Editorial: Saturday mail cut is a necessary adaptation
Related mediaTell us: Will ending Saturday mail affect you? National cartoon roundup Viewsday Blog Submit your letter Walt Handelsman: Crack!
Strolling out of the house in your bathrobe to fetch the mail on Saturday mornings could soon be a thing of the past.
The U.S. Postal Service is planning to suspend Saturday mail delivery starting the week of Aug. 5, a decision that will save the financially strapped operation $2 billion annually. It will, however, still deliver packages six days a week. Research by the postal service found that nearly seven in 10 Americans support the change.
With many people now using email and social media, and services like online bill payments, the amount of first-class mail has declined. Package delivery is an area in which the service has seen growth -- up 14 percent since 2010. But the agency still reported a record loss of $15.9 billion in 2012. It has tried repeatedly to switch to five-day mail delivery to cut costs and to put other efficiencies in place, but it's been blocked by Congress.
The Postal Service contends it can sidestep Congress this time because the federal government is operating under a temporary spending measure rather than an appropriations bill, which would prohibit the move to five-day delivery.
One of the major burdens for the Postal Serivce is a 2006 law requiring it to pay $5.5 billion a year to pre-fund the health costs of future retirees. No other government institution or private company is required to do so.
Last week the price of a first-class stamp rose to 46 cents to increase revenue. If cutting Saturday delivery stops even more rate hikes, the decision makes sense.
Congress needs to allow the agency to adapt to changing times if it's going to survive. Since Congress has refused, it's no surprise that the Postal Service figured out a clever way around it.