When it comes to mail delivery, don't leave rural America behind

Monday, January 31, 2011

Changing times and technology are catching up with the U.S. Postal Service, as e-mail, online bill pay and other electronic services take over for "snail mail."

New Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, who was sworn into office earlier this month, wants to cut 7,500 administrative jobs through attrition, including those of postmasters.

He has a problem. The postal service, which is set up to be self-supporting, forecasts a $6.4 billion loss for its 2011 fiscal year, which ends in September.

"Eighty percent of our offices don't cover our costs, and the law prevents us from closing those," said spokeswoman Sue Brennan. "But we're looking for ways to cut costs.

As a sign of the times, the Postal Service's application for Apple Inc.'s iPhone is the number one free business app, and more and more of us are buying postage online or at alternate sites.

Some post offices in rural areas are staffed solely by a postmaster, costing perhaps $90,000 to operate while bringing in $10,000 in revenue.

In contrast, the Postal Service makes an average of $243,000 per year in revenue from each of its automated kiosks, more revenue than 19,000 of its post offices generate apiece, according to another spokeswoman.

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported the postal service is reviewing 16,000 post-office locations for possible closure, and the Postal Regulatory Commission is reviewing appeals for six closings, according to a spokesman.

It's popular to compare private package delivery companies to the Postal Service, but none of them are required by law to serve small rural communities. Some, in fact, feed certain small packages into the U.S.P.S. for final delivery.

Providing mail service has been one of government's traditional roles and there is nothing inherently wrong with income from more profitable urban post offices subsidizing service in rural, less populated areas.

We're not saying postal service shouldn't be as efficient as possible, just don't leave rural America behind.

View 4 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • If Congress will change the pre-funding of USPS retirement obligations to mirror all other agency requirements then that's the day the USPS is back in the black, anyone that is in this business see's our profits being taken away from us to fund government operations and we get an IOU, meanwhile half of the country (like captainobvious) thinks we are taxpayer funded when in fact we profit from the sale of services. I agree with the story's main premise that the rural communities across America need the USPS, FedEx and UPS cannot do what we do to every address in the US.

    Remove our pre funding requirements and let us pay retirement obligations when they are due, return the massive overpayment of CERS and FERS payments totaling in the 150 billion range and guess what, the USPS is profitable.

    -- Posted by Beatnik on Tue, Feb 1, 2011, at 10:34 AM
  • Beatnik: Good points, but if the USPS ever became profitable, it would be like any other Gov. agency that made a profit. They would simply rob Peter to pay Paul.

    -- Posted by kansas outsider on Tue, Feb 1, 2011, at 11:54 AM
  • Ending the Post Office and Social Security may lead to financial solvency but they most definitely won't prevent riots in the streets, in fact, that would actually cause riots in the streets from all the people who have paid into social security and received no benefits from it or the ones who rely on it to survive. On one hand you have blatant theft and on the other, you send millions of retirees onto the streets when they have no income. Too bad the solution is not so simple as simply ending programs.

    -- Posted by McCook1 on Tue, Feb 1, 2011, at 12:01 PM
  • The anti-government gurus in SW Nebraska may receive some of their just deserts. Rural America needs government protections because corporations will only focus on the masses where they can earn more profits. From rural electricity to internet to subsidized air operations the only way for rural America to survive is with government assistance. If the farm subsidy program is dissolved due to budget cuts consequences will be dire. Be careful what and who you support SW Nebraska citizens. You need government assistance to compete with the rest of the country.

    -- Posted by BuffRoam on Tue, Feb 1, 2011, at 12:38 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: