No Saturday Mail Deliveries?

Apparently this is not a Washington Monument ploy: the USPS plans to discontinue Saturday delivery.

The Post Office’s money troubles stem from totally unreasonable congressional requirements, not imposed on any private business, that they fund not just current retiree’s pensions or 401(k) contributions for current employees (the private sector standard), nor just current employees’ future pensions, nor just projected future pensions for the next 20-25 years (the standard for most federal agencies), but all future pensions for all future projected retirees in the next 75 years. The idea, I have to presume, is to put the Post Office out of business and privatize its functions — a really bad idea when you consider that we rely on Post Offices to issue passports and to do other critical jobs like distribute medicine in the event of an epidemic.

I predict more credit cards will make bills due on weekends, forcing people to pre-pay, adding to their float.

Speaking selfishly, this makes me happier that I decided finally to stop renewing the Economist on the grounds that its politics were too predictable and its analysis increasingly threadbare. It came Saturday (on good weeks), which made it seem less dated and I had more time to look at it. Getting it on Monday at best will make it even less attractive.

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6 Responses to No Saturday Mail Deliveries?

  1. “we rely on Post Offices to issue passports”

    So what? Plan ahead, outsource it, etc. If a compromise is reached on scaling back deliveries, some of the office may stay open anyway.

    “other critical jobs like distribute medicine in the event of an epidemic”

    When has that ever happened? You don’t think that in an emergency some other solution can’t be figured out, like courthouses, hospitals…even Publix? It’s not logistical rocket science if you plan ahead. Plus see above about compromise, keeping some offices.

    “I predict more credit cards will make bills due on weekends, forcing people to pre-pay, adding to their float.”

    Who pays by mail nowadays anyway? Just schedule your payments on-line, no float!

    And why is the carbon footprint of the post office (and those who use snail instead of email) not fair game for policy choices?

    I agree a complete shut-down is throwing out the baby with the bathwater, but the whole thing is a rotten wasteful mess from top to bottom. Twice a week delivery is more than enough. Downsize into a lean mean bare-necessities machine. Set an example for the rest of government bloat.

    • Not everyone in the US lives in a place with access to high-speed internet.

      Many people cannot afford internet access at home; there may be no free source available either, and even if it is available at (say) the local library, you have to be able to go there while it is open and our access may be fairly brief if there is a lot people who want to use it.

      Lots of people justifiably believe their phones (and even their computers) are not a secure platform for financial transactions.

      Personally, I don’t think the internet is yet reliable enough to be the default choice for important documents. Not to mention the risks of electronic storage: most people don’t back up well.

      • Wouldn’t the money spent on the out-dated post office be better spent on fixing those issues? And none of these arguments rebut a downsizing and reduction in delivery schedule.

        “Not everyone in the US lives in a place with access to high-speed internet.”

        What would it cost to fix that? Aren’t the uncovered areas shrinking? And why should everyone else have to subsidize that choice? What about places that do have access, fiber even?

        “Many people cannot afford internet access at home…”

        Again, is it cheaper to subsidize than to keep a post office running?

        “Lots of people justifiably believe their phones (and even their computers) are not a secure platform for financial transactions.”

        And so what? What is it costing us? And do they need mail delivered every day?

        “Personally, I don’t think the internet is yet reliable enough to be the default choice for important documents. Not to mention the risks of electronic storage: most people don’t back up well.”

        What does this have to do with mail? Print out your emails and PDFs if you feel that way. Banks, financial exchanges, law firms and court filings…all going paperless and postless.

        The PO may never die, but it needs to go on a massive diet.

        • I think you are (intentionally?) missing two key facts:

          1. People pay for most postal services by paying fees (“stamps”). No one makes them. It’s not a tax. That money doesn’t sit in some account magically waiting to be transferred to the rural internet provisions budget.

          2. The Postal Service budget would be OK if the Postal Service were allowed to pay for pensions at the rate private businesses do, or (probably) even like a normal agency does. Congress has tied lead weights around the USPS with this ridiculous budgeting requirement, and that more than anything else (some restrictions on price-setting are perhaps relevant too) is why the USPS budget is in crisis. Thus the reality is not that the USPS needs “a massive diet” but rather it needs “unshackling”. If we’re going to saddle it with these unreasonable requirements, then unsurprisingly it needs subsidies.

  2. “People pay for most postal services by paying fees ”

    That does not mean that those services are profitable, and not subsidized by tax dollars to some extent. Stamps/fees may offset some of the costs, but apparently not all.

    “Congress has tied lead weights around the USPS with this ridiculous budgeting requirement”

    But this was in response to years of deficits, no? The USPS was demonstrably profitable before the requirement? I don’t think so but am open to proof otherwise.

    • Here are some facts. The USPS is and was (ignoring some minor subsidized services like mail to the blind), capable of at least break-even without subsidy but for the false pension bill it has been saddled with, and some other legal restrictions imposed on it.

      The “deficits” are (very much in the main) due not to really losing money but due to the uniquely burdensome accounting imposed on the USPS by Congress.

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