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Should We Eliminate the U.S. Postal Service?

This article was written by in Consumer, Featured. 76 comments.


I don’t bother checking my mailbox every day. Most of the paper mail I receive is junk, and I’m sure the same is true for most households. Unlike Gmail, I can’t create an automated filter to organize my paper mail, and there is no built-in junk-mail screen. As a result, 95% of what I receive in my mailbox goes right to the recycle bin or the shredder. While walking to the mailbox is a nice break in the day and offers an opportunity for some exercise, it’s mostly a waste of effort.

MailboxesVery few important documents are sent by mail. Almost all official paperwork I need to deal with is emailed, scanned if not initially generated on a computer or if requiring a signature. Even fax machines are obsolete, at least for me. I’ve eliminated almost all checks I receive and send in favor of electronic payments. I’m not the only one who is receiving less overall mail; the reduction in volume is part of the reason the U.S. Postal Service needs to cut costs.

To save money, the Postal Service is offering $20,000 buy-outs to workers to eliminate costs. The government is considering cutting mail delivery to five days, eliminating service on Saturday. One possible way for the organization to survive is to offer service more like commercial delivery services like UPS and FedEx, where the focus is on packages and commercial delivery. Or, rather than competing with the private sector, close down the business.

This may not be a good time to eliminate the 580,000 Postal Service jobs, with unemployment still high and millions looking for jobs. The agency is the second largest employer of civilians in the United States, and an immediate elimination of the Postal Service would have a devastating effect to the economy. Taking a long-term view, perhaps it’s a good idea for the Postal Service to be phased out — and the current announcement is a step in that direction.

The Postal Service doesn’t receive funding from the government. The agency is designed to operate through its own revenue, but it hasn’t been very successful. Should the U.S. Postal Service be eliminated?

Photo: i-am-marvin

Updated September 27, 2011 and originally published March 25, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar shellye ♦107 (Cent)

In some ways, the USPS is a great deal; you can send a letter, card, etc. clear across the country or Alaska or Hawaii for a whopping 44 cents. Obviously the USPS has to compete with other businesses for a piece of the consumer dollar, so they have to keep up with technology. I almost always use their automated kiosk to buy postage and send packages. Not sure if you could ever eliminate the post office entirely, but maybe they need to automate more services and gradually scale back the number of employees. But I hate the thought of putting more people out of work.

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avatar LifeAndMyFinances

Yeah, I don’t think anyone really needs the USPS anymore. The only thing I ever need to mail is packages. Everything else can be sent through email (If you have a hardcopy, just scan it). I feel the same way about newpapers. I’ve never subscribed to the newspaper, and don’t understand why someone would pay for something that they can get for free online, or from television.

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avatar lettercarrier

The United States Postal Service is the only secure form of communication. It is the only business-company required to pay retirees benefits for 75 years in the future in 10 years. That alone cost 5.5 BILLION DOLLARS EVERY SEPTEMBER. We are the only business/company told what price we can charge for our products. (Postal Regulatory Commission). If you owned a business/company and you had a financial crisis at hand would you raise your product one cent or would you raise you product enough to cover expenses? Over the last 30 years the United States Postal Service has not kept pace with the rate of cost in gasoline for transportation of its poduct, nor with utilities cost for its buildings for operational expenses, and for government mandating. What other business/company has its hands tied by the government. And while you don’t appreciate your mail carrier, have you ever thought about anyone else besides yourself. We are your neighborhood watch program. We are your community action program (food drive second Saturday in May for the area food banks – September MDA- carrier alert for elderly- first responders in the neighborhood). Yes even we deliver the remains of our extended families home. We watch as the kids get off the schoolbus and when no ones home – lending the phone so the kids won’t stand out in the cold. We serve our communities and our communties know the value of their letter carriers.

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avatar Tomte

It’s hard for those of us who work in the IT world to imagine, but digital adoption rates are only in the low double digit percentages. I think the Post Office will be around for a while yet.

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avatar Steve

The problem the USPS has is that their services and prices are both regulated; and on top of that they have a regulatory mandate that they remain profitable.

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avatar tom

While I see Shellye’s point of view… we are paying for the USPS upfront in our taxes. We subsidize the 44 cent letter.

I say get rid of it. UPS, FedEx and DHL can do it cheaper and faster.

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avatar John

Moron. Your taxes do not have anything to do with the USPS.

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avatar tom

Moron?

Keepin’ it classy eh, John? Maybe you should take a break from commenting for a while. It’s obvious you can’t abide by the simple rules of civil discourse.

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avatar Randy F

tom, the USPS has not received any taxpayer money from the Federal Government for operational expenses since 1984. There is a payment that is made to the USPS under the Revenue Foregone Act that partially pays the USPS for handling special rate mail such as Non Profit Bulk Mail rates, Library Mail and Free Matter for the Blind.

