Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Saturday Mail Delivery Safe for Now. Probably.

Pleas from Postmaster GeneralDespite pleas from the Postmaster General to end Saturday mail delivery—and thus save $3.1 billion next year—the Senate Appropriations Committee has voted to continue Saturday service, leaving the USPS with a staggering $7 billion deficit projected for this year.

Why? What are our august lawmakers, veritable Solons of the Senate, thinking?

Well, like so many things in the Body Politic, it is “us” versus “them.” But this time the sides line up not with Rs over here and Ds over there. No, siree. This time the “us” are the rural ranks and the “them” are the city slickers.

Speaking for “Us,” the good Senator from Montana argued “Unlike urban areas where folks can walk down the block to the local drug store, many Montanans live long distances from the nearest pharmacy or newsstand…Getting mail six-days per week is part of what keeps rural America strong and thriving.”
Rural America Post Offices Not Thriving!
Well, rural America may be strong and thriving, but the post office is not. Not by a long shot. And in this economy, I’m not sure that rural America is doing so great, either. Maybe the Senator should check in with his constituents more often.

Anyway, the USPS has seen its mail volume decline by 20% since 2006, due to the economic downturn (aka the “Great Recession”) and the greater prevalence of electronic media.

According to the USPS’ proposed 5-day-delivery plan, the USPS would stop picking up mail from the blue collection boxes (are there any still in use out there?) on Saturday. Post Offices would remain open, so consumers could purchase stamps, mail parcels, or say hey to the neighbors. And folks with post office boxes would still get their mail on Saturday.

USPS Projects a $7 Billion DeficitFor those who spend their weekends cocooned in their jammies or mall-hopping ‘til exhaustion the change would hardly be noticeable. For those waiting for a check, it could be tough.

But it’s tough to face down a $7 billion deficit, too.

Limiting delivery days is not a new debate. 6-day-a-week delivery was made the law only in 1983. Prior to that date, I distinctly remember getting mail on Sundays. But that could be my aging brain playing tricks on me again.

The country didn’t implode when we lost Sunday delivery, and it is likely that today’s highly resilient rural folk could live without Saturday delivery, too.

But thanks to their guys on Capitol Hill, it seems that our country cousins won’t have to sacrifice for the common good. At least not yet

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