Saturday Morning Post Office Trips
For the past 23 years, I have spent most every Saturday morning making a trip to the post office to retrieve the mail and work in the office for at least an hour to plan for the week ahead. I am such a creature of habit that I was rather upset that the U.S. Postal Service was planning to discontinue Saturday delivery because I thought it would negatively affect my weekly routine.
But, I learned this week that local post offices would remain open on Saturdays even if the weekend delivery service is cut. This would presumably mean that my two post office boxes would still get filled on Saturdays so that my morning could be fulfilled.
The U.S. Postal Service faces a projected $238 billion deficit over the next decade and has approved cuts to eliminate the equivalent of 49,000 full- and part-time positions. The Postal Service Board of Governors also approved cutting one day from the delivery schedule. Currently, Congress mandates delivery six days a week.
But as Americans turn more and more from paper to electronic communications, the number of items handled by the post office fell from 213 billion in 2006 to 177 billion last year. Volume is expected to decline to 150 billion pieces by 2020.
Even though the post office is an independent government entity supported almost entirely from postal fees, it has been forced to borrow from the federal government to meet shortfalls and expects to max out its $15 billion federal line of credit soon. In addition, the Postal Service is required to pre-fund retiree health care benefits that cost $5.5 billion annually - a law that the post office is seeking to change.
Clearly something needs to be done differently to keep the postal service operational. It employs 600,000 people and will not survive as a self-financing entity without significant changes to the current laws. This means the postal service will likely have to close up to 2,000 offices over the next few years and increase the price of a first-class stamp to help balance the books.
I am encouraged that steps are being taken to address the postal services' funding deficit. But even with the changes, it is apparent that the post office as we know it will have to change with the times.
On the other hand, from a selfish standpoint, it appears that I will still be able to enjoy retrieving my mail Saturday mornings no matter what happens.
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