However, it is not a subsidy, it is payment for service rendered. The postal Regulatory Commission is in place to ensure that each class of mail pays for itself and one class of mail is not keeping rates of another class artificially low.

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avatar cindy

Hate to be the one to tell you this, but the USPS does NOT receive ANY TAX MONEY. ALL of it’s expenses are from the sale of postage and other items. Now, if you want to talk about wasted funds, let’s talk about CONGRESS. Why is it, they cry about the USPS, yet, they gave themselves raises, get ALL their health care paid for, get a whopping retirement package, and yet, pay NOTHING for postage on all the junk they send out. What you fail to understand is they are robbing the USPS to pay the budget and for other federal retires health care. Now, if FEDEX and UPS can do it cheaper, why is it BOTH of them use the usps to deliver the last mile for the majority of their packages?
First of all, the USPS could become solvent if they did NOT have to pay a whopping 5.5 million to congress….a fee NO OTHER private or government agency has to pay. Without this fee, the USPS would be making a yearly PROFIT….and that is WITHOUT any kind of tax money, which they DO NOT RECEIVE., Fact, the USPS is forced to bail out the federal government on a yearly basis. Funny, even though it’s been proven the USPS overpaid on health requirements, congress decided to charge them MORE. The USPS could be solvent by just allowing them to NOT BAIL OUT THE GOVERNMENT. Funny how the government said they could not refund the overpayment because it would cause rates to go up for other government agency’s health care AND break the bank. Hmmm, if YOU overpaid by millions, wouldn’t YOU want a refund? Please get your facts straight. The USPS gets NO TAX MONEY is is basically bailing out the government with it’s preposterous overpayments.

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avatar rewards ♦31 (Newbie)

USPS may not receive any direct funds, but what is the cost to all of us associated with this government sanctioned monopoly? i.e. private express statute (no other company is allowed to deliver letters) and mailbox access rule (no other company is allowed to touch our mailboxes)?

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avatar Randy F

So, you would have no problem with anybody and everybody being permitted to have access to your mailbox? You would not be concerned that the guy passing out flyers for the local pizza joint looking through the mail in your mailbox? You would not have a problem if that guy would steal your identity? You would have no problem with that crime no longer being a felony and that the US Postal Inspection Service would not be the ones to investigate?

You see, there are a few advantages to only allowing ONE person or organization access to your mailbox. If anything were to happen, there is only one place to look. Sure, anyone can go into your mailbox at any time, but you have recourse through the Postal Inspectors. It might take a while but they are thorough and boast somewhere around a 96% conviction rate.

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avatar rewards ♦31 (Newbie)

Nothing requires a government granted monopoly (current situation) or pizza boy anarchy (your vision of my future).

In this world of government inspectors, it wouldn’t be that much more difficult to allow one or two more vetted and bonded organizations access to my mailbox. I think most people would trust UPS or FedEx with access to their mailboxes.

avatar Randy F

Sorry, but it would be a universal situation. That is the way that this works all or none. It would not be a bad idea, like you said, to have bonded and vetted companies be the only ones but, when it comes to UPS or FedEx, what do they deliver most of the time? Would that fit in to your mailbox?

You think that you get a lot of Bulk Business Mail now? Wait to see how stuffed your mailbox becomes.You could be getting so much junk from companies that do not use Bulk Mail now.

UPS and FedEx can carry and deliver ordinary letter mail now, if they wish. There is a provision in the Private Express Statute that permits that to happen. Can you take a guess at why they do not do so?

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avatar rewards ♦31 (Newbie)

I actually get fairly little junk mail. Maybe because every time they include a SASE I mail it right back to them with “take off list”. Regardless, why would junk mail increase if the mailbox access rule was loosened?

Also, I honestly don’t know why USP/FedEx doesn’t deliver much ordinary letter mail. Is it because they have no place to deliver if the adressee is not present? Whereas packages tend not to fly away.

avatar Randy F

The provision in the Private Express Statute that allows for a private carrier to carry and deliver items covered by the statute requires that they collect a minimum of 3 times the rate charged by the USPS.

As far as receiving more junk in your mailbox, think about your hometown. Even a town of 5-10,000 probably has a couple of mom and pop pizza shops, some convenience stores and restaurants. Now, think about the bulk mail that you get and how much of that is from businesses in your town. Open up the mailbox and that would allow any and all of these businesses to pay some kid $50 to go from house to house stuffing a flyer of some sort in to the mailbox. Because they would not have to meet minimum requirements to bulk mail through USPS, it is very likely that you will see ads from more of the locals in your mailbox.

avatar Margo

They can do it cheaper and faster…if you live in cities. not so for the rural routes

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avatar me

Tom

not to jump on you too, but FedEx and UPS is not the answer (DHL is more out of the business than in). Actually, UPS pays the USPS to deliver their packages in most rural areas of America. They FedEx and UPS only want to deal with major metro areas and businesses.

