Ailing Postal Service to Bypass Congress to Stop Saturday Deliveries

As noted over at Reason 24/7 earlier, the United States Postal Service will announce today that it is ending letter delivery on Saturdays in order to save money.

It is doing so without permission from Congress, which has oversight over the agency. The USPS has been trying for a while to get legislative approval for the move, but has been denied by Congress members.

Yes, a government agency has been begging Congress to let them save money, but Congress is refusing. Unlike most government agencies, the Postal Service’s budget is not unlike what you’d see from a private business. Its source of income is its customers; it does not get money from elsewhere in the federal budget. So if it is losing business (and it is – quite a bit) it has to cut back to balance its budget. The USPS reported a net loss of $15.9 billion last fiscal year and is projecting a loss of $7.6 billion this fiscal year. They’re hoping dropping Saturday deliveries will save about $2 billion.

The Postal Service appears to be trying to bypass Congress through semantics. Congress won’t let them close on Saturdays, so what they’re doing, according to the Associated Press, is continuing to deliver mail to post office boxes on Saturdays and will keep their hours of operation. They just won’t deliver mail to homes.

Representatives for their union are upset:

[T]he president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Fredric Rolando, said the end of Saturday mail delivery is "a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers," particularly businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication.

They left out their own jobs that they're trying to protect, obviously. Latest numbers have the average postal employee making $83,000 a year in salary and benefits even as the volume of mail delivered by the USPS has dropped by about 20 percent over the past decade.

I have a short write-up about the sorry state of the USPS finances in the March 2013 issue of Reason, so check it out. Assuming it gets delivered.

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    [T]he president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Fredric Rolando, said the end of Saturday mail delivery is "a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers," particularly businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication.

    *barf*

  • Way Of The Crane||

    What about the children?

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Yeah, as opposed to the profoundly negative effect of losing $16billion in a year. Genius.

  • Trespassers W||

    "Post Office to Stop Saturday Deliveries; Women and Children Hit Hardest"

  • Aresen||

    I gather he has not heard of this internet thing.

  • nicole||

    Having postal delivery on Saturday is the No. 1 thing that was making us better than Canada. We're doomed.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    We're still better than Australia though, right?

  • Tonio||

    The USPS is no longer a government agency. Since 1971 It has been a federally chartered corporation with a government-enforced monopoly. Worst of both worlds: less accountability than an actual government agency, but Postal Inspectors wield federal law-enforcement powers.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    The post office is a government agency then.

  • Tonio||

    Sorta. Contrast with Dept of Agriculture. The Sec'y of Ag reports to the President who can fire his ass with or without cause. The Postmaster General used to report to the Pres, but now reports to the Board of Governors of the USPS who are appointed for nine-year terms. So, less accountability than normal executive branch agencies.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    And they have to pay into a trust fund to fully cover their pension liabilities for the next 75 years...and what they pay in is, as usual with fedgov "trust funds", immediately spent by Congress on other unrelated shit. So the USPS cutting its pension obligations actually would increase the deficit.

  • Hugh Akston||

    So the patient is bleeding out from a gut shot, and the cure is to cut off an arm.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    No, the patient is slowly being killed by a creeping gangrene infection and the cure it to cut out the rotting parts.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Yeah, those Saturday deliveries were making me avoid using the USPS.

  • ||

    No, but it is a cost they can't afford.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    If the cost is bringing in enough more business than it is worth it. The USPS isn't going to try to cut back to once a week delivery, even though that would save a ton on costs.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    That's not what I meant. My response was too brief.

    What it should have stated more clearly is that the cure SHOULD be to cut out the rotting parts. This isn't a "gut shot", it's a slowly creeping infection. Saying it's a gut shot is implying that it happened without warning and suddenly there was a giant gaping wound there. This has been going on for years, these losses in business have been an issue pretty much since email became mainstream.

    Unfortunately, the USPS is crippled in what it can actually do to save money, so it has to cut out whatever it can in order to not go completely insolvent.

