Neither wind, nor rain, nor sleet nor hail, nothing will stop the US Mail. Except maybe Saturdays. And a crippling $9.2 billion budget deficit. While some have been warning of the closure of one of America's greatest institutions, most of us have been sending crappy e-cards to Grandma and refusing to set foot in those "crowded" post offices (but we'll wait 2 hours for Shake Shack?). Now, the Times reports that the United States Postal Service will be unable to make a $5.5 billion payment due later this month and may completely shut down this winter unless Congress does something fast. HAHA get it? Congress? Fast?
"Our situation is extremely serious," the postmaster general says, "If Congress doesn't act, we will default." Among the options to keeping the USPS solvent are: eliminating Saturday service, closing up to 3,700 post offices, and laying off 120,000 workers. Labor represents 80 percent of the USPS' expenditures, thanks to hard-won union contracts. The USPS is not supported by taxpayers and operates like an independent business.
Think you don't need snail-mail? The agency will handle 167 billion pieces of mail this year, which is down 22 percent from 2006, but how else will the dentist remind you of your check up? Although they're not allowed to enter other areas of commerce as other countries' postal services are, the USPS may request to gain "the right to deliver wine and beer," which we totally thought of years ago with our "Tequila Telegram" experiment. And those letters to Santa would get a lot more interesting.
Some Senators are opposed to ending Saturday service, as it would only cut two percent from the agency's budget and hurt rural customers who rely on the mail for prescription drugs and other necessities. The Obama administration says it is "working closely with the senators to find a solution," but we all know what that means. So go send a letter to your pal in Morocco. Or a postcard to Mom. As the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers says, the postal service has "survived the telegraph, it survived the telephone, and we have to do everything we can to preserve it and adapt."