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avatar Patricia Bartoshevich

Dear Tom, your taxes do not pay for the USPS. You typed that UPS, FED-EX, and DHL are cheaper? LOL

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avatar nimrodel ♦42 (Newbie)

I don’t know that I’d want to eliminate it entirely. There are still times where you need to send checks and things like that. I think they could cut the days they deliver mail, though. I wouldn’t care if I only got mail 3x per week.

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avatar cubiclegeoff ♦896 (Dime)

I agree with this. Every couple of days would be fine with me. Not that I want to see people lose jobs, but cut the carrier jobs in half and give two routes to each person. They do one route every other day, so mail is delivered on each route 3 times a day. For special packages, have those delivered separately.

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avatar Randy F

Interesting idea. Not really viable, but interesting. You see, all the First Class mail is processed and sorted mostly on the 11-7 shift. There would be little to no mail left to process to make up two more deliverys per day.

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avatar Evan

There is something to say about the government having at least a hand in the flow of mail in a country, however, I can’t figure out why there is Saturday delivery. Anything important (bills, checks, etc.) can’t be used until Monday anyway…

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avatar rewards ♦31 (Newbie)

In the same vein, anything important that is delivered on Tuesday and Thursday can wait until Wednesday or Friday. I say only have home delivery on Monday Wednesday and Friday, and only have post office branches open Tuesday Thursday and Saturday (being open Saturday is important for all us M-F working folk).

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avatar cubiclegeoff ♦896 (Dime)

With banks starting to even open on Sundays, this could change.

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avatar Evan

Even with banks open on Saturdays (ton by me in NY) it doesn’t matter because everything is processed on Monday morning.

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avatar Barb

If you get rid of the USPS, you’re getting rid of a chunk of FedEx, UPS, etc. The large delivery companies use USPS services as part of their business plans.

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avatar Randy F

In addition, FedEx and UPS would suffer because USPS leases space on their aircraft.

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avatar NCN

While many of us have moved away from paper-based bills and now use email to communicate, a large majority of people still write checks, mail letters, and use the post office. Even in our small town, the post office is usually busy. I think it will be around for years to come, perhaps with some stream-lined services.

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avatar Bobka ♦13 (Newbie)

I agree, and add to this that loss of the post office would result in a horrific problem for our elderly residents who still have not (or cannot) embrace electronic means to monitor accounts and pay bills.

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avatar zack

@Tom
As stated in the article, USPS is not funded by the government.
It is what you call a “Government corporation”.

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avatar jim

No they should absolutely not ‘eliminate’ the post office.

The USPS delivers over 80 billion items a year. Thats still a pretty big deal.

True we use it less and less and it will need to adjust to the times. THat means cutting back and scaling down.

I think the govt. should step back and let the USPS have more control to manage itself. Congress gets to pass laws to require USPS do do stuff,. Congress doesn’t let the USPS close offices which unnecessarily costs it money. They are also required to fund the pension fully which no other private or govt. entity is required to do. That alone is a large part of the USPS loses. USPS has its hands tied behind its back by the govt. meddling.

Besides, how would I get my Netflix? ;-)

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avatar Randy F

jim, USPS delivers around 160 Billion pieces each year. I very much agree with your thought of quashing Congressionmal meddling.

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avatar Chad

I’m not financial expert by any means, but I belive this post by ‘jim’ says alot about the problem. I think we all could agree that the reason the USPS cannot make a dime anymore is mostly due to the lack of mail to deliver because of advancements in technology. Now, not being a business or financial manager but computing this all in my little head, I would assume that a business, with less services to perform, needs to cut costs and employees in order to stay out of the red. But wait, there is a union involved…can’t do any of that so I guess they just have to stay in business, making less money then they spend…so that leaves them just short of begging for a bailout. I give them to the end of their next fiscal quarter and this will come up. Need I say more, can we not recognize why this country is out of financial control? I think if we can put feelings aside, answer these questions logically, the answers are clear.

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avatar Will @ HackingTheBank.com ♦258 (Nickel)

I think that keeping the USPS is valuable for the country as a whole. Many people don’t utilize technology and still need access to information. Rates need to be raised to reflect the cost. Also, I think the USPS could go down to four days if necessary. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday? I dunno. I’m sure they will figure out something.

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avatar Geoff Hazel

Let’s not, at least not quite yet. I use it (and so do many other sellers) for ebay shipments. I presume the USPS is pricing those parcel post and priority mail to make a little money, and they are often the low cost leader for shipping small items.

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avatar Meg

In my major city 20% didn’t have internet access at home. Many of these folks have phones that get online, but getting documents doesn’t work so well. Others just are not tech savvy or can’t afford it. The public library and even Burger King have access, but with time limits, privacy concerns, and restrictions on downloading programs.

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avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

As an ebayer, I can ship more reasonably with the USPS, so I’d hate to see it go. I could live with five day delivery. I do get mounds of junk mail, but I believe there is some way to opt out of that….I must look into that. If I had to ship my ebay items by UPS, and charge accordingly, I’d probably not sell a thing.

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avatar Todd

I don’t think you need to shut it down as much as reorganize. I believe that the salaries are too much for most as it is with much of the government. When you are paying $60,000 a year for a job that you could be paying $28,000 a year, that adds up to several billion dollars. You reorganize the salaries and like what was previously posted go to 4 workdays a week, this could be a feasible business.

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avatar Randy F

You’re just looking at the salary and that isn’t the whole story. I, and I think any person, will put up with a lot of inconvience and abuse for $60k a year that I would not dream of for $28k. Besides, talking just the salary part of it. I have 27 years in and make under $55k.

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avatar Craig

I work with individuals and couples filing bankruptcy. Many of them don’t have access to a computer, which means I have to send them their “Bankruptcy Filing Packet” through the mail. In addition, I don’t have the money to set up a secure server that would allow me to feel comfortable transmitting social security numbers, account numbers, etc. via email. Thus, for me the USPS is a lifesaver.

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avatar Mike

A $20,000 buy-out? Tell the most senior workers that their pay is going to be cut by $5,000 and you’ll see how many jump ship when the average salary for their pension is threatened to be reduced. Why should we provide a positive incentive to leave?

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avatar Randy F

The buyout is paid in two installments of $10k in November 2011 and Nov 2012. As I read the outlines, the buyout may not be available to all that decide to retire. There is also an VERO, Voluntary Early Retirement Option for those that are at least 50 and have at least 25 years of service. The buyout part may prompt some of these people to consider taking the option. You see, under the CSRS, the retiree receives 2% of their average high three years of earnings. Therefore, someone with 25 years of service would be giving up 10% of that money for the rest of their lives.

For example, since these are management people, lets make it easy and assume an average high three of $75,000. At 30 years, the worker would receive 60% or $45,000. With only 25 years, that would be reduced to 50% or $37,500. The buyout payment of $10,000 in the first two years would soften that difference of $7500, every year.

Another scenario would be someone that has over 30 years already and would retire if only their kids were done with college or their mortgage was paid off. Any number of other personal financial factors could be in play in the decision.

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avatar Dave

The USPS provides a useful service. It will be around long after worthless blogs are gone.

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avatar wylerassociate ♦162 (Cent)

I don’t want the USPS to be closed but I agree wtih todd that it should be reorganized.

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avatar Amy

A Postal worker told me a story about a day he was working at a proccessing and distribution center. A mail sorter identified a letter that only had a name, city and state. He called out: “Does anyone know a (name, city-state)?” And the letter was delivered. If you miss a single character in an e-mail address, it will never get there.

Every day, postal delivery employees check in on elderly customers and report suspicious or potentially hazordous situations to police. In many small towns, the Post Office is the local social networking site to connect with neighbors. The Postal Service is an essential link to the outside world to many extremely remote U.S. locations – all for the same price of one stamp. Think of what those holiday cards or wedding invitations would cost you in your otherwise affordable suburban or rural location if a private sector company was setting the rates.

Yes, USPS needs to adapt, and it needs to have more flexibility to do so. But “eliminate” it?

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avatar rewards ♦31 (Newbie)

If you value the “social services” that USPS provides, why not directly fund a social services program and avoid all the extra costs?

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avatar Hunter

The USPS must stay. It provides a valuable service. Are there any examples of countries that have totally privatized their mail…successfully?

I think the buyouts are a glimpse into what they are doing as an organization to better align their cost structure with reality. I would like to see them take the lead on alternative fuel transportation for their fleet.

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avatar Randy F

Look at news releases at usps.com and you will see that the USPS already has one of the largest fleets of alternative fuel vehicles in the world.

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avatar Hunter

I’m struck by the arrogant tone of your response.

A press release issued by the USPS is designed to make USPS look good.

I don’t believe that adding E85 capable vehicles counts as alternative. E85 is a loser, in terms of energy in and energy out, and it screws up the price of food for all of us. Are those vehicles even fueled with E85? Maybe not.

I wouldn’t call them a leader.

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avatar Randy F

I was not even considering Flex Fuel capable vehicles. Look to independent sources of information on environmental issues then. The stories will be the same.