  • Bobarian||

    The postal service has syphilis?

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    GhonoherpasyphilAIDS, actually. The really bad kind.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Maybe this will give them more time to stop delivering my neighbors' mail to me and vice versa. Fucking incompetents.

  • R C Dean||

    Maybe if your neighbors were more interesting, this wouldn't bother you so much.

  • Jordan||

    Thank god. My mail is 99% junk anyway, thanks to fucking USPS encouraging junk mail. I only check it once a week as it is. I can't wait until snail mail finally dies or at least goes on life support.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    Just means you'll get a bigger pile of junk on Mondays.

  • R C Dean||

    But enough about your social life . . .

  • SIV||

    It would be stupid to end express parcel delivery on Saturdays. That is a competitive advantage they have over the private carriers.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    The other carriers have Saturday delivery. You just pay a lot more for it.

  • Almanian.||

    News indicated they'd deliver parcels on Sat, just not "mail"

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I'm pretty sure I have had lots of shit delivered by Federal Express and UPS on Saturdays because that is just when the shit got delivered. They don't not put stuff on the truck when it is ready to go.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Uh, no.

    They will deliver it in a Friday, if it's ready to be delivered, or it won't get there until Monday unless one pays a hefty fee for Saturday delivery.

  • ||

    average postal employee making $83,000

    This just CAN'T be right. Really? Source? That's simply an insane amount.

    This site seems to confirm it, as even though it just reports Salary, it's not a great leap to imagine that they are getting 20K+ in Health Insurance and Pension benefits.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Guessing a lot of that is overtime pay but I don't know that for sure.

  • Rhywun||

    Yeah, that would be another similarity with government work - milking outrageous amounts of overtime.

  • Proprietist||

    They should legalize Saturday and Sunday delivery of first class mail by private companies.

  • Proprietist||

    They should legalize Saturday and Sundayevery day delivery of first class mail by private companies.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    No private company wants to deliver first class mail on any day. First class is where USPS is losing money.

  • Adam330||

    The Postal Service’s budget may not be unlike what you’d see from a private business, but their approach to declining revenues is exactly what you'd expect from a Government agency- degrade service. If UPS were losing money, would it end Saturday deliveries? Of course not. It would try to cut costs within its operations without affecting its customers, because it knows that degrading service will further reduce revenue. In fact, it's likely it would roll out some new enhanced service to try to get additional business and revenues.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    More reason to privatize the postal system. The current system is insanely restricted by what Congress will allow them to do.

    Yes, a government agency has been begging Congress to let them save money, but Congress is refusing.

    If they were allowed to act as a private business, they could adapt and improve with the changing times. This, being logical, is completely ignored by the government.

  • ||

    But if you privatize it, who's going to deliver the mail by float plane to the Inuit? Who's going to make sure there's a post office within 20 miles of anywhere? We NEED these things. Otherwise SOMALIA.

  • Brendan||

    If the route is slightly profitable, a company will do it. The people who choose 50 miles from nowhere will balk at the cost of 6 times a week delivery and demand that everyone else subsidize it.

  • GW||

    Uhh, there are already places a few miles from post offices where the USPS will NOT deliver mail to your home....but of course UPS and FedEx will deliver parcels.

    But mail? Hang it up. You have to go pick it up.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    FedEx already has hundreds of little ass planes for remote airports. And they could easily contract with independent bush pilots who already hit those areas anyways.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Yes, exactly. Amtrak is also set up like a private business, but loses $85 million a year selling $10 burgers to a captive market. This is what happens when your only investor is the federal government.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    They should get into the 'EEEmail' business. I hear all the kids are using it. Maybe even give them a monopoly on eeeemail, like home delivery, but with computidors.

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/.....557,00.asp

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I remember that stupid idea from a decade or more ago, but he wrote that just last year... wow.

  • Tonio||

    LOL. No way. Maybe allow a more privatized USPS to issue electronic certificates for identity verification, but nothing else.

