Even in an age in which sending a text message across the country is a matter of pressing a few buttons, there’s still something almost miraculous about writing “I love you” on a Valentine, putting it in an envelope and sending it from here to the West Coast for only 40 cents.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Postal Service is running low on near-miracles.
It’s no secret that the Postal Service has faced serious financial issues for years. The service last year announced plans to severely cut operations at many rural post offices, including Rocky Mount’s processing center on George Street.
The volume of first-class mail has fallen dramatically in this Internet age – from 97.7 billion pieces in 2006 to 68.7 billion pieces in 2012.
So it came as little surprise last week when the Postal Service announced it would stop delivering mail on Saturdays, beginning in August.
The move is designed to help put a Band-Aid on an operation that has been strained by pension fund obligations, increasing fuel costs and declining demand.
But the cuts likely will have an effect on the rest of us that goes beyond inconvenience.
Dropping Saturday probably won’t make enough of a difference to ensure the Postal Service’s survival without making other cuts down the road. There still are quite a few of us who look forward to sending and receiving Christmas cards. We enjoy the convenience of magazines and prefer to receive important records and receipts on paper.
It’s hard to justify continuing a mail system that faces huge deficits. But our mailboxes – and other aspects of life – would be a little emptier without it.