Like most people past the age of 40, I
had mixed emotions when I heard the post office is wanting to cut out
Once upon a time, such a proposal would
have sent me into a panic. Growing up in a small town, long before
the Internet, mail was sometimes the only connection you had to the
outside world. Yeah, people have always complained about junk mail,
but when you only had three TV channels to choose from, you could
always hope there would be something wonderful and interesting in the
Since the Internet took hold in the
mid-90's, the post office has become a money losing enterprise.
Reports say it lost about $16 billion last year, which when you break
it down to an hourly cost seems dang near impossible.
But the Bush administration decreed the
post office had to put aside $55 billion in future retirement
benefits and what was a slow decline suddenly had the pedal put to
If you're prone to thinking in such
ways, you could say this was a government attempt to put the post
office out of business. Who in the world has $11 billion a year to
set aside until you hit a number that would even give Bill Gates
The Postmaster said cutting out
Saturday delivery would save $2 billion annually, but compared to a $16 billion loss, that brings to mind the Dutch kid using his finger
to keep a lake's worth of water from flooding the town.
Saturday's being dropped is supposed
to happen in August, giving us enough time to get used to no mail on
the weekend. I say "supposed to" because the post office is
actually overseen by Congress and some congressman are getting all
bent out shape because they weren't asked about it and most have
declared there's no way Saturday delivery is being dropped.
But the postmaster claims he has found
a loophole that will let him do this if he so wishes. If not, all
deliveries on days ending with a "y" could come to an end (see
conspiracy theory above).
The post office won't be completely
closed on Saturdays. If you've got a PO Box, there will be mail in
it and packages will still be delivered. Apparently, package delivery
is the one area where the post office still makes money.
I'll be honest and say that I am part
of the reason the post office is losing money faster than a Powerball
winner on their first trip to Las Vegas. Right up until 1996, I did
everything through the mail. I bought books of stamps on a regular
basis. I dropped handfuls of mail into mailboxes on a regular basis
and pulled just as much out of my own mailbox behind the house.
Books, magazine, CDs, bills, movies (VHS; it was a long time ago), credit card offers and tons of
glorious junk mail. The cry of "What did we get in the mail today?" was usually met with a squeal of delight we saw what it was.
Then, slowly, certain things started to
slowly into our lives until they just became a modern way of life. "Hey, have you seen this amazon.com thing? You can order right here
on the computer. That'd save us a lot in stamps."
"Look here. It says if we go this
website, we can pay our bills online. Even more stamps we won't
have to buy!"
I went from purchasing a book of stamps
a month to, well, I can't remember the last time I bought a stamp.
Now, obviously, I didn't cost the
post office $16 billion on my own last year. But considering that
tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, have gone through the
same "life change" I have in the past decade and a half, you can
take a pretty good guess at where the money has gone.
I still get magazines and I
occasionally get a bill that I promptly pay online. But if Saturday
service is dropped, I doubt much time will pass before I no longer
miss it. But if they ever drop service down to three days a week, as
some want, then I'll know the world has passed me by.
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