The U.S. Postal service has seen a substantial decline in the amount of mail being delivered, which has significantly cut into their ability to operate. The majority of people in the United States have understandably moved to quicker mediums of communication such as cell phones and the internet. Documents that were once sent by snail mail are now being scanned into things like .pdf formats and sent over e-mail to the receiving end. That person can then print off the document or save it on their computer. Unfortunately methods like this do not bode well for the Postal Service which for almost 300 years has faithfully delivered mail within the United States as well as mail from the United States bound for other countries, and as a result it has now has defaulted on a government mandate to fund retiree benefits. In this article, I would like to discuss some pros and cons to the changes facing the U.S. Postal Service.
One immediate con is that the U.S. Postal Service is now becoming a drag on the national budget. In fact, the postal service is in danger of defaulting on a bill it owes to the federal government. (Liberto, CNNMoney) Currently the Postal Service, which rarely ever operates on tax dollars these days, is keeping afloat on a $12.7 billion dollar loan from the Treasury Department. (Liberto, CNNMoney) The Postal Service has begun to address the issue by ending certain delivery routes, consolidating postal centers, removing blue public drop boxes, freezing new hiring and salaries, and asking some employees to retire early. (Liberto, CNNMoney) Congress has yet to bring the issue to the floor and they alone have the power to assist the Postal Service in keeping out of a full default status. Congress last passed an assistance bill for the Postal service in April and it might become necessary to pass another bill in the very near future, such as a bill that would cut out the mandate requiring them to pay so much money into retiree benefits that the service cannot afford to make without more loan money. I believe it is important to keep the Postal service afloat because it offers a low-cost shipping alternative to corporate shipping companies, which tend to be expensive and would more than likely be even more expensive if the Postal Service were to disappear. At the same time using tax dollars to keep the Service afloat is not something that I would readily support because it amounts to another bailout of something that has gotten too big to sustain itself without government help. We’ve seen that in many banks and corporations already. It might become necessary to raise stamp prices, which I wouldn’t hope for but that might be the only way to even things out.
One pro about a decline in the amount of mail delivered by the Postal Service is the drop in gas use. I recall several years ago I had written a suggestion to the Postal Service website suggesting that they transition to electric vehicles to save money on gas expenditures as well as promote environmental protection. Someone from the Postal Service was kind enough to call me the next day to say that it was an agreeable suggestion and that the Postal Service has been experimenting in some areas with electric vehicles as well as Segways for use by employees delivering mail on foot. He stated that every time gas prices go up one cent it costs the Postal Service several millions of dollars. I hope that’s still in the works because I think that might be very realistic in dropping the operating cost of the Postal Service. Furthermore a drop in Postal Service gas use would drop the demand overall, dropping the gas prices for everyone else in the country, which would curb inflation and help to stabilize our economy. I hope that Congress and the Postal Service push for the use of electric vehicles as a cost saving measure so the Postal Service can continue operating in the future.
One significant con argument to the cutback of the Postal service is that rural areas will be the hardest hit, and many of those areas have a lack of cell phone or internet service. (Hoyer, USA Today) In areas where businesses and residents are dependent upon the mail system, a cutback of Postal Service access could be devastating. It might be better to cut back on urban areas as opposed to rural ones because urban areas have much better access to technology. I hope that assessments are being made as to how badly the rural cutbacks will affect certain areas because it might hurt economic recovery in small towns and communities.
The Postal Service has been in a bind lately. It just isn’t handling the amount of mail necessary to cover its financial needs. The Postal Service is being replaced by electronic communications that threaten to send the service into default on government loans that they have been using to keep it afloat. While it makes sense that in an age of business speed that sometimes moves faster than we can think to use a quick document delivery system like the internet, it’s a potential death blow for the Postal Service that is still responsible for the movement of many packages and goods such as Christmas presents. There is still a need for a cheap shipping service in this country and the Postal Service provides that very service. It’s just not in an easy position right now and the future is starting to look dim for the U.S. Postal Service.
Congress, WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — Without Help from. “Postal Service Faces Default on Wednesday.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 31 July 2012. Web. 31 July 2012. http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/31/news/economy/postal-service-default/
Hoyer, Meghan. “Postal Cutbacks Hurt Rural Outposts the Most.” USA Today. Gannett, 02 Aug. 2012. Web. 02 Aug. 2012. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-08-01/postal-service-rural-cutbacks-post-office/56669252/1