You don't have mail

Hard times at the post office are hitting home.

With the financial numbers not working for the U.S. Postal Service, the agency has announced that it will reduce the number of days per week that it delivers mail from six to five.

Starting in August — absent some congressional intervention — the post office will abandon first-class mail delivery on Saturday while continuing to deliver packages of all sizes.

If this decision stands, the reduction in days of service will represent the latest effort by postal officials to bring their costs in line with their revenues.

In the last budget year, the postal service lost $15.9 billion. Postal officials estimate they will save $2 billion annually with the service cut.

Members of Congress were quick to react to the decision. U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa called it a "common-sense reform" while Alaska U.S. Sen. Mark Begich said it is "bad news for ... small business owners."

They're both right. With costs so far out of line with income, tough decisions have to be made. At the same time, the reduction in delivery will impose a hardship on many people and businesses.

There already is talk on Capitol Hill of legislation to block the service cut. Congress has the authority to do so, but it would hardly be wise to order service that cannot be paid for. If it's going to mandate service, it has to demonstrate how it will be financed.

This decision is more fallout from advances in technology. While the postal service's package delivery business is good, its mail volume is way down because of email's popularity.

One could call this decision an unintended consequence of progress or another example of the "creative destruction" that drives a free market. But the postal service's problems are a fiscal reality that cannot be denied.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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