February 6th, 2013

Saturday mail is finito: so, what difference does it make?

The answer: very very little.

The US Mail (sans packages, which will continue Saturday delivery) has come down to being a bill collector and the deliverer of advertising. The first is equivalent to the proverbial “bearer of bad tidings,” and the second is a largely irrelevant waste of paper. So why strain the postal workers’ backs, and the postal service’s pocketbook, any more than we have to?

No reason at all.

Except, perhaps, that with the end of weekend delivery, mail will pile up even more for Monday.

16 Responses to “Saturday mail is finito: so, what difference does it make?”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    But…. but…. without Saturday mail what will we have to recycle on Saturday?

    The U.S. Postal “Service”: How It Works in the 21st Century

    http://americandigest.org/mt-archives/american_studies/the_post_office_how_it_wo.php

  2. Sam L. Says:

    And Tuesdays, after a Monday gummint holiday

  3. Roman Says:

    It is hard to believe that in the 21st Century, USPS can stick with such a failed business model. Only a quasi-governmental agency could last this long. How about mail delivery 3 days a week? Charge much more for “junk” mail and not lose so much money. Make it a pay for itself. What a novel concept!

  4. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    How long till they eliminate Wednesday delivery, with the exception of Holiday’s that fall on Mondays?

    Roman,

    Raise the rates for ‘junk’ mail and the businesses that send it out will either have to reduce their profits or charge more for their products. Which do you think they’ll choose? And I think its already supposed to be a pay for itself business model.

  5. holmes Says:

    It doesn’t need a better business model because it’s not a business. It’s a weird quasi-government agency, but it’s actually enshrined in the Constitution. Well, it’s called for anyway, though in reading the Constitution it’s rather quaint that they thought the Federal government was so limited that they would actually have to specify that the federal government would be responsible for the postal service.

    Anyway, USPS is a jobs program for the low skilled.

  6. T Says:

    I vaguely remember in my early youth (ages 8-10) deliveries twice a day including Sundays as well as the old dark blue Lincoln 4 cent stamps for first class postage.

    How times have changed.

  7. JuliB Says:

    I think they should have dropped Wednesday mail and kept Saturday.

  8. Otiose Says:

    Missing from these stories about the proposed dropping of Saturday mail delivery is the fact that the labor cost structure for postal workers in the US is out of proportion to the private labor compensation for similar work – unless you believe that an average compensation of $80,000 per year per employee is appropriate (a number I saw in the WSJ last year).

  9. Lizzy Says:

    Hang on there, Otiose, you DO NOT want to piss off a bunch of postal workers – the might “go postal.”

  10. Liz Says:

    If it saves money, why wait until August to implement it????

    They are going to maintain Saturday PO hours and package deliveries, but cut out the regular mail? Even if there was a time requirement to notify union members, I think the max is only 90 days….

    Save us the money, already….

  11. Otiose Says:

    Lizzy, I’m not sure why stating a missing fact – already public – would cause any particular postal worker to go postal.

    After careful consideration and balancing of the risks and noting that Otiose is not my given name, I will add an opinion – if the government cut the average compensation by half (and let’s not forget the benefits, retirement, etc) postal compensation would still be generous and there wouldn’t be a problem with cost structure and no need for the taxpayers to step up (again).

  12. Lizzy Says:

    Oitose – I was just kidding. I think that an average salary of $80,000 is ridiculous (they must be unionized, right?). Not only should their salaries be on the table, the USPS should get out of the business of sports sponsorship, such as NASCAR and Lance Armstrong.

  13. Sgt. Mom Says:

    Honestly, since most of what comes every day in the mail is the print equivalent of my spam email folder, I think I could easily bear the loss. I could cope with three deliveries a week; every other day, Monday to Saturday.

  14. Richard Aubrey Says:

    It appears that a major component of the problem is that the USPS is required to pre-fund retirees’ health care. Can’t afford to do it.
    Point is, not many other government agencies are required to pre-fund, which will give you an idea of how doomed we are.
    OTOH, it’s supposed to be run like a business, but with Congressional requirements making it impossible.
    Our post office serves a town which does not exist in the sense of a lot of buildings, a commercial center, a stop light, or even one retail establishment. About six people are within walking distance. Those who live here are going to be in their cars for food, work, the usual. Having to stop into a post office someplace else–this one is on the way to noplace–is not going to be an inconvenience. Our local big-box store has a post office function at the service desk which will take your letters and packages and sell stamps.
    IOW, the little office which serves us, now open from ten to two, is a waste of money. But Congress mandated it must remain. Can’t imagine how many of those we have in this country.

  15. Gringo Says:

    This Graph Explains Why the U.S. Postal Service Is About to Cut Saturday Mail Delivery.

    With its business hemorrhaging billions and Congress seemingly incapable of crafting a rescue plan, the U.S. Postal Service went rogue this morning and announced that it would end most Saturday mail delivery in order to save costs. This comes as a bit of a shock, as USPS is required by law to do its job six days a week. But desperate times apparently call for desperate measures.
    And things are desperate. Over the last three years, the post office has lost almost $30 billion. A bit more than half of that can be blamed on Congress’ financially ruinous decision to force the agency to pre-fund its retiree health benefits through 2056 by making roughly $5.5 billion in annual payments. But leaving that absurd obligation aside, the truth is that delivering mail to every corner of the country, six-days a week is becoming an untenable business model, as is illustrated plainly in this graph below from a post office financial report.
    Total mail volume has fallen by 25 percent since 2007. Revenues, meanwhile, has tumbled 13 percent, and are now outstripped by its basic operating expenses, even if you don’t include the retiree health payments. (Be careful how you read the chart — neither the left or right axis starts at zero, which makes the drop-off look a bit more dramatic visually than it is financially).

    Given the 25% drop in mail volume in the last 5 years, cutting out Saturday service seems a sensible decision.

  16. Tesh Says:

    @Lizzy,

    Yes, they are unionized. My cousin works as a carrier/manager, and he is *very* annoyed with the incompetence that he sees being fostered by the union. He literally can’t do anything about lazy workers.

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