You will see that the USPS is firmly committed to being a responsible organization. Everything from recycling initiatives to reducing energy consumption in its facilities to the use of vehicles powered by electricity, CNG and even Hydrogen Fuel Cells. USPS was chosen to test Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles to determine their viability for real world applications as well as its own commercial applications.

Exclusive of your E85 assertion, USPS has one of the largest fleets of alternative fuel vehicles in the world.

If you detected an “arrogant tone” I apologize. No “tone” was intended. Simply directing you to an area where you could see the 100+ environmental awards that USPS has been given over the years.

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avatar Robert @ The College Investor

I agree, the USPS must stay. My online sales business was my first bread and butter side hustle. I sold more stuff through eBay and other sites than I could imagine. USPS is much cheaper and easier to use for small businesses than UPS or FEDEX. USPS could stand to raise its prices by 20% or more, and they would still beat the other carriers.

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

no, the USPS needs to remain. that said, there is no doubt changes need to be made. it is hard to decide where and when cuts need to be made, without knowing all the numbers, but i think a good start would be to eliminate one day of service. i still think that saturday should remain, as many people may not be able to get to the post office during the week. perhaps cut out tuesday or wednesday.

in addition, while i do not want to see prices increase even more, at least with packages, perhaps a dime increase in the cost of stamps. not a penny here or there every 14 months. i mean, i would think there is a high volume of letters sent, and as others have stated, it is still pretty amazing that one can send a letter from maine to california for .44 and get it there in a few days.

lastly, i would imagine there simply needs to me some major reorganizing.

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

I do use the USPS. I am one of the throwbacks who like the written word so I send cards and letters through the mail. But I do say that they need to tighten up so that they are a profitable business. Most businesses would be out of business if they could not turn a profit or become self supporting.

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avatar Yana ♦218 (Cent)

I’d hate to see the demise of USPS. Nobody delivers a package faster in the US for the price – much faster than UPS. There’s a huge difference between 3 and 8 days. The post office is my first choice to send or receive packages. Of course I don’t do much mail anymore, but nobody does it better than the post office. Unfortunately and understandably, morale is way down and it shows, because service is not as outstanding as it used to be.

I think it would be a huge and harmful thing to the country to eliminate the post office.

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avatar Tom

The USPS will fail if it needs to fail. As it receives no tax money, there’s no problem with it. Just like Circuit City, if it’s going to go out of business, it’ll do it on its own time.

Plus, the cost of shipping is much better with the USPS. eBay is pretty much the reason stamps aren’t 60+ cents right now. Amazon utilizes it, and it provides jobs. What’s wrong with that? (P.S. imagine how expensive shipping with UPS would be if they didn’t have this competition)

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avatar tigernicole86 ♦55 (Newbie)

Truth be told, it would make me very sad if it were eliminated. Three of my siblings are located on military bases in other countries/U.S. territories, and that would make it difficult to send them care packages and would make me think more than twice about sending those clothes/cookies/hard copies of pictures that make life a little more comfortable. Plus, the package rates are way more affordable with USPS. I can send a 7lb package to Chicago for $30 and it’s guaranteed to be there next day by noon(and I’ve done this several times now so i know!) or I could send the same package through UPS and FedEx and it would cost me 3 times as much and I’d be lucky if it got there before they stopped delivering the next day by 7p.m. Amazing.

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avatar Hunter

How soon would we be paying a fee-for-email if the USPS went the way of the Mammoth?

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avatar OrchidGirl ♦16 (Newbie)

As long as the USPS is able to cover their cost with the revenue they recieve (and are allowed to increase prices when necessary by congress), I don’t know why we would be talking about closing them down. I do not understand valuing a company or organization more for how much of a profit they generate than by what services and products they provide (as long as they do not go under of course).

Plenty of business, from home based to Netflix, depend on them. They are also one of the most cost-effect ways to send packages and mail for the individual. I cannot negotiate a large contract with UPS for the 10 or so packages I send a year. The USPS is far from unused even today. Sure, restructuring will be required from time to time, but all successful businesses need to adapt.

I didn’t see anyone else address this, but because the USPS is a federally run, the fraud laws are much stricter and far reaching than for other forms of communication such as email or phone calls.

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avatar Tom Bicanic

I strongly disagree for people such as myself consider the United States a great shopping market and have bought many things from the US. Even thought for a buyer located in Australia postage is quite expensive to have articles or item registered or tracked to prevent damage or loss I rather it being there then pay an arm and a leg on courier costs. Australia Post isn’t the most trustworthy postal service but if registered post is great, and for that it is booming in profit. If theft and missing mail didn’t occur and the business was honest with items missing people will have more faith and trust in postal service and that would result in people selling their items on eBay, auction sites and the likes and that will increase the profits of the postal service and result in the continuing boom and profits.

