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The check will be in the mail a little longer

The hard times keep coming for the Postal Service.

The U.S. Postal Service said a plan to save $2.1 billion a year and fend off possible bankruptcy would effectively put an end to almost all overnight delivery of first-class letters and postcards. Delivery would take at least two to three business days.

The postal service’s decision to relax delivery standards for first-class mail follows its determination in September to close 252 mail processing plants, about half its total. Altogether, about 28,000 employees would lose their jobs.

David Williams, a postal service vice president, said Monday that the agency has little choice but to take drastic steps to reduce operating costs by $20 billion by 2015 in a bid to become profitable. It doesn’t receive taxpayer funding, though it is subject to federal regulations and oversight.

The proposed changes to service standards would allow for “significant consolidation” of facilities, processing equipment, vehicles and the workforce, he said.

The USPS has two big problems: The Internet, and a law requiring them to pre-fund health benefits of future retirees, which the story notes adds an annual cost of about $5.5 billion. Congress could do something about the latter, but they haven’t. As for the former, it seems to me we once invested a lot of money bringing infrastructure to rural areas, which included heavily subsidizing postal service. Maybe we need to do another round of investment, this time in building out Internet bandwidth in these remote areas, so that we can dial back on the postal subsidies. That ought to be a better deal for everyone. Of course, that would take action from Congress as well. Good luck with that.

You can see a list of Texas-based mail distribution centers that will be affected by this here. And to tie things back to the title of this post, here’s a little classic Weird Al:

Don’t ever change, you know what I mean?

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2 Comments

  1. Peter Wang says:

    The vital question is… how do we get the organizations and individuals who still rely on first class mail to get off of it? Then we could shutter the USPS.

    Government is the worst offender. All of my tax bills and fee bills come by first class mail. I send them a check (I do not escrow). If I want to pay my property taxes electronically, I HAVE TO PAY EXTRA, which I refuse to do!

    I met a woman yesterday who seemd about 60 year old, who was apparently Internet illiterate. OMG, what a frightening thought. But there are alot of people like her out there.

  2. mary t. says:

    Electronic correspondence and “snail mail” each have their advantages and disadvantages. During Ike’s aftermath, our block was without power for 17 days, but I still got USPS delivery. I can order gifts online and have them sent to a recipient, but if I have an item in my possession I need to send elsewhere, USPS is the most convenient and cheapest way to do it.

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