The Post-Postal Society?

The U.S. Postal Service struggles to stay self-sufficient.

In 2006 the nation's vast army of postal clerks, letter carriers, and facer-canceler machines processed and distributed 213 billion pieces of mail. By 2010 that number had dropped to 170 billion, and according to forecasts commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the total will sink to 150 billion by 2020. In March 2010, postal administrators announced that the USPS could run up a cumulative deficit as high as $238 billion during the next decade. To cut expenses in the face of eroding revenues, the postal service floated the idea of reducing delivery to five days a week and stepped up its efforts to shutter underperforming post offices and branches. This year, it hopes to close as many as 2,000 of its approximately 32,000 outlets

When this sort of thing happens, the locals typically express…well, "outrage" might be too strong a word for it, but they definitely get mildly annoyed. In December 2010, for example, the USPS closed a post office located on the campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene. "I don't even know where I would go if it closes," a student told the campus newspaper. (There are seven other post offices in Eugene, including one less than a mile away from the university.) "I would never find another postal job as fun as this one," exclaimed a postal employee faced with moving to a new location.

All across America, in the small towns politicians like to iconize as citadels of self-sufficiency and can-do spirit, the lack of easy access to Pottery Barn catalogs and utility bills is threatening to tear things asunder. "This is how towns get broken," the author Bill McKibben wrote in a 2008 New York Times article when the USPS temporarily shut down the post office in his tiny hometown of Ripton, Vermont.

"We don't have much left in our small town…so it is nice to go up there and run into people that you wouldn't see otherwise," a resident of Tallula, Illinois, told the Associated Press in February 2011. "We have been hoping and praying [the postal service] doesn't close it," a resident of Crescent City, Illinois, lamented to USA Today the same month. "If we lose our post office, we're just about lost."

Closing a small-town post office, or even a couple thousand small-town post offices, isn't going to put much of a dent into the $8.5 billion deficit the USPS recorded in 2010 or the $3.8 billion deficit it racked up the previous year. The postal service's most pressing fiscal crisis arises from a provision in the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that requires it to prefund its Retiree Health Benefits Fund at the rate of approximately $5.6 billion a year from 2007 to 2016; the agency has not been able to make those payments without running up huge deficits.

But if thousands of underperforming post offices are a relatively tiny albatross around the postal service's neck, they will no doubt continue to serve as a point of controversy as the agency tries to retool itself for a reduced role in the Internet age. 

Forty years ago, on July 1, 1971, the Post Office Department evolved into the United States Postal Service, a federal but independently operating entity that sustains itself with no direct support from taxpayers. (To cover years in which it operates at a deficit, it has a $15 billion credit line with the U.S. Treasury.) If the USPS wants to maintain its self-sustaining status in the face of declining demand for its most lucrative monopoly, first-class mail, it must shed personnel, streamline infrastructure, and cut services.

Every time the postal service resorts to such measures, it jeopardizes—or at least appears to jeopardize—its commitment to making the postal system as accessible, comprehensive, and democratic as possible. But if the USPS has a longtime mandate to serve the public interest, it also has a longtime mandate to make its own ends meet. Neither George Washington nor James Madison imagined that the government's general treasury would underwrite America's emerging mail system, the Columbia historian Richard R. John argues in "History of Universal Service and the Postal Monopoly," a 2008 paper commissioned by Congress. "Indeed, it was far more likely that they presumed, with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, that the postal system might one day transfer a substantial surplus to the government as the British postal system had in Great Britain, and as the American postal system would for several decades after 1787."

The postal service's mandate of self-sustainability is often scorned by advocates who believe the government is failing any citizen who has to travel more than a mile to ship a batch of cookies to grandma at Christmas. But self-sustainability and serving the public can also be viewed as interdependent motives. If you aren't meeting the public's needs and expectations in some substantial way, you won't be self-sustaining for long. If you aren't self-sustaining, your ability to serve the public interest becomes contingent on the whims of politicians.

In the case of the postal service, it seems pretty clear that the infrastructure it developed to serve 19th-century America isn't quite as necessary in the 21st. In 1901 there were 76,945 post offices in the United States. Today there are 32,000, and if the postal service had free rein to purge as many as it saw fit, who knows how many would remain? But how many people would argue that it's harder for us to communicate with friends and family or to pursue long-distance business interests than it was for our forebears in 1901? Who would claim that we have less access to information than they did? The idea that the postal service's efforts to streamline its operations in pursuit of ongoing viability might somehow leave even small numbers of Americans in an information void is preposterous. We are the most tightly connected civilization in the history of humanity, and even an organization capable of deploying inefficiency on the scale achieved by the USPS can't change that.

Even postal preservationists end up undermining the utilitarian importance of post offices. In his 2006 book Preserving the People's Post Office, Christopher W. Shaw, a project director at Ralph Nader's Center for Study of Responsive Law, says the USPS serves as a symbol of "our nation's democratic aspirations by serving everyone equally" and provides a vital "community hub" where neighbors can bump into each other and trade small talk for a few minutes. In a similar vein, "A Framework for Considering the Social Value of Postal Services," a 2010 white paper prepared by the Urban Institute on behalf of the Postal Regulatory Commission, winds up arguing that post offices benefit communities in ways that have nothing to do with collecting or distributing mail. "Post offices bring increased foot traffic for nearby businesses," it reports in one section. "Some post offices are drop-off points for recycling cell phones and other goods," it advises in another.

So post offices are homey but high-minded emblems of democracy, bustling third spaces for towns too bucolically correct to tolerate a Starbucks (which are still outnumbered by post offices by a more than two-to-one margin). In the same way that Filson hunting jackets and chambray utility shirts have been recast as urban fashion, the post office is turning into a lifestyle prop, an authentic, old-timey example of "heritage" communications. And, of course, the most democratic place in the land to recycle your old cell phone when you upgrade to a Nokia E5 and its superior messaging capabilities. 

Contributing Editor Greg Beato (gbeato@soundbitten.com) writes from San Francisco.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • rather||

    They need to do some marketing to reverse their business decline. I recommend naked mailmen

  • rather||

    He would need to ring twice too

  • CUNT-VOMIT ALERT||

    EOM

  • Jerry||

    Newman!!!!

  • Cliff||

    fuck Newman

  • pancakes||

    He was great in Jurassic Park.

  • ||

    I liked him better in Space Jam.

  • Maude L.||

    What about his work in the beaver picture?

  • Ice Nine||

    Yeah, but who will do the semi-annual maniacal mass shooting of innocent workers if they close the Post Office?

    Oh, that's right...

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Unemployed ex postal workers?

  • ||

    That's-the-joke?

  • ||

    Sad. You. Are.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Going_postal

    Myth. But don't let facts get in the way.

  • Mo||

    The solution is to allow the post office to adjust prices accordingly. Right now they are prohibited from increasing their prices faster than the rate of inflation. When there are spikes in fuel prices, their competitors can make up for the increased costs, while they cannot.

  • Zeb||

    I think that would be the best thing. Stop requiring increases to be approved by congress and set the Postal Service free for real. Shit, even Germany and the UK have privatized the post.

  • Otto||

    There are also (politically driven) subsidies for bulk mailers. The people who send out those big piles of coupons, fliers and other crap that you throw right in the trash? They pay less than everyone else...

  • Jeff||

    That really isn't the solution - the solution is to redefine what the post office is. I'm perpetually amazed at how people don't understand that the purpose of the post office is to provide reliable mail service to all parts of the nation. This means you get a ton of post offices in bumblefuck Alaska and no-where Montana, but without them people would not be able to get mail service. If you want the post office to be an economically efficient entity, stop all delivery and close all offices that are located in nowhere locations.

  • Zeb||

    Or just actually make it be an independent company and let it redefine itself and innovate as necessary. In countries where the post has been privatized and there is no first class mail monopoly the post companies have diversified and gotten into new markets.

  • JD the elder||

    The sad thing is that the post office does _not_ actually provide reliable delivery to everywhere in the US. Back in college I dated a girl who came from Ossining, NY; it's a small place, but hardly a remote Alaskan village or anything, and the USPS would not deliver mail to houses there, requiring residents to go to the post office to pick up their mail. And this in a place that is literally about an hour out of NYC. Fuck the USPS.

  • jester||

    I hardly ever check the mail. About once a week. Unless I am expecting some mail order piece that isn't sent FedEx or UPS, I really don't need to check it. my mailman gets passive aggressive and purposely crumples all the mail. Gee, that really hurts to have all of those mailers defaced before I immediately throw them in the trash.