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avatar crashdamage1957

I can do without junk mail.. but a world without the USPS is a world without Netflix. ;)
(Yeah I know… download/streaming is the way forward. But that option is looking alot less viable now that most broadband internet operators are limiting how many megachomps use can suck up without whacking you with surcharges and fees. )
Yes, 80% of the mail i get in my Rural route Delivery mailbox is junk mail, and i could probably adjust no mail on Saturday, but I think we are at least 100 years away from being able to eliminate the USPS without somebody noticing. I have found USPS to in many cases be a preferred shipping option to either UPS or FedEx, and still is the best way to send condolence cards.

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avatar Justin @ MoneyIsTheRoot

Quite honestly they should probably limit mail service to 5 days a week, at least to start. It’s kind of interesting when you consider what the USPS means to companies like Netflix, and especially Hallmark. How big of a hit would it be to Hallmark if the USPS wasnt delivering mail during the Christmas season? They would have to get heavy into the e-card biz.

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avatar TakeitEZ ♦549 (Dime)

I agree with those who believe USPS just needs to cut maybe a day or two of service during the week and slim down their workforce. Their service is still relied upon by the majority of the US citizens and a complete shutdown would be crazy.

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avatar Yana

I use mail services and delivery at a mail store, and my FedEx packages are delivered there by the US Postal Service.

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦85 (Newbie)

I think five-times-a-week service is a good idea. However, I’d hate to see the USPS go the way of the dodo. What will happen to folks in rural areas who get their mail in a P.O. box? Or who can’t get private-carrier delivery because they don’t have street addresses/proximity to private carriers? Would FedEx or UPS find it profitable to drive 100 miles into the back of beyond to deliver a book you ordered online?
I’m also thinking of rural America (especially Alaska), where companies like Mail Boxes Etc. wouldn’t find it profitable to operate. How will people get their mail?
Oh, and a suggestion to folks who don’t check their mailboxes very often: If they’re open, i.e., if they don’t lock, then check them every day. If you were to get a credit-card offer a potential identity thief might get there first.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

I see your point- to a point. You’re forgetting about the Boomers. I do some things online, but I like to have something concrete in my hand. If a bill doesn’t get paid because of a glitch in a computer program, you pay for it, not the company. There are so many things that can happen to the internet, especially in the rural areas.

How about the post office becomes privatized – like the other delivery companies? That may be a good step in the right direction.

Junk mail? Opt out. It only takes a few minutes online.

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avatar Randy F

Privatization is certainly not the panacea that many think it would be. UPS and FedEx have both stated that they have no interest in carrying letter mail.

There are a number of countries that have privatized their Postal Services. The thing that you need to understand is that all of those different countries combined, still have less geographical area than the US. These other Post Corporations also offer other, non-postal, services such as banking and utility services to help with the bottom line.

One country that come to mind is New Zealand that privatized a few years ago. The people wanted it because of a promise of lower rates. They got lower rates, for local mail. If I recall, to send a letter within the same town cost about 25¢ BUT, to send a letter from one end of the country to the other was several dollars.

A study was done probably 10 years ago when privatizing came up and it was estiamted that letters could be delivered within the same city for probably 10¢ but to send a letter from New ork to California would be closer to $7.50. Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam and other territories were over $10. Think about it now, how many items that you mail are really within the same city? This would also prompt even more people to consider using online services for waht they rpeviously mailed.

You sell off the USPS and you lose the Universal Service. No company is going to buy a company if it is going to be hobbled by Government intervention and meddling and not allow it to set its own rates. If the buyers are left unfettered, your rates could change on a monthly basis by the addition of surcharges.

Privatization is not the answer. Free up the USPS to be better able to respond to market changes on a more timely basis, refund the overpayment to the Civil Service Retirement System, estimated at between $50 and $75 Billion. use that funding to prefund the health benefits of future retirees thus eliminating the $5.5 Billion payment into that fund, and the USPS would be just fine.

If you recall, the USPS was turning a profit back in the mid ’90s and had even completely paid off everything and was debt free at the end of FY 1996.

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avatar Abby Freedman ♦137 (Cent)

USPS is a LOT cheaper than UPS and FedEx most of the time — forget how much letters would end up costing! Keep the postal service!

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avatar Mr Green Jeans

This is purely an environmental issue. We used to think of time in terms of B.C. and A.D. Now that we understand the relevance of that metric, we can now move to B.I. and A.I. (Before Internet being ahead of the year 2000 and After Internet being thereafter) and look at the world accordingly.

So now that we are in year 11 A.I., we can recognize that he postal service is a monutmental envrionmental disaster. Thousands of 5-10 MPG Jeeps driving around all day passing out former trees covered with useless information (99% useless anyway).

