We’re all familiar with the simple thrill of discovering a letter or postcard in the mail, nestled in amongst the daily debris. But in a world zooming by at cyber-speed, the question now is whether the government-run postal service is still necessary. Bills can be received and paid online, potential shoppers can browse a store’s website instead of receiving a catalog, and e-cards are immediate and permanent. But the U.S. Postal Service is an American institution and the nation’s second-largest civilian employer- larger than McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart combined.
However, currently, the US Postal Service is facing an $8.3 billion budget shortfall, in large part due to losing almost half of its first class mail to online bill pay and email communication. Thus, the postal service is itching to stop Saturday delivery, a change that would save $3.1 billion per year.
Scaling down the postal service to a five-day week is better than the alternative of laying off 100,000 of their 574,000 workers. At this time of economic troubles, that quantity of people should not be without jobs in America.
Privatizing the USPS would turn the non-profit system we all rely on today into a company like FedEx or UPS, exclusively focused on obtaining profit. Their focus would be supplying the largest amount of demand, excluding citizens of rural areas who the current system is legally obligated to service.
With the current system in place, all Americans get mail cheaply and conveniently. If this system was changed, the cost to send a letter across the nation would be very expensive, because these private companies aren’t exclusively interested in providing mail. Sophomore Emmet Carn brings up a great point: “Because my grandparents live in the mid-west, I rely on letters to get in touch with them, especially for special occasions such as holidays or birthdays. Elderly people like my grandparents should not have to pay more for the service that they have always relied on.”
Many suggest that the postal service’s environmental impact is a reason that it should be abolished. However, this is a misconception. In fact, the postal service operates the world’s largest fleet of alternative fuel-capable vehicles —more than 44,000— that can use fuels such as electricity, ethanol, compressed natural gas, liquid propane gas, and bio-diesel.
Besides these points, there’s something to be said about the sweet nostalgia of getting an invitation or a letter from your grandmother. Along with privitization comes the elimination of the last tie we have to a pre-internet society.