    The telephone and now the internet have killed the function of the Postal Service. Parcels are all that matter and now with e-books, downloadable music, etc., there are fewer things each day to parcel in.

    How many music/record stores do you see anymore. Bookstores are next. What's wrong with forcing the USPS to diversify. If they were smart they'd continue to outsource to cofee shops and stores like Wallmart or Target, just as Starbucks has out sourced to supercenters.

  • ||

    The internet provides new business to the USPS. Ever ordered online?

  • The Fringe Economist||

    um they don't really have competitors since that's illegal according to the constitution for parcel mail. packages yes, but not envelope mail.

    Even with UPS and FedEX you need to put your envelope in their "packaging" and they charge you package rates, not envelope rates.

  • ||

    It's not the Constitution that bans private first class mail carriers, it's federal law (which was changed some time ago to allow private package transport). The mention of postal service in the Constitution was merely because they still believed in enumerated powers back then.

  • ||

    Yeah, a soon as the government OK's UPS and Fed Ex for the handling of envelope sized mail, you go right ahead and pay that $2..88 per envelope (or more) to pay your bills, send birthday cards, and what ever you used regular mail for. And you know what? Chances are, the USPS will be delivering a large percentage of them anyway. We deliver a ton of parcels for UPS to places out in rural USA that UPS doesn't want to deliver to. Since we are going there anyway, its cheaper for them to let us deliver them.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    So in other words, we're going non-postal?

  • jim dog||

    What ever happened to the Pony Express? I miss it dearly.

  • jester||

    Snails were faster. Hence the term snail mail.

  • ||

    we deliver SO much Priority mail in generally 2-3 days across the country MUCH cheaper than UPS and FedEX. I happen to appreciate UPS and FedEX, too. They do NOT WANT our business. Trust me. We deliver FOR THEM (Parcel Select), and as a shareholder for UPS, I see they have visions on Global Supply Chain Solutions, not final mile to residential delivery. Apples and Oranges. Room in this town for all three of us.

  • DDavis||

    Why can't the post office get it's act together and get me a permanent mailing address for the rest of my life, that forwards my mail to whatever address I tell them to send it to?

  • prolefeed||

    Because it is a government-run monopoly. They don't allow competitors to innovate and thus force them to respond and be more attentive to their customers.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Google Snail Mail?

  • Michael||

    Because that would kneecap the wonderful services they provide for other government agencies, such as failing to deliver the emission test notice for a vehicle you no longer own and haven't since the last two times you moved.

  • ||

    Here in Illinois, it is the law to notify the Secretary of State within 10 days of moving. You don't need to get a new driver's license, just notify change for license and registration. So if you have moved twice, and it's a year later, and you still get mailing with the original address, you are breaking the law. But if it makes you feel better to blame the USPS, feel free.

  • seguin||

    OR failing to deliver the SR-22 form that would have kept my license from being revoked, or failing to deliver the notice of my revocation, etc. etc...

    Although, more likely that was the fault of the dumbass DPS twats in Austin.

  • prolefeed||

    In 2006 the nation's vast army of postal clerks, letter carriers, and facer-canceler machines processed and distributed 213 billion pieces of mail. By 2010 that number had dropped to 170 billion, and according to forecasts commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the total will sink to 150 billion by 2020.

    Hmmm, they've lost 20% of their business in just 4 years due to email taking over their market share, and they only project about a 10% further drop in the next ten years?

    I think the technical term for that is "denial". Even their fucking government-enforced monopoly on first class mail can't save them from their new virtually free competitor, email.

  • MNG||

    "can't save them from their new virtually free competitor, email."

    Seems somone has not heard of the gitial divide.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F.....07_ITU.png

  • Zeb||

    I have certainly never heard of the gitial divide.

  • pancakes||

    Well I just plain don't like old people. So they can get on facebook or just fucking die already.

  • prolefeed||

    So your point is that the dwindling number of old folks who don't use email will keep the Post Office afloat? You do notice that the line for the First World is rapidly heading toward 100%, yeah?

    Which part of "bleeding market share like crazy" don't you get?

  • MNG||

    It's not just old people, this may amaze you but many people do not have regular internet service.

