Bad News for People Who Send Letters

Comments

1
"...you can get a lengthy letter to the other side of the country in only two days for only 44 cents."

Or I can text my Mom RIGHT NOW. Or send my brother an email across the globe RIGHT THIS SECOND.
2
The buggy whip industry was also an American institution.
3
@ C&B, +1. Sentimentality is fine, but the USPS is a rather shocking waste of billions of dollars and millions of tons of CO2. All to deliver mostly junk mail to people who mostly don't want it, barely staff horrible post offices (seriously, does anyone romanticize a post office BEFORE it's about to be closed?), and to perform a service that is fast becoming completely antiquated.
5
Sarah, your exasperation is adorable.
6
We desperately need to protect our whale bone corset industry. It'll be a travesty when this distinctly American and wasteful practice is no longer supported by public subsidies.
7
I'm with the suggestion junk mail should go the way of phone books. Once a week delivery, cool. But um, make every PO a high speed Internet connection with a cafe, day care center and after school study spot? Think outside the stamp.
8
Eh, I grew in a rural "cluster of houses," far from the nearest town, and look how I turned out.
9
It's disconcerting to read the same "Post Offices are wasteful and irrelevant--shut 'em down" line I've heard on Fox News. I send packages once or twice a week, which would not be affordable via UPS, including to lots of out-of-the way places not serviced by UPS or FedEx (because it's not profitable enough for them to do so). To say that it doesn't matter what kind of access to mail isolated areas have seems like the height of urban arrogance. And when we cut subsidies to everything and make it all profit-driven, watch the level of service decline, and prices soar for low-income people who rely on that service.
Complaints about junk mail are a separate issue from the matter of shutting down Post Offices.
10
@Geyser - If some small, out of the way place only gets packages once twice a week, their local post office should only be OPEN once a twice a week. Why pay people to stand around with nothing to do?
11
@Geyser: The USPS isn't subsidized. It is, by law, profit-neutral.

Postage prices have risen for everyone (not just low-income people) because of email use (that is the reason the USPS gives every time they raise the price of a stamp).
12
@Reymont: That makes sense and bears consideration, I think, but it's not what's on the table here. In areas where actual mail volume has dropped, it would be preferable to cut PO hours rather than closing offices entirely.
@C&B: I was referring to the way that areas that are more lucrative for the Post Office in effect subsidize service in more remote areas, which I think is fine because it's a valuable public service. Not everyone has internet access, and people still need to be able to mail letters and packages affordably. I was also talking more generally about the mindset that public spending and subsidies to the public sector are always bad, i.e. that everything that isn't profitable should just be shut down. It's a so-called "libertarian" view that seems worryingly more common.
13
The e.mail text argument is a misguided one. Not everyone has a cell phone, and those who are fortunate enough to own such a thing do not always have a text plan. A computer is still a luxury item, as crazy as that sounds, and millions of households throughout America, especially households in small poor towns like Deadwood and Post, do not have computers. And also consider the elderly among us who are confused by technology, the folks who are limited by their age and physical abilities, the people who keep in contact with the world through their mailbox.

Also, to those of you arguing that the internet is the end all be all, some of us, as in millions and millions of people throughout the country, as in still the majority, enjoy having tangible things in our hands. We might read newspapers online, but we buy books, buy movies, write letters, read magazines, et cetera. It is not one or the other, the internet or physical goods, or at least it doesn't have to be.
14
@ RM: 91% of Americans have cell phones, and of the remaining 9%, most of those people live in a household where someone else has one. 90% own some kind of computerized gadget, i.e. "cell phone, computer, MP3 player, game console, e-book reader or tablet computer."

In about 20 years, almost all people confused about computers, the internet and e-mail will be dead. The US needs to move toward digitization of everything it can. At the glacial pace of bureaucratic change, if we start now, *maybe* we'll be there in 20 years.

There's no need for the internet to completely displace ALL mail delivery, but it really, really should displace the most inefficient, obsolete forms of mail delivery.




http://arstechnica.com/telecom/news/2010/0…

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-02-03/tech/te…
15
It's a new world, Tevye.
16
Post is also considered to be the exact center of the state. What? They gonna close down the post office in Christmas Valley now too? Izee? DeMoss? Slide? Halfway? Downs? Dee? Drain?
17
@CC

I see your point, however, the presence of computer and cellular technology, even in 91% of American lives, does not make letter writing obsolete.

You think that the post office and physical mail is rather pointless, and that's fine. Perhaps, for you, it is. But I like mail, and I write and send and receive letters, so the loss of even ONE post office, in my opinion, is a tragedy. Now if I wanted to send a letter to someone in one of these unfortunate towns I would have to send it Fed-Ex. Do you ever send anything Fed-Ex? The cost is outrageous. I recently tried to send a 5x8 package Fed-Ex, because I was already there picking up copies, and they wanted ten dollars. Ridiculous. That same package went through the USPS for less than a dollar. Privatized mail IS the death of letter-writing, and though you look forward to this, I do not. I enjoy sending and receiving e.mails, and I rely on them to communicate every day. They are wonderful. That being said, the value of a letter from a friend coming through my mail slot is a thousand times greater than even a dozen e.mails from friends, because it shows time, creativity, and a thoughtfulness that can never be communicated through an e.mail. They have yet to create a font that can capture someone's personality the way ink and paper can, and I doubt they will in my lifetime, if ever. It simply is not the same for me. Perhaps you feel differently, but I value mail from friends, almost as much as I value being able to send mail out and show my friends that I care.

Additionally, I run a publishing company from my home office, and I am online all day. All I do is use my e.mail to communicate, and without the internet I would have a tough time running this business. And yet the product--though ordered online--still has to ship. You think that mail is obsolete? When you order something from Amazon, do you always have it sent UPS? Fed-Ex? Or do you go for the cheap 'regular mail' option? And Netflix? And credit cards? Maybe this is not relevant to you, but a great deal of Americans still use their mailbox. You may have forgotten, but it is the consumer, the regular American, that pays for shipping, not big companies, so as the USPS dies we will all suffer. Until teleportation exists, we still need trucks to drive things to our doorsteps, offices to sort these things, and men and women to do the work. Until Star Trek is a reality, America needs the USPS. Privatization of a government program, in nearly every case, only hurts the common man, and the postal service is no exception.

I do appreciate you providing those statistics, however. I am glad to see that such a large percent of Americans have so many ways to be in touch with one another. I may not agree with your conclusions, but I see how you got there.

RMP