Time to move forwardPublished 10:39pm Thursday, February 7, 2013
As with so many problems at the level of the federal government, folks have seen the crisis at the U.S. Postal Service looming on the horizon for years. And for years legislators and, to a lesser degree, postal officials have chosen to close their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears and hope it all went away.
Even in the face of mounting evidence that the Internet was gobbling up the postal service’s once-foundational business of delivering letters and bills to residents across the nation, there has been little apparent effort to streamline operations, cut expenses, extricate the agency from crippling labor agreements or make much of any change that would make it fiscally sound once again.
The bright spot for taxpayers is the fact that under U.S. law, the postal service must be self-supporting, so Congress cannot throw money at it the way it tries to solve so many of the nation’s problems.
Finally this week, the Postmaster General announced a plan that shows leaders in his agency are beginning to take their situation seriously — or that they’re bluffing and expect Congress will move to save the postal service somehow, instead of accepting the proposed medicine. Officials announced on Wednesday that they are seeking congressional approval to stop delivering mail, with the exception of packages, on Saturdays.
The proposal is sure to elicit some frustration and any number of alarming stories about people whose lives will be irrevocably altered by the elimination of Saturday service. People who get paychecks by mail, for instance, will be at risk of having to wait extra days to be paid.
But people and systems adapt far more readily than the purveyors of those kinds of negativity give them credit for, and they’ll soon learn to do without Saturday mail. They’ll alter mail schedules, or they’ll switch to direct deposit or they’ll move banking and correspondence to the Internet. Before long, they’ll wonder what all the fuss was about, anyway.
Whatever the U.S. Postal Service’s motivation for suggesting that it will eliminate Saturday delivery, Congress should move quickly to accept the suggestion. It’s time the agency moved into the 21st century.