Time To Get Realistic About The Postal Service

Let’s face it — the Postal Service, as we know it, is doomed.  How many people write letters anymore?  How many people under the age of 30 have ever even received a handwritten letter?

The U.S. Postal Service lost $2.2 billion in the first quarter of this year$2.2 billion!  Why?  There are at least three reasons.  First, usage has declined dramatically.  More people now communicate primarily by text or email.  The post is used largely for commercial mail, and even that usage has declined in the face of the recession and the decided economic advantages of relying on electronic rather than paper-and-stamp missives.  Second, postal delivery is highly labor-intensive, and gas-intensive, when electronic mail is neither.  And there isn’t much the Postal Service, in its current form, can do to change that fact.  You can only squeeze so much efficiency out of an approach that requires a guy on a truck to physically deliver junk mail to every stop on his route.  And third, the Postal Service is blessed with congressional oversight, which makes closing unprofitable outposts in small towns a political tug-of-war and has kept the Postal Service from achieving savings by eliminating unprofitable Saturday delivery.

The Postal Service has long been a dinosaur; now it has become a fossil.  Any rational person knows this.  If Congress and the President are serious about getting rid of deficit spending, our subsidies of the Postal Service seem like a good place to start.  Let’s stop them, and let the Postal Service do what it thinks it must to be competitive.  If it fails, so be it.  If we can’t sacrifice Saturday delivery of junk mail and bills in order to get our “fiscal house in order,” we’ll never be serious about cutting spending and balancing the budget.

Fear Of August (VI)

In addition to the increased attention to town hall meetings (which historically have been pretty sparsely attended) in this August of angst, there also has been a spike in e-mail traffic to Members of Congress, so much so that the House of Representatives website has been affected.  There is no way to know precisely what the e-mails are about, but the speculation is that health care reform is the principal topic being addressed — and constituents typically don’t write their Congressman to say thank you for a job well done.

In the meantime, there are signs that the public reaction may have given pause to Members of Congress.  This report, for example, says two newly elected Members are rethinking their positions.

The Perils of E-Mail

This story — http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Youre-Out-Youre-In-No-Youre-Out.html?yhp=1 — aptly illustrates why e-mail is a blessing that can be a curse. With the push of a button, you can communicate to dozens, hundreds, thousands of people at once. If the message is a good one, and one you actually want to send, you save time, postage, and paper. If the message is ill-considered or a mistake, you can hurt feelings, incur liability, embarrass yourself, or, as occurred in this story, raise false hopes that must then be crushed. Snail mail may be old-fashioned, but does anyone think that this very unfortunate mistake would not have been caught if paper and postage had been used instead of e-mail?