News, Jan. 6]. They fled to the stairwell and were overcome by smoke.

Fire officials have said that because of the "fireproof" construction of the high-rise, the two men would likely not have been hurt had they stayed in their apartment.

However, fireproof is a misnomer. Fires can start and spread in buildings with this type of compartmentalized construction. The best protection is a fire sprinkler system.

Russell Fleming, Patterson, N.Y.

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, a trade group.

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