The latest example is the challenge of making the U.S. Postal Service solvent. We all know the problems. Email and texting have taken the place of the personal letter. Businesses have offered financial savings for customers to receive online statements and billing in lieu of paper statements.
The Brave New World of the postman is bulk mail and discounted pre-sorted, causing the mail service to plead for help through cost-cutting.
Hey, the horse and buggy isn’t coming back and neither is the day of personal letters. And when it comes to packages, FedEx and United Parcel Service offer competitive services.
Yet plans to cut costs and curtail non-vital services hit the wall. Rural Americans, those most likely to blame government for bloated spending, howled about the destruction to their communities. The Postmaster General said, “We’ve listened to our customers in rural America, and we’ve heard them loud and clear – they want to keep their post office open.”
Sure they do – and Americans also want the tooth fairy to keep cramming money underneath their bedtime pillows.
In providing another $11 billion cash infusion and imposing a one-year freeze on post office closings, the U.S. Senate did the will of the public, but shirked its obligation to use common sense.
The post office solution isn’t as hard as mastering nuclear physics:
First, stop thinking that every city, town, hamlet, and street corner needs its own post office. The Associated Press noted that conservative folks in tiny Ingomar, Mont. complained about the proposed closing of their post office. The town has a total of 80 people – yet the Senate kept the building open.
Even in populated Davis County, they could justify consolidating post office buildings. Close Centerville and let people drive the long and dusty two miles to the Bountiful location. Close the shoebox building in Farmington and shift the service to the more spacious Kaysville. Less revenue mandates store closings. Why should post offices be any different?
Secondly, get rid of Saturday delivery (or any other day in the middle of the week). I personally enjoy getting Saturday mail service, but I won’t collapse if I’m forced to wait until Monday.
Thirdly, continue the focus on putting new post offices in existing buildings. In Syracuse, Utah, the city handles postal functions in its city office, and the post office in the Harmons Grocery Store in Farmington is an inexpensive addition.
The Post Office has annoyed me in past years raising first-class stamps by a penny here and a penny there, then complaining that it still was losing money. It would have been better off raising the price by a full nickel rather than its annual bleating.
But now the Post Office is trying to act upon reality. And it’s the hypocritical public that is whining and stopping the needed changes.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily of the ownership or management of this newspaper.