Most of Us Want the Post Office to Kill Saturday Delivery? Really?

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PostmanAccording to U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, 7 out of every 10 Americans polled say they like the idea of the U.S. Postal Service eliminating Saturday mail delivery in order to cut $2 billion a year off of the Post Office's budget.

And so ... that's just what he's going to do.

Donahoe announced on Wednesday that rather than wait for Congress to propose a solution to the USPS's fiscal problems, he's going to order the service to halt Saturday letter deliveries beginning this August. Parcel delivery, however, would continue unchanged -- six days a week. Likewise, postmen will continue to stuff letters into "P.O. boxes" located right on-site at the post office, Monday to Friday, and Saturday, too.

But here's the thing: a $2 billion budget haircut simply won't cut it.

Postmen and Straw Men

While USPS defenders argue that the service's biggest problem is that it has to pay $5.5 billion a year into a special fund for covering future healthcare costs of its retiring workers, the fact remains that USPS lost $15.9 billion last year, and is barreling towards an annual loss of as much as $18.2 billion annually just two years from now.

That makes Donahoe's plan to save $2 billion by canceling Saturday delivery less than a half-measure. It's more like an 11 percent-measure -- and one with a zero percent chance of fixing the problem.

And it gets worse. If you add up all the proposals Donahoe has floated over the past few months, all aimed at fixing the USPS's fiscal issues, they still don't amount to much more than a band-aid on a patient in sore need of major surgery:
  • Closing 3,800 rural post offices and processing centers, and laying off 35,000 mailmen, could save $3 billion.
  • A pilot program to offer same-day package delivery in San Francisco could raise another $50 million in revenue -- or even $500 million if it were expanded to more cities.
  • Suspending payment of the $5.5 billion annual healthcare contribution would save ... $5.5 billion. Natch.
  • And of course, last month's penny-a-letter price hike (to $0.46 for a first-class stamp) could add $1.5 billion to USPS revenue
Add it all up, and you still come up close to $8 billion short.

When you get right down to it, then, it's hard to imagine why 7 out of 10 Americans would support a move to make their mail service less convenient that still falls far short of actually fixing the Postal Service's problem. Indeed, even if you assume Donahoe really did have a poll conducted, and didn't simply pull the 7 out of 10 figure out of the air, it makes you wonder how USPS surveyors phrased the question in order to get that result.

Be that as it may: Now that you know the real numbers, what do you think? Do you still, like the Postmaster General says, overwhelmingly support the decision to cut Saturday delivery? Or do you perhaps have a better solution? Sound off below.

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nthereoff

If the Post Office lose's more and more money each year, then cutting Friday delivery makes sense.. We shouldn't stop there cut all Goverment [Federal and State] non essentail servies one day a week. Parks , Library ect. This will help cut our goverment debt..

February 11 2013 at 8:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lucy

To quote Smith's article: "USPS lost $15.9 billion last year, and is barreling towards an annual loss of as much as $18.2 billion annually just two years from now."

The shocking headline figure given as last years loss ($15.9 billion) actually includes two years worth
of the probably unconstitutional heath benefits mandate that were not paid and should not be paid ($11 billion), plus some equally dubious charges for disability situations and overcharges for pensions ($2.4 billion in total) , bringing down the real deficit figure to a much more reasonable $2.5 billion. Whether through ignorance or by design, Rich Smith appears to be participating in a disinformation campaign that has as its aim the destruction of a unionized public institution that hires many veterans, women, minorities and disabled persons. This campaign only encourages Congressional malfeasance, which remains
the root cause of the financial crisis at the Post Office (not the Internet).

Any attempt to actually solve the problem must begin with legislation that will allow the USPS to
have the power to develop and price new products without interference by special interests.

February 10 2013 at 6:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
geohoiii

This is the result when you allow private companies come in and cherry pick the most profitable segments of a government monopoly - because the government entity has to continue providing the least profitable services (regular mail) without the subsidy provided by the most profitable (packages) the government entity starts to lose money unless they charge what it actually costs to perform the services remaining to them - never a politically popular idea.

If the US Post Office is to at least break even, the rates will have to go up dramatically - enough to offset the loss of volume the increased rates will incur. They will have to continue to compete for the commercial business, but the residential business will have to pay for itself. Compare FEDEX letter or UPS letter charges of not less than $2.75 to the 46 cents the post office charges. If a 1 cent increase in first class mail (with associated increases in 3rd and other classes) results in about 1.5 Billion, then a 14 cent increase to 60 cents would result in about 21 Billion, which will allow them to start repaying the line of credit and interest to the Feds and cover their losses. Possibly a bit less than 21 Billion, since this will drive more folks into paying bills by direct transfer/email. Their costs will only go up - they go through lots of fuel, have to contract out the air transport of mail (witch is also subject to fuel costs), maintenance costs for fuel and buildings only goes up, etc.

The point is, the charges have to go up to cover costs if the Post Office is to become self-sufficient.

February 09 2013 at 11:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rdd2897

Take some of the welfare we are giveing Paskastan and help our postal Company and save jobs

February 08 2013 at 6:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
geocreak

Fire the Post Master save the Post Office. This guy is an idiot and anti worker............Please Mr President replace him........

February 08 2013 at 4:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
barryaclarke

The post service inept managers are now saying that killing off Saturday deliveries could cost thousands of postal jobs. They talked about this cost cutting measure a decade ago when they started to lose billions of dollars a year in revenue. If they had enacted this measure back then, normal attrition would have taken care of extra employees and would have saved billions of dollars in wages. In addition, the postal service wouldn’t now be at their borrowing limited of 15 billion dollars and broke………….

February 08 2013 at 4:09 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
circustwo

I get JUNK mail 6 (six) days a week, how many trees have fallen to produce the many millions of pounds of JUNK mail sent out every day ?

February 08 2013 at 3:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
circustwo

I never pay bills on line. I always make sure I have money to pay those standard monthly bills. How about you, do you look that far ahead ? One day the government or hackers will be able to control you any way they wish. The USPS money problem should have been looked at a very long time ago, who is responsible for that. Let's be told their names and position, don't you think ?

February 08 2013 at 3:35 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
dcwpp

Why is the postal service expected to make money. Every other service the government has is running a deficit.

February 08 2013 at 3:32 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
huff5745

The home Mail needs to go to 3 times a week. Country could to 1 time per week.

February 08 2013 at 3:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply