The Post Office is going to die, so says the old pony express. They're strapped for cash, probably defaulting on a $US5.5 billion payment due this month and will shut down entirely this (northern) winter unless Congress stabilises its finances. Sad. But we don't really need it anymore.
It's getting really rough for postal workers, according to the NY Times, the postmaster general, Patrick Donahoe, might get rid of Saturday mail delivery, lay off 120,000 workers and close up to 3700 post offices — all in an effort to lessen the post office's deficit, which will be $US9.2 billion this fiscal year. Why? Well, labour costs too much and revenue is down.
The post office will handle an estimated 167 billion pieces of mail this year, that's down 22 per cent from 5 years ago. It's expected to dip under 120 billion by 2020. Truthfully, I imagine it'll drop even quicker than that. Everything that's sent through snail mail can get done faster, cheaper and easier through email. Sometimes, you don't even need e-mail actually. I mean, what's "important" that you get through the mail now?
Magazines, bills, invoices, stuff that requires your signature? Birthday cards, maybe?
Tablet versions of a magazine, electronic bills, PayPal, apps like Sign It! and the fact that you're getting older have replaced all those itty bitty pieces of mail — 44 cents a pop saved for us Americans, revenue lost for them. Heck, the only thing I need a physical mailing address for these days is to get physical packages from Amazon, UPS and FedEx do just fine and do it with lower labour costs (53 per cent of its expenses for UPS, 32 per cent for FedEx compared with 80 per cent with the USPS) — the private delivery services just run more efficiently as a business. Every other piece of mail from a love letter to catalogues to spam to a thank-you note, just email me. I've changed my mailing address every year for the past five years and probably will do it again next year. My email? It'll be the same.
I'm hopeful, of course, that the post office can find a way to survive, if only so people can keep their jobs. The USPS has long been home to generous benefits and good perks, but the old pony express is going to have to get creative to stay alive and I'm not so sure they can. [NY Times, Image Credit: mjay/Shutterstock]