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A New Threat To Progressive Speech

A surprising new threat to freedom of expression and progressive speech will come this Monday when the United States Postal Service enacts new publication mailing rate hikes that give preference to the large corporate owned media held by Time Warner, Hearst Publications and other large corporations, but will hit smaller circulation publications with a huge 30% rate increase.

Many progressive publications deal with a smaller circle of subscribers than the corporate media, although some publications such as THE NATION are nearly as old as the Abraham Lincoln Administration. Yet the power of the huge corporate owned media to lobby or influence special postal rates are like so many other areas where the corporate world can lobby for special rights within the American government. Smaller businesses are always at a disadvantage in this sort of relationship where largely corporate lobbyists now outnumber members of Congress by as much as a 66 to 1 margin.

One organization fighting for the rights of the small media is www.freepress.net which is run by Campaign Director, Tim Karr. However, this is probably an extreme uphill battle for the smaller and alternative media. Without the circulation figures available to fund their own corporate lobby efforts to match those of Time Warner, Hearst, and other large print media outlets, smaller progressive and alternative media publications are simply placed at an disadvantage.

This postal rate hike issue is like so many more issues where the smaller entities cannot democratically complete in the marketplace of ideas like the larger entities can. Toyota for example has found that as their marketplace power grows, their ability to influence legislation also grows in Washington. China has found out that as their share of Federal Treasury Bonds soars up to $416.2 billion dollars in February 2007, they can effectively influence trade legislation and keep the door open against fair and reasonable trade barriers that would impose any further roadblocks to their flood of low priced and low wage products that are flooding the U.S. marketplace and sweeping away American manufacturing jobs while only worsening the trade deficit

The marketplace of ideas is losing ground to an increasingly nondemocratic environment in which only the larger media is able to fund the lobby efforts required to maintain speech for themselves. Monday's postal hike increases leave the smaller and alternative media outlets in a much weaker position than they were only days before. If you have the money you have a voice; if you don't have the money, your voice is limited.

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Comments (7)



You mean people still get their news by MAIL?

Not really "progressive," then, are they?

And the Big Media get their discount just in time to mail their "Going Out of Business" sales flyers.


How much did 'The Man' charge you for this item in the 'market place of ideas'?

Paul Hamilton:

I don't see it so much as a threat to progressive speech as it is just one more concession to big corporations and one more attempt to consolidate power into the hands of the wealthy by an administration which has made that their battle cry from day one.


"I don't see it so much as a threat to progressive speech as it is just one more concession to big corporations"

Fair enough, any niche publication on the right would have the same problem.

People who buy in bulk usually get a discount.


So the threat to "progressive" speech is that you have to pay postage? Waaaaaah!!!! Is this a joke?

Postage adds a substantial fee to smaller circulation publications that are too small to qualify for huge bulk rate mailing deals from the USPS. For example the very small circulation progressive news and commentary publication, THE NATION, has an yearly subscription rate set at $129.00 for 47 issues. By comparison, the huge corporate media publication, TIME, is able to get such huge postage breaks from the USPS that they can offer deals as low as $29 for a one year subscription. When an additional $100 is added to the cost of publication, it certainly will not sell as well in the marketplace and only limit the circulation of that publication.

The USPS does allow some special low postage rates for items such as books called Media Mail. However, offering an overall low rate for publications to enlighten and enrich the American public should be a goal of the regulators of the postal system. It was never intended that excessive postal fees should act as a roadblock to the circulation of minority speech by the Founding Fathers. Democracy for free speech begins with all publications having an equal opportunity for distribtion in the marketplace, not just those powerful enough to negotiate special rates to enhance both the distribution and dissemination for certain opinions.

Steve Crickmore:

Paul, it's rare that I send a letter by snail mail anywhere these days, but you raise a important political dimension, to this issue that the usually very political Kevin Drum neglects entirely in his thread on the new postal rates


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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