  • Ragnar||

    And most of that 170billion is probably junk mail. I get 2 or 3 credit card offers and junk catalogs every day. Haven't gotten an actual letter from the family except for Christmas cards in several years: we use e-mail.

    If they stopped servicing the junk mail they'd go completely under.

  • MNG||

    I dunno, I didn't get many actual letters even before the internet...The internet seems to have largely replaced phone calls imo.

    I've heard the internet has led to more junk mail, people buy from online sources and get put on catalog mailing lists, but these numbers don't support that idea.

  • ||

    I didn't get many actual letters even before the internet.

    If you behaved the way you do on this blog, I can understand why.

  • ||

    Of course, e-mail has reduced the barriers to sending hate mail, too. OTOH it has probably made threatening messages easier to trace.

  • Zeb||

    I don't think it it completely unreasonable to think that perhaps most of the business that is going to email has already gone there.

  • prolefeed||

    Ummm, the link provided by MNG upthread begs to differ. Still a lot of late adopters coming online. The only snail mail I pay for is mailing a handful of checks each month.

    I give the Post Office maybe another decade before their monopoly on first class mail is superceded by email to the point where they go belly-up or get Congress to subsidize them.

  • ||

    Um, two types of volume loss. Permanent, and temporary. permanent mail volume loss being addressed with employee total draw down from 820,000 in 2000 to 572,000 currently, and probably under 425,000 by 2020. Temporary volume loss occurred from Spring 2008 until Summer 2009 due to the deep recession, and subsequent stoppage of most advertising by most large companies.

  • Stretchy||

    "...where neighbors can bump into each other and trade small talk for a few minutes..."

    Has anyone ever actually done this?

  • Ice Nine||

    We mainly stand in a long line and silently glower.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I have. It's the worst part of my day.

  • fish||

    Or wait while someone tries to buy a stamp with a hundred dollar bill (yes I've seen it)

  • Mad Scientist||

    Yeah, I have. Of course, I've also done the same thing at the grocery store, the gas station, the hardware store, the bank.....

  • Scotty||

    Don't worry - most people are aware that you libertarians hate everyone, so they'll understand when you just growl at them.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    How timely. I just got a regular sized envelope I mailed out (with a job application) "returned for additional postage". Why don't they just make the fare for a regular sized envelope, any weight, non rigid an even 0.50 federal currency. People only mail documents these days when there is no other option. The fifty cents "should" give them a little extra revenue, and may encourage more thicker documents to be mailed.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Actually, just shut the shit down.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "provides a vital "community hub" where neighbors can bump into each other and trade small talk for a few minutes."

    *BARF*

    Now, what happens to them if they try to trade anything of actual value at the post office?

  • jim dog||

    That is what funeral homes are for.

  • MNG||

    The post office, an enumerated power of the federal government btw, is one of those things I talked about where we want a certain basic service to be available to all citizens (somewhat) regardless of ability to pay. If we reach a time when that service could be better provided to the same group by markets then I'm all for it, till then I think we should keep it.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Enumerated power ≠ libertarianism

  • MNG||

    You mean the Founders were'nt libertarians?

    Stupid dead white guys.

  • fish||

    I'm guessing that they had a better handle on contractions than you do though.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    They did emerge straight out of the feudal system, and came up with shit like the public land system. Still more libertarian than you.

  • Otto||

    You mean the Founders [weren't] libertarians?

    Compared to us, or you?

  • Otto||

    Damn Colonel Angus...

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    Some of them were libertarians. Some were near-libertarians. Consider this: some of those present at the constitutional debates and convention thought that the idea of a Bill of Rights was completely laughable, since government couldn't do anything that the supreme law didn't specifically enumerate. In fact, proto-minarchism was probably common in the more passionate circles of the political sphere at the time.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    What makes you think competing private postal services wouldn't beat their prices? It seems like the Post Office is actually anti-equality according to your philosophy. Everyone pays the same prices regardless of income and no one gets free stamps in the mail. It's just free from competition for no specific reason and with no social justice justifications. It doesn't make sense to me why liberals would have any special afferction for it short of just liking something the government does because the the government does it.

  • ||

    [ short of just liking something the government does because the the government does it.]

    You may have inadvertantly stumbled onto something there.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    I guess you've never heard of intentional stumbling.

