February 7, 2013

why my mailbox should be empty on saturdays.

The United States Postal Service is threatened. They are defaulting on payments and have reached their borrowing limit from the United States Treasury. If they don’t cut costs and start balancing their budget, it will mean big trouble for their agency. Their solution: no more mail on Saturdays. And I think that’s great.

The USPS plans to cut mail delivery services to solely weekdays, saving an estimated $2 billion annually. Sounds like an awful lot of dough, and a pretty slick solution for their budget problem. And it’s not the first time that they’ve attempted this change. For years the USPS has lobbied to end the six-day delivery, struck down by Congress each time. This time, with financial crisis looming, they may very well get their way.

And to this, I say, “good.” I am all for letting the delivery service take a day off. It’s just one more step leading us away from hardcopy delivery and publications – one more instance of the digital age steamrolling along and leaving expedited data transfer in its path. If the USPS can’t afford to deliver on Saturdays, then they shouldn’t.

Now, this change isn’t victimless. There’s been an outcry from small, weekly newspapers and magazines that regularly deliver on Saturdays. These publications fear a loss of readership from those who relish the routine of their Saturday morning read. If the USPS is no longer available for that Saturday morning delivery, these publications will just have to adapt. Perhaps this is a signal of a greater reliance on electronic publications, and a chance to put traditional readers online. Or maybe they’ll just deliver on Mondays.

Regardless, far be it from me to force the USPS into a budgetary crisis, and newspapers shouldn’t have the gall to do so either. Publications will be flexible as they have been for the past decade, and I suspect they’ll carry on just fine. If our mailboxes are empty and our doorsteps bare on Saturdays, we will just have to soldier on.

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