When I went
to the post office the other day it felt like a ghost town. There was only
one person behind the desk and the place seemed darker than usual. Because I was
the only customer in line I breezed right through, but it made me think of
the old days when we were all forced to wait in long lines to mail a package
or buy stamps. You had time to chat with your neighbors in line while
watching clerks who had taken classes in moving slowly and had made it an art
form. It’s definitely time to start getting nostalgic about the
vanishing post office.
As a kid
growing up in the 1950’s, I remember when first class letters were $.03
cents and a postcard was a penny. My parents also got me a postal savings
account. Back then, you could buy some candy or mail a letter for a few
cents, but nickel candybars are up to $2.00 now,and by the end of this month first class stamps will
cost $.46 cents, and a postcard will set you back $.33 cents.
postal rates regularly ratcheting up,the
USPS is bust and losing over $5 billion a quarter. The postal service is not
only behind by $11 billion in paying into their pension fund, but they have
maxed out their $15 billion credit line with the US Treasury. In what is
likely a futile effort to stave off the inevitable, the USPS is on track to
close 3,700 small post offices and to shrink the work force of 574,000 by at
least 220,000 by 2015. In using Europe as a guide, even a massively scaled
down postal service would need to charge $1.00 to cover the real cost of
delivering a letter.
advent of email, smart phones and the cloud, every tech-savvy consumer in
America, including me, has felt this coming we just didn’t realize the
impact it would have as letter by letter we leave "snail mail"
behind. All of my utilities and routine monthly payments are now set up ACH
for direct debit from the bank. My credit cards are paid over the internet
three times a month, and all financial statements can be downloaded from the
internet. For business, I used to use Priority Mail or Federal Express to
send contracts to clients. Now, with MS Word, Adobe PDF, scanner and computer
at my disposal, a business contract can be easily emailed, printed, signed,
scanned, and a countersigned copy emailed back in a matter of minutes, with
the executed legal agreement filed away in multiple secure data files in the
cloud. All this is being done for a whole lot less than $.46 cents and the
delivery is in minutes, not days. Who needs or wants snail mail for business
all the junk mail we receive? Junk mail consists mainly of come-ons for
"Medi-scare" insurance, advertisements
for anti-aging creams and vitamin supplements, catalogs showing tattooed
teenagers trying to sell women high fashion, and department store catalogues.
We don’t need or want to receive this mail and removing our names from
the mailing lists has not been easy, but slowly we are getting the message
out to the advertisers. Getting that rubber stamp that says
"Deceased" in red letters has been a blessing.
today’s world, if I want to research something or find out what’s
on sale, I can flip open my I-Pad, tap an App, and in a New York minute see
what I want to see and not what somebody selling me something wants me to
see. On the rare occasion when I do use the post office, it is usually to
send business-related materials in a priority mail package from office to
office, so I can travel light. People need stuff, not information, delivered!
Say hello to UPS and Amazon, and goodbye to USPS and stamps. Even though the
USPS continues to provide vital services to business and households and
employs hundreds of thousands of dedicated employees, future generations will
most likely be dealing with an entirely different postal service. The agency
may slowly get away from first class letters and focus on package delivery, a
fiercely competitive market but one that could be highly profitable.
meantime, though, as the first class mail business continues to decline, the
agency will need less and less mail carriers to deliver the mail. For the US
taxpayer that’s not good news because all of the currently retired
workers (and many more who have earned a pension) will fight to receive their
promised pensions. The problem is they don’t seem to understand that
the pension system is horribly underfunded and it is a mathematical certainty
that future postal revenues will never cover costs, much less pay for the
If the postal
pensions are not honored, that could leave America with several hundred
thousand angry ex-postal workers who could "go postal" on us.
Politicians and the public will likely pay as postal workers are unique in
knowing how to wear uniforms, march through rain, sleet and snow, and fight
off mad dogs. They know where we live, and they have the right to bear arms.
My vote is for paying them! In the past, my mailman always came through for
me, and he was a part of government that actually delivered something of
postal service runs a deficit, Congress appropriates the funds to cover the
shortfall leaving us, the taxpayer, on the hook to pay the bill. Using the
internet may save us postage but it is going to end up costing us as taxpayers
and the US Treasury a lot more than anyone could have ever imagined! When you
consider that we are already in the hole for $15 billion that is owed to the
Treasury, and another $11 billion owed to the pension fund, with the postal
deficit continually rising by $5 billion a quarter, by the end of 2013, this
hole will have grown to over $45 billion.
workforce at the USPS continues to collapse and early retirement kicks in,
the going away lifelong retirement party to keep past postal workers comfortable
could easily cost the rest of us a minimum of $150 billion over the next ten
years. Just don’t tell this to the Congressional Budget Office or the
US Treasury. If you look at their future deficit projections, you’ll
see that this problem will come to them as a total
surprise………delivered either by Email, or by several hundred
thousand retired postal workers marching in the streets!