Snail Mail In Trouble (the USPS, that is)

U.S. Postal Service Faces Bankruptcy, Plans Cuts To Slow Delivery Of First Class Mail

With the death of many newspapers the last several years, most shifting to online news only but some wholly shutting down, it’s not a surprise that the postal system is feeling the hurt of general correspondence and document sending shifting to electronic means.

Side note – I’ve always wondered why stamp prices rise faster than inflation. Here’s the answer: “The Postal Service, an independent agency of government, does not receive tax money”

So… the USPS has been loosing money for five years running. And it is set to go into default to the U.S. Treasury this month. To return to being profitable, it has to cut $20 billion in the next three years. The solutions the Postmaster General is intending to implement will slow mail delivery from 1-3 days for letters and other first class mail to 2-4 days. So even if you live in the same town, your letter won’t reach its destination the next day.

Why? Because just under half the processing centers will be closed by March, so your letter will have to go further to be processed to find out its going near where it came from. And because there will be about 100,000 less mail carriers and almost 3,700 less local post offices nationwide, it’ll take longer for your letter to get to the processing center and get back. What about local post offices that have a separate drop box for in town mail? I have no idea.

But they have to do something. As a for profit business, they are subject to all the same problems as any other business. The bigger problem for the U.S. public though is what if the USPS does go under? “In the event of a shutdown due to bankruptcy, private companies such as FedEx and UPS could handle a small portion of the material the post office moves, but they do not go everywhere.”

However, “… the planned cuts could test the limits of the Postal Service’s legal obligation to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform price and quality.” No private companies want to take up that legal mantle, and you can’t really blame them. But I’m also wondering about that legal requirement. Does that mean the government will have to start subsidizing the USPS like it does Amtrak? And if so, why aren’t then invoking that support net?

In addition to the above plans, the USPS wants “… to reduce delivery to five days a week, raise stamp prices, and reduce health care and other labor costs.”

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