Goodbye Saturday Delivery, Goodbye USPS
Published on: February 13, 2013
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  • John Burke

    The USPS has two services which generate more than enough business to sustain a competitive enterprise, slimmed down, shorn of half its employees and perhaps more than half if its facilities, modernized with technology, and refocused on those services: packages and first-class mail. It’s widely conceded that the package express business is a good one in which the USPS could compete successfully if it got its act together. Less noticed, despite the ongoing shift to email and other online communications, the USPS still handles nearly 80 billion pieces of first-class mail per year. That’s a lot of mail. If priced right and provided efficiently — more service, not less — the volume would be less but the rest could be very profitable (and you could sneak the declining volume of second-class mail for magazines in with the first class stuff). Junk commercial mail would have to go, along with a dozen other services that lose money, while the service should consider entering new businesses.

    But it is possible

    • Adam Garfinkle

      I agree, and I said in my blog that I would prefer a smaller, leaner servicer to its going belly-up. But Congress has not let the USPS enter new businesses up until now, and the USPS has not been willing to even think about the level of change you are describing.

  • n.i. silver

    In other words, the United States Postal Service is too big to mail.

    • Shnarbles Von Klieneschieflerbarmezergizhe

      You sir, deserve a medal for that.

      • Adam Garfinkle

        Well, hey, thanks; send one right over, Shnarbo.

    • Adam Garfinkle

      Very enjoyable response. Thank you.

  • Rabnif

    For those who are in big cities, it might seem the post office is unecessary. But if you live in Nowhere, Montana, or Alaska, or even one of the smaller Hawaiian islands, you would get killed if you had to pay the actual cost of mailing your letters. I think it is something people are willing to support, but, yes, it should slim down, and cut benefits, etc. It WILL be painful. But I think having a national postal service is basic, and that has been part of our nation and part of accepted government activity from the days of our Founding Fathers.

    • Adam Garfinkle

      I expressed those sentiments as well in my blog. But enough is enough…… We’ve seen the train wreck coming for years, and the Congress and the USPS leadership have failed miserably to respond. Hence the need to radical medicine.

  • Seipherd

    Real USPS reform would have them forgoing delivering spam every day to just delivering real mail, Netflix DVDs and Amazon/Ebay orders.

    On the other hands, I’d be good with the USPS continuing to deliver spam, if it was required to be on newsprint paper. Glossy colored spam doesn’t make good fire starter for the woodstove. Now that we’ve canceled the local liberal rag of a newspaper, we’re running short on firestarter and bird cage liner.

    • Adam Garfinkle

      I sympathize. We too have birds (2 cockatiels) and a wood stove. We still suffer the NYT and the WashPost, however, so we have plenty of liners and fire-starters.

  • RPD

    The first thing to do would be to lift the Post Offices monopoly on letter mail. Is there any real reason they should have it? Secondly lift congressional restrictions on the PO’s competitiveness, let the them fight it out with the private entities and either sink or swim.
    Besides that, certainly an accommodation can be made for delivery to remote citizens without having to support the entire leviathan that is today’s Post Office?

    • Mikey

      If you lift the USPS monopoly on “letter mail”, private carriers would pick off all the big city ‘profitable’ big city routes, and leave the USPS with just the unprofitable rural “Alaskan, New Mexico and Nevada” routes, making their financial situation even more dire.

      Keep in mind when studying this situation that the USPS is the single largest employer of Blacks in the USA.

  • Nick R

    Your post leaves out the fact that UPS and Fedex us the USPS for many rural deliveries to save themselves gas and money, so many more places then we realize would be left without communication and delivery service.
    Those places also tend to have spotty internet, and so sending an email might be more difficult or expensive than you imagine.

    You said “the universal service obligation of the USPS—that all American citizens, no matter how off-the-beaten-path they may live, are entitled to certain basic benefits.” exists, but you never gave an argument for abandoning it, other than “there aren’t many people excluded and I don’t care about them.” Do you have an actual reason?

    • Holly B

      Universal service obligation??? Not from where I’m sitting. I’m a veteran with service-connected disability in a semi-rural area (just outside of the state capitol). I receive essential medications from the VA through the mail. In recent months, our carrier has abruptly stopped delivering packages with no reason given despite our numerous complaints to the postmaster. If private services like UPS and FEDEX can do the job, the USPS should be shut down.

  • Nick R
  • George B

    Nothing urgent gets sent by the USPS. Reduce mail delivery from 6 days a week to 2 days a week and we could greatly reduce wage and fuel costs. The USPS could also rent out space on the top of their delivery trucks for payloads to drive test wireless networks, collect pictures for things like Google street view, look for street damage, use RFID to read utility meters, etc. Excess USPS real estate could be auctioned off to offset retiree costs. Lots of opportunities to cut costs and bring in new revenue.

  • The Post Office will not die as it the employer of last resort.

  • David Gray

    How about a 10% paycut across the board. This means upper management too. I’m sure employees would rather have the paycut than lose their hours entirely.Keep the same service for the public.

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