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Saving Postal Service requires big changes

Mar. 01, 2013 @ 06:52 AM

Let’s suppose, for purposes of discussion, that the following actual set of facts is relevant to a business currently operating in the United States.

1) This business is currently going in the red at the rate of $25 million every single day.

2) This business has “tapped out” its line of credit with the U. S. Treasury. In fact, it lost $16 billion  in its last fiscal year.

3) From all indications, this business will soon default on its employees’ retirement benefits program.

4)  A spokesperson for this business responded to inquiries about its solvency by “e-mail.”

5) The business is limited by Congress from raising the costs of its services enough to offset its debt and ensure continuation of its services to its customers.

6)  Actually, many of this businesses’ customers are increasingly discovering that they can get better services, better response times and cheaper rates by using internet services, e-mail and delivery systems like UPS and Fed-Ex.

7) This business maintains a presence in nearly every community, large and small, in the country.  It provides an important service for nearly every household every single day, except Sunday.

You’ve guessed it. It’s the U.S. Postal Service.

I go to my local post office every day. I have found the workers to be courteous, friendly and efficient. But, facts are facts. Postage rates have just gone up, but not nearly enough to make up for the aforementioned, humongous losses.

Nine times out of 10, when I go into the post office, at least one or two people are standing before the refuse disposal depositing what is commonly called “junk mail.” This discarding goes on continuously throughout the day. An enormous waste of time and resources! But truth be known, the post office is hanging on only because of “junk mail.” Obviously, “this business” cannot continue to function the way it is currently operating. Any regular company, that is not government-sponsored or government-subsidized, would have long ago closed its doors and gone out of business.

Can the USPS be saved? I don’t know. But, I do know some actions can be taken to help it continue to exist — that is, if it’s survival is necessary. Here are a few suggestions:

1) Stop rural route deliveries. A vast majority of people can walk or drive to their nearest post office to pick up their mail. I remember well that we did it when I was a youngster in rural West Virginia. Box rentals would increase significantly.

2) Close the post office on Saturday. Few users will care, and employees will be happier.

3) No matter what the outcry, close all post offices in what are commonly called “communities.”  Only incorporated townships should have post offices. My postal clerk told me there is a post office in Kentucky that has five regular customers!

4) Eliminate all “free franking” privileges for higher government officials. 

5) And, lastly, bring postal employees’ salaries and benefits in line with similar enterprises. Thirty dollars per hour for a postal clerk is outrageous!

Milt Hankins of Ashland, Ky., is a retired minister, theologian and freelance writer.
 

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