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.
Very 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?
Updated September 27, 2011 and originally published March 25, 2011.