The postal service and all it’s employees and facilities should be transitioned to supporting public internet access. Computers in the postal buildings with postal workers trained on how to run an electronic postal service.

I loved the typewriter too. Typing class was the only “A” I got in high school. But it’s dead, just like USPS mail (Netflix people should start using on demand if you can live with this massive change).

Bottom line is there is no value in the USPS and it’s a huge environmental catastrophy the likes of the Gulf spill going on every day except Sunday.

But because of the thinking in this string, the rhetoric will keep the USPS in place for 100 years at least.

But for me, at least this reminded me to make my weekly trip to the mailbox to get my Saturday night campfire kindling!

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avatar Jon

Heres a simple test. Take a package to your local post office. Ask them how much it will cost to ship it to the furthest city in the US from your home town. Have them tell you the charges for each of their basic services. Express Mail, (overnight) Priority Mail, (2-3 days) and Parcel Post (1-7 days). Then take the same package to UPS or FedX. Ask them the same question. The results will be the difference as to why the postal service is going bankrupt, and why UPS and FedX make a profit. If UPS and FedX charged the same as the post office, they would be out of business sooner then it would take you to say “Going Postal”! Now should the post office raise their rates by 20%-40% to be more competitive with UPS and FedX—-and cut their loses?

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avatar Dan

It may be true that some of which gets sent in the mail is just recycled paper. For those that do not have internet or the older population that doesn’t use it snail mail is their only source of delivery. Many businesses use USPS as well.

As you said, the Post office is completely funded by those who DO use it. It does not use any tax dollars and you don’t pay if you don’t use it. Now in a lame duck session of congress, the right voted to force the prefunding of health care for 75 years out to be paid over a ten year period. This is for employees that won’t be hired for 30 years! The amount that the USPS needs to pay because of this is 5.8 BILLION per year over the next 10 years. Keep in mind, the USPS hasn’t had a problem with paying for health care for their retirees. The other stipulation the right made was that there can not be a raise in delivery prices. How can you suddenly raise 5.8 BILLION per year with no change in price. Since that was sent through congress 3 years ago, the post office has not been able to pay towards that health care. Who’s fault is it? Is it the USPS or the right wingers in congress forcing a failure?

A bill is being introduced in congress and hopefully it passes. The USPS has an overage in its pension by about 50 billion. The USPS would like to shift the money from the pension to the health care account clearing this whole thing up. Some in congress are halting this but Rep. Stephen Lynch and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking Democratic member on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Wednesday unveiled a bill they said would preserve jobs and increase profit without slashing services. The problem is that the Postal Service is the ONLY agency that is required to prefund health benefits for its retired workers.

Now you say Privatize the postal service. Let it be known that the post office delivers appox. 20% of the packages from Fed-ex and UPS because it’s more cost efficient and those companies do not service some rural areas. Cut the service and those in rural areas may be out of luck.

So why do it? So someone can take it over and pay less and give less benefits and make lots of money. Trust me, service will not be in their vocabulary. Gas, Electric and Oil, need I say more?

Your not the only one in the United States that receives mail. If you don’t use it fine, but many Americans still do. To layoff as many as 200,000 workers is just another sign that the GOP will do anything to make this administration fail. There comes a day when you have to ask yourself: Are you an American or a party member? This is not the thing to do when our jobless rate is as high as it is. Do I agree with everything our president has done? No, but it would be nice to see some bi-partisan work to get this country going again.

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avatar Alex

The act of physically sending paper through the mail is completely antiquated. In today’s world there’s no need to create a physical copy of a document and hand that to someone who will physically move it to its destination. The same thing can be achieved to near zero cost electronically.
We have existing services for sending packages (UPS, FedEX, etc.). Obviously it’s politically a non-starter since it would, as you point out, involve laying off 500,000 people but the USPS should be eliminated.

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avatar BringBackManufacturing

I enjoy purching things online and I enjoy having a choice on how I want my packages sent. Until the day comes when the internet can magically pop out my herbs and vitimins, I want the USPS to deliver my vitamins.

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avatar Amy LifeStar

No way, the US Postal Service “Definitely and Truly SHOULD NOT and OUGHT NOT TO BE ELIMINATED” for the “Sacredness and Code of its Authentic and Original Purpose, Mission, and Vision to Deliver Important Messages in paper format to the Recipients!”

The truth of the matter is there is always a difference in “authenticity, effectiveness, and purity” between online or electronic communication vs. hard copy documents and anything that needed to be sent to the intended recipients by mail that many of us today are still embracing and honoring such “old-fashioned and pure technique of delivering messages to our intended recipients” whether the subject matter of our mail is related family, social, government, educational, financial, etc. matters!

