About once a month I order stamps for the practice that I manage. It used to be a free service; they’d simply bring them with mail delivery. A few months ago they starting charging a dollar, but that’s still less than it would cost to make a trip to the post office. What has also changed is the packaging of the stamps. Each panel of ten or twenty stamps, whatever the case may be, is wrapped in cellophane with a stiff piece of cardboard to keep them from bending. The cardboard gets reused for art projects, but there’s nothing to do but trash the cellophane. Imagine the waste in person-power and resources to package stamps that can simply be put into an envelope, the way they used to do it before they started charging a dollar.
The U.S. Postal Service may be forced to eliminate a day of mail service because the economic downturn has led to plummeting volume and revenue, the postmaster general said Wednesday.
Postmaster General John E. Potter, in testimony before a Senate subcommittee, warned of a possible worst-case scenario: eliminating the requirement to deliver mail six days a week to every address in America.
If the recession continues to hammer at USPS revenue, six-day delivery may not be possible, Potter said. Federal law has mandated the six-day schedule since 1983.
In fiscal 2008, total mail volume fell by more than 9 billion pieces – 4.5% -compared to the previous year, Potter said. And the agency suffered a greater-than-expected net loss of $2.8 billion last year, he added.
“The real problem is that the Postal Service needs reform,” said Michael A. Crew, professor of regulatory economics at Rutgers University, whose 2009 book “Handbook of Postal Reform” argues for USPS privatization.
“The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 was supposed to make the agency competitive and bring regulations into the 21st century,” Crew added. “But it just painted over the cracks, and they’re still struggling.”
USPS is “a vital economic engine in our national economy,” Potter said, noting that USPS is the country’s second-largest employer and the mail affects both jobs and commerce.
“We could experience a net loss of $6 billion or more this fiscal year,” Potter told the subcommittee. That shortfall would exceed the Postal Service’s credit limit under current law.
“We believe that legislative relief is necessary to preserve the nation’s mail system,” Potter said.