In the range of treatment plans to stanch the hemorrhaging at the U.S. Postal Service, surely the curtailment of Saturday delivery is the least painful. But as with any proposal to change the way the USPS does business, supporters of six-day-a-week mail service are rallying to preserve the status quo.
What to do about a $16 billion deficit at USPS? The protesters don't care. It's not their problem. Every time the Postal Service proposes something other than rate increases to reduce losses, members of Congress and special-interest groups come out of the envelope and put a stop to it.
A more damaging “fix” for deficits is to close underused post offices in small towns and even in parts of big cities. Just as school consolidation raises fears of a loss of community identity, closure of a post office is seen as the final nail in the coffin of a town in decline. We sympathize with the people remaining in those places.
We have less sympathy for those who think ending Saturday mail delivery (saving the USPS $2 billion a year) represents a blow to humanity. Other than retail outlets, most businesses run on a Monday-Friday schedule. Always have. The Postal Service keeps its 20th-century mail delivery schedule in an era when “snail mail” is in serious decline.
Postal workers are naturally concerned about job losses — as many as 22,500 carrier jobs could go. What about the job losses in the private sector because of changing market conditions? Congress doesn't ride to the rescue of those. Thousands of people were once employed to deliver telegrams. Not anymore.
Given the resistance in Congress to doing something fiscally responsible, Saturday first-class mail delivery will likely continue beyond its scheduled expiration in August. Sooner or later, though, six-day mail service will go the way of the telegram.