  • ||

    Privatize means take the profitable parts, and then underserve the rural areas. Universal Service is law.

  • ola||

    an enumerated power is not a requirement to perform an activity. i think the federal government has as much of a requirement to operate a post office as congress has to declare war. oh wait....

  • ||

    a certain basic service to be available to all citizens (somewhat) regardless of ability to pay.

    And if stamps were free, that would actually apply here.

  • Zeb||

    Mail delivery is free to the recipient.

  • ||

    So is rape.

  • ||

    "...regardless of ability to pay..? Really? So does that mean that the post office can raise postage rates until they hit at least a break-even point? If they do that, and a first-class stamp costs $1, doesn't that undermine the notion of "regardless of ability to pay"?

  • Edwin||

    are you out of your fuckin' mind?

    private carriers could esaily do well under 45 cents/ letter mailed. In fact, they tried opening up competing businesses but were only stopped because of that ruling at the supreme court that read WAY too much into the "run a postal service" clause in the constitution as meaning that they could ban other carriers if it was necessary to maintain a postal service

    if private carriers couldn't beat their prices then why would they need to ban them?

  • prolefeed||

    If we reach a time when that service could be better provided to the same group by markets then I'm all for it

    You have heard of UPS and FedEx, yeah? Are you saying they are doing a crappy job of delivering those categories of mail not forcibly monopolized by the USPS?

    Let private carriers compete for first class business and rapidly replace the crappy federal government service.

  • MNG||

    "be available to all citizens (somewhat) regardless of ability to pay"

    Did you miss that part or do you want to argue that UPS and FEd Ex make their services available to all citizens regardless of their ability to pay (or in a heavily subsidized way)? Cuz if the latter is true I'm taking my stock out of those companies.

  • ||

    Last I used the USPS, I had to pay for it, too. Nobody gave a shit whether I was able to.

  • Cy Nickelfuque||

    "it is nice to go up there and run into people that you wouldn't see otherwise," a decrepit, technophobic resident of Tallula, Illinois, told the Associated Press

  • Derp||

    Man I really want a new cell phone now, for some reason....

  • CommentARRRR||

    The inefficiencies of first class mail delivery are what dooms the USPS to eventual failure. Sadly this is a place where even private enterprise would likely never improve the practice without major modification to the delivery rules (door-to-door would keep even the biggest players out of the business due to the expense of so many routes).

  • ||

    Every-other-day delivery, or even less, would actually make more sense for a private firm. That would save a boatload of money, as nothing time-sensitive is sent via FCM anymore.

  • Corporate Drone||

    Seconded.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I think the whole "first class" load of shit needs to be dropped. They should start calling it something like "mail".

  • Zeb||

    There are other classes of mail.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I know that, but the term "first class" implies "premium" or "good service". Its false advertising.

  • cynical||

    Does it? It could just imply not being second class, as in "second class citizen". Which is how your mail is treated if it isn't first class.

  • ||

    I've never tried to send a letter "second class" or lower. Can you do that?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Apparently the lower classes are different kinds of print items. So first class is the highest forwarding priority of things that you mail first class because they aren't very important.

  • Rock Action ||

    If they haven't already started, I can almost guarantee you'll start hearing calls for every-other-day delivery coming from the USPS soon.

  • ||

    Agreed. Monday, Wednesday and Friday would be fine for regular mail delivery. For stuff that's not time-sensitive (or is, but that time window is 15-30 days), it's really inefficient to get one or two bits of mail daily. I wouldn't notice any difference if I got two or three bits, a few times a week.

  • iamtheeviltwin||

    ^This

    I am currently working out of town and have been heading home on the weekends. When i get home I have a weeks worth of mail waiting for me and it works just fine.

    Haven't noticed much difference between daily and weekly other than I have a larger stack of junk mail to throw out at one sitting.

  • ||

    They could combine the DMV and the post office for one stop waiting, er, uh, shopping!

  • ||

    I wear Filson stuff when I'm hunting. I go to the post office when I want to mail something. I'm old school like that.

    I find myself doing more of that hunting because I don't have to spend as much time doing stupid shit like waiting in line at the post office. The Internet IS the key to keeping "heritage" experiences alive. I don't consider standing in line ANYWHERE to be a peak experience, or a heritage worth preserving...

