April 15 2010
To Mail or Not to Mail...That is the Question
Donna Wiesner Keene
In the United States most college students attend state schools, largely funded with state taxpayer money and student financial aid grants and loans subsidized by federal taxpayers. When colleges don't get their requested funding increases from the states, they stop cutting the grass. Alumni and donors are told "we lost our funding, write your legislator."
That the Post Office must cut Saturday deliveries to meet costs is a pure grass-cutting sham, a false front even Senator Olympia Snowe can see through. But instead of a simply case of cutting the grass sooner or later, our shaky economy will take a hit from the reduced delivery schedule. Many businesses depend on daily delivery of the mail, even if the number of letters and checks is slowly eroding based on the spiraling cost increases courtesy of the inefficient post office.
When banks were rapidly losing money due to the high cost of labor decades ago, ATMs gave the financial sector the boost it needed. Now the young generation takes for granted that cash can be dispensed accurately and quickly 24 hours a day, but that is really a recent innovation. A few years ago the Washington, DC Post Offices previewed 24-hour ATM-type machines for stamps and small package postage. The system worked well and the pilot program passed with flying colors, but more 24-hour Automated Service Managers were never populated across the country.
I began to ask post office managers why there was no ATM-type machine in their branch. They never looked at me directly when they said "what about our employees" or "we don't have the space." Invariably I pointed to a vacant corner and said I would use the post office for packages more if there were a machine "over there."
Managers seemed to favor long lines and limited hours, so I accosted a Post Office Board of Governors Member - who is known as a true small government conservative - and got the answer - "people need jobs."
Secure jobs it is, for a dying industry. Perhaps closing on Saturdays and no Saturday delivery is just the solution to our U.S. Post Office situation - eventually, taxpayers will just not mail letters at all, and our government will quit subsidizing stupidity. Before or after our economy falls off Greek's cliff ... that is the question.