  • Brendan||

    Anyone who marvels that a letter can be sent across the country for just 44 is an imbecile.

    It's like they have zero understanding of concepts like volume and subsidization.

  • Rich||

    Cynical Rich thinks this is just a thinly-veiled ploy to get everyone the elderly to mail as packages what would otherwise be letters.

  • H. Reardon||

    6-day delivery w/ each house being delivered to 3x per week. Halves the number of vehicles and mail carriers.

  • Rich||

    But how do you deal with the neighbor-mail-mixup problem? You might *never* get some mail, more than usual!

  • Almanian.||

    CHAOS! RIOTS! DOGS AND CATS LYING DOWN TOGETHER! CHILDREN EATING OLD PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!

    Also, Somalia.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    But I might have to wait an extra day for my Netflix disks!!!!! WAAAHHHH!!!!!

    Seriously, every day home delivery seems like overkill now. Most incoming mail is bills & junk, and most outgoing mail goes to lockboxes or businesses which would still have daily delivery. If you really needed your bill or letter to go out today, you could just run it to a Post Office or mailbox, which would still have daily pickup.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    That's the way to do it. Though I might favor two day a week delivery.

  • Hyperion||

    Wow, if I can't get my mailbox filled up with junk mail every Saturday, that is just going to be... not a problem.

    As long as Amazon can deliver my stuff on Saturday with free shipping, then life remains good.

  • Brendan||

    The USPS monopoly on 1st and 3rd class mail shouldn't apply on Saturdays if they do this.

  • nicole||

    If you keep trying to use logic like that, you're only going to get hurt.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    That would hurt union workers. WHY DO YOU HATE THE MIDDLE CLASS??!!!!!

  • R C Dean||

    WHy do I hate the middle class?

    Maybe because they keep voting to raise my taxes.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    The USPS monopoly on 1st and 3rd class mail shouldn't apply on Saturdays if they do this Exist.

    FTFY

  • Brendan||

    Agreed. This was my compromise...

    Any day they don't deliver = a day they don't have a monopoly on that mail.

    At a minimum, I should be able to accept and deliver mail to customers of my choosing on the days the USPS doesn't do it.

    Taking it to an extreme, imagine the USPS setting Monday and Thursday as the only days it delivers, but retaining their monopoly.

    BTW, next time someone says that USPS is a private company or any such BS, remind them that private companies that hold monopolies and then cut hours and/or raise prices are viewed very dimly.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    First class mail is a money loser in 2013, and third class mail depends on the customer having no choice but to accept it. A power I don't think we'd want to give private companies.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Lysander Spooner is laughing somewhere.

  • sarcasmic||

    My stepbrother is a mail carrier, and according to him the problem is that once someone makes management they have a job for life. Kinda like anything government related. Schools, bureaucracies, whatever. Untold money is wasted on layers and layers of useless management.

    He joked that they would close down an office but keep the manager employed.

    I don't doubt him.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    The worst junk mail of all is holiday cards. I never send them to anybody. Why do people keep sending them to me? I have even voiced my concern about how stupid and wasteful cards are many times.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Because they're nice?

  • Art Vandelay||

    WAR ON CHRISTMAS!!

  • AlmightyJB||

    Instead of not doing saturday delivery they should only do saturday delivery.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    The key is to charge the market price for the delivery of mail. It costs far more than the price of a stamp to mail a letter.

    I don't give a shit of they only deliver mail once a week, if it costs more to mail the letter than they charge they will continue to lose money.

  • Free||

    They need to increase their revenues and cut their costs. Instead they're simply decreasing service. That's how the govt thinks. Decreasing service and not cutting prices is typically a non-starter in the private sector, but in the government that's the first plan of attack.

    Raise the price of postage and get rid of these leeches making $84k delivering mail.

    They already mis-deliver mail on a regular basis to my crib. Having an even less "skilled" mail-frau cannot possibly make things worse.

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