Friday, September 16, 2011

Close the damn post office already!

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Letters.jpg
  • Madhya

I have a confession to make: I love mail. I really do. I love stamps. I love buying stationery. And, I love it when I get an actual handwritten letter; it truly makes my day. In fact, one of my most cherished possessions is a large box of letters from my great-grandparents, both of whom once delivered mail out on Nebraska's wild prairie when all you had to write on an envelope was a name and a town, no street addresses required. Today, that box continues to fill with letters from their daughter, my grandmother.

Besides bills, my grandmother's correspondence is the only snail mail that arrives at my house. I use snail-mail less and less these days; a book of stamps now lasts months when it once only lasted weeks, and I send packages via another, for-profit company. On those rare occasions when I go to the post office, I'm inevitably met with long lines and slow, unhappy-seeming employees. (I've had cause to visit several offices in the Charlotte area and, with few exceptions, the employees seem pissed off to have anyone standing at their counter.)

So, as news breaks (again) about the U.S. Postal Service's financial issues and its want and need to close small locations and lay off staff — I'm sorry, my old friend The Post Office, but I'm having a difficult time being sympathetic. You're a drain on yourself, and on the government that's forced to prop you up time and again.

While we'll miss you, and your absence will confuse the hell out of my elderly relatives, I'm sure we'll adapt. In fact, I think we've already begun evolving past you. When you think overnight delivery, what pops to mind? Yeah, I thought so: Not the USPS.

I'm not saying evolving past the post office won't be painful, especially for the thousands who will lose their jobs, but I am saying that delaying the inevitable may hurt more.

Here's more on the USPS' potential demise, from Reuters:

The Postal Service, struggling to cut costs and conserve cash, said on Thursday it wants to end overnight delivery of letters and postcards and will study about 250 processing sites for possible closure.

The agency, which lost more than $3 billion last quarter, has said it must downsize drastically or will be forced to stop delivering mail by the end of next summer. Overseen by Congress and a regulator, it funds its services with postal-related revenue and does not get any taxpayer dollars.

Delivering First Class mail in two to three days instead of one to three days could save about $3 billion by 2015, the agency said. The change would allow it to close facilities, cut back on overnight work and eliminate about 35,000 jobs.

"Our entire network was designed based on a requirement that we maintain the capability to deliver First Class mail the next business day," said chief operations officer Megan Brennan.

Read the rest of this article, by Emily Stephenson, here.

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