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Through Rain, Sleet, Not Anymore

Written by Dennis Sun
Until recently, we all have taken our U.S. Post Office (USPO) for granted, as we could all depend on the Post Office to get us our mail six days a week. No matter what kind of weather we were up against, we just knew it would be there in the mailbox.
    Well, things in the USPO are not for the better, in my mind. First off, they are going broke and lost close to $10 billion last year and $8.5 billion in 2010. Congress doesn’t allow the USPO to lose money, but it can borrow up to $15 billion from the U.S. Treasury. This ad hoc way of funding is similar to the old way we used to fund Amtrak – a stopgap, but it really hinders the USPO from long-term planning.  
    In 2010, the USPO hired three big-name consulting firms to come up with ways to save money or operate in the black. The study identified 50 ways the USPO could improve their bottom line, and then the USPO identified five general areas to work on: pricing, workforce, service employees, retirement benefits and new service.
    Among the bigger changes is to slow down the delivery of mail, cancel Saturday services, look into closing 15,000 post offices nationally, reduce the number of post offices where they sort the mail and eliminate up to 220,000 jobs by 2020. Now remember, the way it’s set up, our USPO is expected to finance itself. It can’t set postal rates or choose it own hours or even determine its own policies – only Congress can do those actions.  
    So, in reality, some say the government needs to subsidize our post offices as they do a lot of other entities, but this may be bad timing to think about doing that. Some say we need to get Congress out of managing the post offices, and that they should be run as a for-profit business, and others say the U.S. should privatize its mail delivery. A number of other countries do subsidize their mail delivery, as it does affect everyone, but whatever plan of attack you use to improve post offices, it still has to be managed like a for-profit business.
    They have to keep mailing costs at levels where everyone will be able to use the post office. There most likely are some post offices they could close, but they need to be aware of how vital some of these post offices are to small rural communities. I’ve heard that the rural post offices only account for one percent of the national post office budget, so what is the big deal? There are three groups of employees in the post office, clerks, sorters and carriers, and strong unions back them, so that could be a big problem. The post office is consolidating post offices where they sort mail, so our mail will be slower, and it already is. At the Roundup we’ve noticed some weekly periodicals that we usually receive on Monday we may now get on Thursday. The good news is that nothing will happen until after elections.
    Dennis