  • J.R.||

    Filson? Wow, you should be paying more taxes, with your $195.00 Men's Whipcord Pants.

  • ||

    Addendum: I only wear the real Filson stuff, not the new imported city wear. That stuff is silly. I'm talking about Tin Cloth.

  • cynical||

    Put me in the "raise rates on bulk mail" camp. And hell, instead of closing down under-performing post offices in small towns, offer to keep it up in exchange for the town paying a fee. If they don't take the deal, it's not USPS's problem.

  • ||

    If we lay off all those postal workers, at least some of them will turn into sociopathic murderers and shoot a bunch of people!

    Oh wait...

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    Far too many of you are assuming the federal government has the authority to prohibit competition in the industry, or impose any sort of monopoly or restriction on a specific/any service or commodity. It does not. I don't give two shits what the Supreme Court of the United States decided was right over brunch.

    Free-market competition will kill the bad providers of the service, and propel the good ones to success, lowering prices and increasing quality in the process.

    I understand why cock-gobbling progressives wouldn't understand that, given that the shortest constitution in use today and a couple of sentences of logic are so damned difficult to understand.

  • Scotty||

    "I don't give two shits what the Supreme Court of the United States decided was right over brunch."

    While you're at it, could you please unilaterally declare yourself the solo judge of "American Idol" and get rid of James?

  • ||

    USPS made $9.5 Billion profit from 2003-2006
    PAEA law passed in 2006 requires Pre-payment to fund for health benefits for future retirees. 10 year plan 2007-2016. About $5.5 Billion required each year. 2007, 2008, and 2010 received FULL payment. 2009 was reduced through H.R. 22 by around $4 Billion for a payment of around $1.4B.

    Bottom line the losses from 2007-2010 are around $20B, but the prepayments were around $21B, so the USPS is operationally PROFITABLE. Artificial handicap is killing us. No reason to fully fund that account by 2016. That is akin to starving your family to pay off a 30 year mortgage in just 10 years. I am retiring in 2038, so my retired health benefits will NOT be required in 2016.

    Pensions. Separate issue. Two types, defined benefit and defined contribution. People hired before 1984 are CSRS, and newer hires are under the FERS system. CSRS is pension, with no social security. FERS is smaller pension, social security contributions taken out, and benefits eligible, plus a 401k type instrument called TSP.

    The CSRS fund is OVER funded by about $50-75 Billion. Depending on if you believe the OIG or PRC. The OPM miscalculated, but won't fully admit it.

    The FERS fund is OVER funded by about $7.5 Billion.

    So you can see the USPS has been BAILING out the Federal government for some time now. Any credit for these over payments WOULD NOT be a tax payer bailout, and the funds could go directly to the pre-funding of retiree health benefits, raising THAT fund from the current estimated balance of $40 Billion to the 2016 goal of over $70 Billion, also eliminating the remaining 6 annual payments of $5.5 Billion I wrote about earlier.

    The USPS has reduced employee totals from 820,000 in 2000 to around 573,000 now. I predict that in 2020, the USPS will have 425,000 employees. So employee totals have been drawn down through attrition FASTER than mail volume declines, but that is rarely mentioned.

    The fact that 80% of the USPS $70 Billion in annual revenues goes to salary and benefits is NOT out of line. We are a service industry. We make nothing. What should that percentage be?? I think it is too low.

    Lose $238 Billion by 2020? Really?? The USPS has NEVER lost more than $9 Billion in a single year, and have a $15 Billion debt ceiling. Pray tell, how will they be able to lose $25 Billion per year the next nine years. Seriously.

    Finally (for now), the USPS says 80% of post offices are losing money. That is low. It's more like 92%. The reason is that revenue is credited at the point of entry, so large plants get all the credit, and small offices that actually deliver it DO NOT get the credit for delivering it. The smallest, rural 10,000 post offices cost the $70 Billion dollar organization LESS than $1 Billion per year. If you shut them all down, rural America will suffer unduly.

    Thanks for reading.

    Ken

  • T vraniak||

    You've hit it on the head Ken. For some reason their are Congessional people that continue to say we (the employees)are the problem, when in fact their actions (Congress) have done more to put us where we are and ultimately cause this knee-jerk reaction that is affecting many good,sincere employees at this time. Maybe all of those leaving should request their total retirement money to be paid out up front so they can invest as they see fit!

