TODAY'S PAPER
71° Good Morning
71° Good Morning
Opinion

Gorman: Saturday mail? Didn't that go away already?

Michael McDonald, a Postal Service letter carrier for

Michael McDonald, a Postal Service letter carrier for 19 years, Michael McDonald, delivers mail in Atlanta. (Feb. 7, 2013). Credit: AP

The millennial generation barely knows how to lick an envelope, never mind care about whether mail is delivered on Saturdays. Mail is something that now happens instantly over the Internet.

In early February, the U.S. Postal Service announced it would reduce Saturday delivery to save $2 billion annually. The service's threat to stop most Saturday deliveries was withdrawn on Wednesday after it did not find enough support in Congress.

This was not the first time a five-day delivery schedule was proposed, but the Postal Service's finances seem worse each time it tries this scare tactic to get Congress to loosen the strings on how it operates. According to the governing board of the Postal Service, keeping Saturday delivery could hurt taxpayers in the long run.

The service's main problem comes with the $5.5 billion spent annually to pre-fund pensions for employees. This is the only government agency with a policy like this, and it's ultimately plunging the service deeper into the red.

Delivering six days a week is hurting the Postal Service. Package deliveries are up 14 percent since 2010, but the service reported a $15.9-billion loss in 2012. With the rise in online bill-paying and the growing use of email, continuing snail mail on Saturdays doesn't seem worth the debate.

Email comes with just as much — if not more — junk mail and advertisements that no one pays attention to, just like snail mail. Millennials are more than aware of  preapproved credit cards and weekly specials at the department store.

The delivery of parcels is still necessary, but other forms of correspondence are fading fast. The only things that come to mind that are delivered by the Postal Service that have merit are letters and greeting cards, bills and magazines -- though all are available online as well.

Unless the Postal Service can figure out a way to streamline costs, the price of stamps is pretty much the only other thing it can change. I wonder if the service could wind up charging $3 per stamp by the time millennials reach 50, around 2040. Curtailing Saturday mail was a smart option to cut costs.

It's time for Congress to let the USPS adapt to stop its financial distress.
 

Columns