Regular next-day delivery of the mail has been a part of urban life in the English-speaking world for the last 200 years. No more in the US, apparently; crushed under huge pension burdens, overstaffing, poor business decisions, senseless congressional mandates and competition like email and text messaging, the USPS is giving up overnight first-class mail. As the AP reports:
Facing bankruptcy, the U.S. Postal Service is pushing ahead with unprecedented cuts to first-class mail next spring that will slow delivery and, for the first time in 40 years, eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day.The estimated $3 billion in reductions, to be announced in broader detail on Monday, are part of a wide-ranging effort by the cash-strapped Postal Service to quickly trim costs, seeing no immediate help from Congress.
This is pathetic, really. The Victorians were able to handle next-day mail without any kind of automation at all — and for one penny a stamp. Even in my childhood, a first-class letter cost three cents to mail, a postcard two cents. Many places had two mail deliveries a day. Rising costs and declining service have been the hallmark of the USPS for a very long time now. Unless something changes quickly, it is death spiral time.The death of the USPS, tragic though it would be for employees, is not the worst that could happen, though, given e-alternatives. Americans will be able to communicate with each other with or without the first class mail. But anything organized by Benjamin Franklin deserves our respect.