Postal Service cutbacks affect all of us

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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.

Comments

Every article on the woes of

Every article on the woes of the USPS should include the part that Congress has caused the issue by requiring the USPS to pre-pay 75 years of future retiree health benefits over a 10 year period. This is in addition to paying this on current retirees. This has cost the USPS about 6 billion dollars a year since it mandated in 2006 by PAEA. The push to dismantle the USPS has come from mostly Republican/conservatives that think the public would be better served by privatizing the delivery of mail. The problem with that idea is that private companies would be glad to take the lucrative stuff, but who would deliver mail in remote areas? Since delivery of mail is a Constitutional issue, the government would be left with the most costly part. Foes of the USPS love to blame the union, but it's really Congress that is causing the problem and they are refusing to address the issue. Like everything else, they kick the can down the road.

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