Going Postal – Financial Troubles Ahead For U.S. Mail

In the wake of the Fiscal Cliff fiasco, a smaller, but still important, financial issue remains under the national radar. The U.S. Postal System is rapidly running out of cash, and they are almost out of options. Even worse, the legislative branch is completely distracted from this problem with the looming debt ceiling and sequestration negotiations dominating congressional discussions.

USPS Logo in Blue

Staying Afloat

A Ship overturned sinking in the arctic.

Leaders of The U.S. Postal System are trying to do everything in their power to avoid entering official bankruptcy. On one side, they obviously need to cut costs to continue providing their services. At the same time however, they are trying find a way to preserve as many jobs and services as possible while still keeping their heads above water. A fiscal boost from Washington would likely be the easiest way for The U.S. Post to continue business as usual. However, as CNN reports, “The U.S. Postal Service is, by law, an ‘independent establishment’ of the executive branch. The agency doesn’t normally use tax dollars for operations, except for its loan from Treasury. In 2005, the Postal Service had no debt.”

CNN Money Reports – U.S. Postal Service faces fiscal cliff

Pulling Up The Boot Straps

The U.S. Postal Service is doing everything they can to pull their operation back from the brink. In 2012, the Postal Service cut operating hours at thousands of post offices. It has also combined many of its facilities, which led to a 28,000 drop in its workforce, according to their spokesperson, Sue Brennan. All of it was achieved through attrition, which includes retirements and departures by employees who couldn’t relocate or take up new jobs.

Closed sign over a Post Office.

Down the street from our office is a giant hole in the ground that used to be our local Post Office here in Silver Spring. The entire operation has been relocated and combined with another location nearby. Postal workers continue to feel the squeeze as everyone works hard to try and save their jobs. The situation is grim, but just like every other company in this country right now, The Postal Service must do what they can to stay relevant and stay alive.

Technology vs Tradition

As Bob Dylan once eloquently wrote, “Oh the times they are a’ changing.” In its infancy, The U.S. Postal system provided a service that nobody else could do at the time. In an age when an E-mail sent right now can reach someone in China five seconds later, the primary market for postal deliveries had evaporated. It seems that these days, the only mail we get is from marketers and bill collectors. People just don’t seem to keep in touch via letter like they once did, causing massive drops in revenue for The U.S. Post over the last 15 years. Not to mention that Americans are accustomed to an insanely low fee for standard mail services. For example, I could send a letter to California from here in Maryland for less than $1, you cant even buy a stick of gum for that these days!

“So you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone, cuz the times they are a’ changing!” – Bob Dylan