Does the Post Office HAVE to Exist?

Even after deep cuts in jobs, the USPS lost $8.5 billion dollars in the last year.  Next year the agency will run out of money, and is asking Congress for emergency help.  Some are saying Congress should not intervene and let the nature of business takes its course.

The simple fact is this: people just don’t mail letters anymore.  The Postal Service is little more today than a junk mail service.  59% of all mail delivered is advertising, 41 lbs per year delivered to the average American.  In order to further cut cots, the USPS is asking Congress to cancel Saturday service and raise the price of a stamp.  Their last request for a rate increase was denied.

One argument for assisting the Post Office is that it simply must exist.  Postal service, according to the claim, is part of the fabric of American life.  Does the Post Office have to exist?  Everyone’s heard of the Pony Express, but do you realize how short lived that business venture was?  Shortly after the Pony Express began delivering mail to the West Coast, transcontinental telegraph service started.  The express riders were simply no longer necessary.  E-mail started cutting into the Post Office’s business more than a decade ago, and an increasing number of home and businesses are trying to go completely paper-less.  If Time and Newsweek go down, if the New York Times quits printing newspapers, if e-books outsell actual paper volumes, then why should the Post Office continue to exist, offering a service that no one wants or needs?

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About Clark Bunch

Clark Bunch is the pastor of Unity Baptist Church and author of God is Near. He and his wife Teresa have one child. In his spare time he enjoys blogging, playing guitar and riding his motorcycle. And coffee, he'd be nowhere without coffee.
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6 Responses to Does the Post Office HAVE to Exist?

  1. Ah, but there are people who want and need it—and these hold a non-trivial amount of political clout:

    The people in charge of or working for the Post Office…

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    • Clark Bunch says:

      The people working at the Post Office need it to exist, but is that a reason for the government to keep it around? The people working at Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and over at Mercury needed those companies to exist. Those were part of the American fabric as well. We could give a hundred people jobs by building a giant factory making VHS tapes, but no one would do that because WE NO LONGER NEED ANY MORE VHS TAPES.

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      • To avoid misunderstandings: I was not arguing for the preservation of the Post Office, but pointing to an obstacle that will ensure its survival for quite some time after it has outlived its use.

        An extreme example can be found in Germany, where the coal-mining industry is given horrendous amounts of money. Notably, RAG has a revenue (not profit) of 3 billion Euro—and receives 2 billion Euro in government support. Artificial respiration…

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  2. dell90wattac says:

    Two things.

    Think about all those jobs that it is providing for people. Granted, they’re in the red, but if you get rid of the post office, theres another chunk of Americans unemployed.

    Also, even if 59% of all mail is junk, what about the other 31%? That 31% still has to get mailed, doesn’t it? Some thing just can’t go digital. I still get some packaged delivered through USPS and sometimes people don’t get FedEx or UPS in their area.

    I don’t think the post office is ready to die just yet.

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  3. Clark Bunch says:

    The next phase of the Post Office’s existence will probably involve mail delivery Mon – Fri only, and the cost for that delivery is about to go up. When those things happen EVEN FEWER people will continue to use their service. People have already lost jobs, and more people are about to.

    Just a few years ago, Western Union announced they would no longer be offering telegram by wire service. I responded “Holy crap, people still send telegrams?!?

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