WASHINGTON, February 8, 2013 — Starting in August, the U.S. Postal Service will no longer deliver mail to your door. Everyone is shocked, shocked, shocked.
However, we could see this coming a mile away, if we were paying any attention. But then most people weren’t. They were too busy sliding around the Internet and checking email.
And that’s the whole point, most of us don’t write letters. We dash off poorly written emails instead. And that in turn means we are not buying stamps, spending money badly needed for the post office to survive.
As the Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe explained, “Things change. The Internet is free and you cannot beat free.”
Nor are we sending gifts off to grandma by Priority Mail, preferring to order online or ship “stuff” by Fed Ex or UPS. The dollar drain has been immense.
Last year the post office lost nearly $16 billion and it hopes that by eliminating Saturday service it will save $2 billion annually.
Congress Once Again Is Part of the Problem
Then there is the problem of Congress, which requires the U.S. Postal Service to do something that no corporation, much less a government agency, does: pre-pay retirement benefits at the cost of billions of dollars a year, or $11.1 billion last year, prepaying two years worth of retiree health benefits.
And while the Postal Service is an independent agency, not receiving one dime of taxpayer money for its enterprise, it is Congress that has the final say over most of its operations. Talk about a Catch-22. No wonder the post office is drowning in debt.
The situation is truly dire, no exaggeration, and the Postal Service has tried to stem the dollar drain to no avail, thanks to us not only ordering goods and services online, but paying our bills online.
And I suspect there will be even more of that as the post office tightens its belt.
Just look at some post office facts and you will understand the problem better:
* The postal service has kept the cost of a stamp to 46 cents, even though in England to mail the same letter, it would cost you 96 cents or even $1.67 in Norway.
* Last year 69 billion first class pieces of mail were delivered in the U.S., so if the post office charged you twice what you now pay for a stamp, say 92 cents, that would bring in another $32 billion. But would it? Dollars to donuts most of you would finally learn online banking and skip purchasing stamps.
* In 2002, 752,949 people worked for the post office; today it’s down to 528,458 or 224,491 less employees, a drop of 30%.
Is It Too Late to Save the Postal System?
The Postal service has slashed the number of post offices, mailboxes, and processing centers, even though they have more addresses than ever to deliver mail to.
So how will this decision on mail delivery affect most of us?
While we won’t get mail on Saturdays, the letter carriers will still be making their rounds through sun, sleet and snow, Monday through Friday to homes and businesses. If you have a mailbox at the post office, you will still get your mail on Saturday.
Those post offices that stay open on Saturdays will remain open for business with only packages will be delivered on Saturdays.
That is probably because one of the areas that has shown an increase in revenue is the delivery of packages, up by 14% in the last two years. Meanwhile all other mail services have taken a nose-dive.
The biggest impact of the new rules will be felt by the letter carriers themselves, who will now earn less, and, of course, their union.
Some people in Congress have been thumping their fists on the podium and bemoaning the end of Saturday delivery, but will they do anything about it, like change the onerous pay forward of two years’ of employee health benefits? Or will they continue their kabuki theater and do nothing, once again?
Not surprisingly young people are not particularly bothered by the end of Saturday mail, but not the over 60 crowd, many who remember when there was mail delivery twice a day. Others find Saturday mail a comfort and a convenience. Many experts say mail is going the way of the pony express and that by the end of the century, kids will then be asking, “Mail? What’s that, Ma?”
Is this just the beginning of the end?
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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