As you can see, a hard copy mail is something tangible, vivid, and more truthful; and we as human beings related quite differently and “less effectively and less accurately” to electronic version of messages documents, or photographs compared to actually viewing, touching, and sensing the authenticity and purity of a hard copy of documents, birthday or Christmas card, or photograph!

Now with regard to the Junk Mail such as the advertisements from the groceries, stores, value-pack, Penny Savers, etc. we received in our mail box involuntarily and without our consent, right now, we need a “New Rule” for the US Postal Service that these Advertisers shall not require and press the post office to drop these “useless and ineffective advertisements on the residence’s mail box if the resident requested the post office not to receive such advertisements and if the US Postal Service limited the times of these advertisements being dropped in the resident’s mail box!”

First and foremost, the cost for these advertisers to “spend all these money on useless and ineffective advertisements is unnecessary” because the truth of the matter is residents hardly buy the services or products from these mail advertisements! Secondly, these advertisers could have spent these advertising and printing expenses on other line of their business for promoting the true welfare of others and the community and in turn promoting the welfare of humanity! Thirdly, these mail advertisements weighed quite heavy for the US Postal Service workers to process, administer, and to deliver to unintended recipients of the town, etc. simply for marketing its own products and services that have “no target audience” which could, would, and have physically and functionally impaired certain body functions of the mailman or mailwoman! With that being said, the US Postal Service workers could and would function more effectively and cost efficiently if these “useless and ineffective mail advertisements are being eliminated to the unintended audience or recipient!”

Thank you my fellow human beings!

Sincerely,

Amy LifeStar

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avatar John

All you people who are willing to eliminate the whole postal service? You have no personality.

Don’t you prefer to get real mail, written by hand, from your loved ones, boyfriends or girlfriends? Don’t you like to order something from eBay and have it show up as soon as possible? Don’t you like knowing that your mail is safe, and that if anyone messes with it, they will be guilty of a federal offense?

Your life is not affected if the postal service is constantly losing millions. It is not meant to be profitable. It is not a private, profit-driven company. It is a part of our social system, one of the things that makes it great to live in the US, like driving on great Interstate highways and accessing every beachfront in the nation for free. I can mail my girl a letter for less than 50 cents, or just over a dollar if she’s overseas. I love getting postcards to put on my fridge or wall. I don’t want to be stuck on this computer for everything I do in my written life.

Also, if you are worried about the post office losing money, which I’d like to repeat, has NO EFFECT ON YOU or YOUR FINANCES, then why don’t you insist that government stop the communist policy of subsidizing food crops? Do you know how many billions we waste to pay farmers to overproduce bland food like bleached wheat, lab-altered soybeans, white rice and boring corn? We grow too much cheap junk, and it’s not good for you to eat it. Most of it gets wasted, turned into artificial food ingredients, or dumped on world markets, which ruins economies in many countries.

If you are going to threaten my beloved postal service, then be consistent. Kill the crop subsidies! Otherwise, be quiet. It’s not affecting you if your postal service is losing money. Not everything can operate at a profit. Look what has happened to the cost of necessary medicine, now that drug companies are high-priced stocks. Many sick and suffering people can’t afford their medication!

You people watch too much news, and learn too little real truth. You need to worry about your own lives, and stop thinking you can fix the world by balancing its books. Some things are not meant to make money.

Get a hobby, and stop playing armchair consultants.

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avatar Aaron

The Postal Service is doomed as long as it can’t run itself individually from the government. It needs to become sovereign. Then it can file bankruptcy like any other business and make null all of the stupid union contracts that are based on greed and deception. When the unions were first born they stood for protecting the workers and were a good thing. Now there is to much corruption and greed within them. There is so much abuse of the Postal Service union contracts that it is running them into the ground. I worked 10+years for the Postal Service in a higher managerial position and saw abuses of theft, and greed throughout. Grievances because a Supervisor picked up a letter from the floor and now the clerk or carrier should get paid an exorbitant amount of money. I’ve seen clerks and carriers stealing money from birthday and Christmas cards and prosecuted for it and reported on the Postal Inspectors and OIG website but get ignored. The Union is about greed and it protects those people that violate the trust of the people and take advantage of the contracts. I was in the Union when I started and saw the abuses and how the politics protected the liars and abuser more than the honest members. The unions preach they are the best for the USPS but the fact of the matter is the USPS and the government has created a monster that it can no longer control. The USPS needs to stop with the propaganda both to itself, the public and to its employees. They change the criteria and gloat on the good stuff rather than what they do poorly. Now we pay more for a stamp for mail that takes longer to get to its destination and are seeing more and more lost mail….isn’t that the opposite of supply and demand?

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