  • T vraniak||

    There are several things that Congress could do immediately to correct the USPS situation. First, pay back to the USPS the overfunded benefits estimated to be between $50-$70 BILLION DOLLARS. Second, recind the pre-funding of the already overfunded benefits which has amounted to $3-$5 BILLION annually since 2006. Do away with SOX compliance (part of the 2006 Congressional bill) It is not required since we are not a publically traded institution. Our own internal rules and regulations exceed SOX and have since the inception of the USPS. They were well guarded by the US Postal Inspection Service prior to 1996 and the inception of the Congressional OIG. Fourth, have Congress pay back the cost of the OIG which they mandated but have required it to be funded by the USPS since 1996. Have the OIG doing what it is suppose to and operate like all other Congressional OIG's. Put the Inspection Service back into the internal affairs of the organization for which they were established with the inception of the USPS. This is the only policing agency the USPS should be paying for. Fifth, do away with the seperation of the Plants and Customer Service, this would lean out excess manangement and ensure that the goals of both are tied into service for the Public, our end product. Sixth, have Senior Management recind their 40% wage increase back to where it was adjusting for only the cost of living allowance. Ensure that their benefit package mirrors that of all employees. Take away the first 4 items and the USPS has made money. There are real figures available to prove this. Once this has been done, then down size accordingly to fit demand. This would protect the inner structure of the System where the work is really being done and have less of an impact on our customers.

  • ||

    So SOX is hurting the USPS as much as it is the rest of the country...

    Here's the problem: the USPS is one of the only government businesses, i.e. it actually provides a service in return for a fee. It is a revenue source.

    That means it's ripe for ripping off by Congress. I'm not sure what solution there is, because what Congress can rape, Congress will. See Social Security "Trust Fund"...

    I personally have been very happy with the service at the Post Office. Mail carriers have been friendly and have done a great job. Management has worked well: when I did start getting the wrong mail with any regularity, I soon saw a new mail carrier.

    Hell, I even shot Skeet last night with a mail carrier, and not ONCE did he turn his gun on any of us ;-)

    Seriously, I don't have any real complaints about the Postal Service. Like you, I have plenty about Congress...

  • screening machine||

    KEESTRACK,manufacturing expert of mobile crusher and mobile screening equipment. Company engaged in the research & development, manufacture, sales of trackscreening machine,mobile screening,cone crusher,jaw crusher,impact crusher,mobile screening equipment,mobile crushing equipment, till now we are proud to say we are at front of the industry

  • ||

    I don't mail any letters.......nobody mails any letter to me, so let the post office just shut down, OK?

  • ||

    I rarely fly anymore, so I guess by your logic, we can close airports, shut down airlines, and watch airplane manufacturers go out of business.

  • ||

    Exactly !!!

  • ||

    No. I sold a home from 1100 miles away using scanned documents in PDF format via e-mail, and a couple of FedEx overnight envelopes of stuff (could be done by the USPS also, in the same way, with ad hoc delivery).

    The world has changed. The USPS has a purpose, but that purpose is different from what it was just a few years ago. I don't blame the USPS for having to make adjustments. Who doesn't? But people who try to lock the USPS in the 19th Century are doing us, and the Postal Service, no favors.

  • MrGuy||

    So the demand for the USPS has dropped and now they'll close branches to compensate. This a surprising? And if you live in a town where losing a USPS branch is devastating, then you REALLY need to fucking move.

  • Ben Franklin||

    It says Reason. Humans are not reasonable. We would not war on each other if we were!

  • Ben Franklin||

    Shallow minds have shallow solutions. You gotta love the "if you don't like it fuck you!" attitude. Lets go to war!

  • ||

    Speaking from experience. I worked for the USPS 20 years. Privatize! Get the government out of the till and even a same price to all address policy could make a profit in a private company. If it didn't Fed EX wouldn't be going to the remote areas to deliver parcels for less than the USPS. An over managed top heavy bureaucracy that cannot grasp the slightest concept of real customer service is bound to fail. Privatization will also enable taxes to be collected on what is now Government property. The government has never run anything that private industry can't do better, cheaper and more efficiently. Period!

  • قبلة الوداع||

    ThaNk U

  • kangzhu||

    This plan has no merit

  • دلعني||

    good man

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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