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Junking the Mail
Americans Give Thumbs Up to USPS Transformation

The Postal Service has gotten some much-deserved flak over the past few years for its billion dollar deficits and failure to modernize, but most Americans still want it to stick around. According to a new study conducted by the USPS, most Americans continue to support the Postal Service. Unfortunately for the agency, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will actually use it. Of the respondents, less than 50 percent said they would be “significantly affected” if the agency were to disappear entirely within 5 years. More disturbingly, these numbers fell significantly among younger Americans, suggesting that the USPS is becoming increasingly reliant on an older customer base that will shrink as time goes on.

There were, however, some bright spots for the USPS as well. Americans may not use their services much, but they are generally on board with plans to modernize or otherwise reduce the expenses of the agency. More than three-quarters of respondents reported that closing and co-locating offices would not cause them to use it less often, and 48.2 percent of respondents would support these closings versus only 24.5 percent opposed. Americans were more divided on the question of scaling back to five delivery days, but even in this case, less than half of Americans were definitely opposed. People were also generally supportive of adding new services, such as drivers license renewals or permit requests, although many expressed doubts that they would actually use these.

Clearly, Americans are on board with the idea of a trimmed-down Postal Service and are generally willing to live with a smaller footprint and fewer delivery days. The USPS, for its part, agrees. At this point its only Congress that is standing in its way.

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  • Gene

    “At this point it’s only Congress that is standing in its way.” I think that will one day be seen as the best brief summation of U.S. domestic politics in the first half of this century.

  • Bruce

    Good point about Congress obstructing. However, the postal workers union has been formidable over the decades as well in preventing reforms.

  • Andrew Allison

    Given the fact that the study was commissioned by the USPS, the conclusions that “The overwhelming majority of respondents think their life would be affected adversely if the Postal Service did not exist in five years.” and “Most respondents also consider Postal Service delivery a public service that should be maintained, even if it is not profitable.” should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt.
    The report goes on to say that that “Respondents, however, generally misunderstand how the Postal Service is funded, believing it is funded through tax dollars, rather than postage sale revenue.” I suspect that the respondents understand perfectly well that if USPS loses money, it must come from somewhere else. All the study does is buttress the argument for the tinkering (not transformation) which the USPS recently proposed to Congress and had rejected. Hardly money well spent.
    A transformational approach (which also wouldn’t make it through Congress, but that’s another story) would have been to get public reaction to staggered every other day delivery, requiring roughly half as many carriers (a few extra for same-day delivery of, appropriately priced, Priority/Express mail) as at present.

  • teapartydoc

    My postmen patients tell me their job is to deliver junk mail.

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