DEAR HARRY: Last week, my boss asked me to take a deposit to our company's bank. This was the first time for me. I became rather curious about the location of our nearest bank. It's about six blocks away. I then became even more curious, and I discovered that we work in a 40-block contiguous area that has no banks at all. For some residents, it's only a short walk outside the area to find one, but for others it's a lot more. I recently saw an article suggesting that we add banking to our postal system so that the residents of every ZIP code would have a nearby financial institution that can handle small loans, bank services and savings accounts. The profits from such an activity would keep the post-office system solvent and set standards for banks. And everyone could have a cheap checking account. Any thoughts?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: The post office already offers money orders for patrons. Until 1967, it also handled postal savings. This was essentially a banking function, so we do have a bit of history on your side. There is little question that the banks avoid many areas in which there is already a functioning post office. Wouldn't it be great if inexpensive debit and credit cards were available everywhere? How about small loans? I'd like to give this system a try. And keep in mind, all you "smaller-government" types, that the postal savings system came about under President William Howard Taft, a Republican.

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