You've heard this story before: Business is down, obligations to retired employees are growing and management is considering layoffs and service shutdowns one day a week. In this case, the organization in trouble is the United States Postal Service, which is projected to lose $7 billion this year and as much as $238 billion over the next decade. After commissioning several financial and management studies, the Postal Service is asking Congress for permission to end Saturday delivery.
Postal Service customers -- virtually everyone in the United States -- should take a harder-headed look at the situation. A service that once was a vital link between citizens has been overtaken by time and technology. Written communication is instantaneous on hand-held devices that are smaller than postcards. More people pay their bills, send family photos and write love letters without ever licking (or, rather, peeling) a stamp or using the services of the federal government. People who can't afford or don't want to buy computers or smartphones can do all those things by using the Internet at the local library. In 2006, people sent 213 billion pieces of mail. By 2009, that was down to 177 billion.
Meanwhile, even as letter carriers are delivering less actual mail, they must visit an increasing number of mailboxes to drop off the advertisements, also known as junk mail, that are becoming an increasing proportion of their load. Expenses are rising, revenue is dropping and the service provided is no longer the necessity it once was. It's time for a far broader rethinking than simply eliminating Saturday delivery.