Editorial: On postal service
We are all fond of our local post offices, the friendly faces behind the counters, the helpful assistance given in mailing packages, and the excellent carriers who take the mail to roadside boxes. They move millions of pieces every day.
On the other hand, we all want our mail, and we want it now. And it seems that mail delivery problems are not getting much better in spite of automation in central distribution offices. Our friendly postal staffers can’t do much about that!
To make matters worse, the cash-strapped postal service, under Congressional mandate to make it financially on its own, has been contemplating ending Saturday delivery (out-of-town subscribers: think even slower delivery of this newspaper), and closing many community post offices and sectional centers. Ken Blum, a columnist on the newspaper business, said these moves "would all add up to postal delivery that is weak, slow and ineffectual, and that’s not only bad for newspapers, it’s bad for America."
Blum notes that legislation is pending in Congress to give a two-year reprieve to the Saturday shutdown. He writes that "the bill makes significant progress toward setting the Postal Service on course to avoid financial collapse in 2012." But in the meantime, the service has reported billions in losses.
Postal service is of critical importance to the Gazette-Journal, which distributes about half of its circulation by mail, and to innumerable other businesses and individuals in our community.
One could argue that e-mail, commercial delivery companies and smart phones have made mail service all but obsolete. These developments have pressured the postal service and forced it to accommodate change.
But there is also the human factor, of using what is available to deliver the mail promptly. A recent audit of the Richmond sorting center (http://www.uspsoil.gov/foia.files…follow links to NO-AR-11-008.pdf) found tremendous inefficiencies, and a new manager has been appointed to clear up backlogs. That is the office all of our local mail goes through.
Ed Sims of Editor’s Copy Syndicate, whose columns have been seen in this paper for decades, argues that good postal service is more than just speedy delivery: "Postal service should never be reduced. That’s a bedrock of democracy and a needed service for all Americans. With all the billions being spent by Washington all over the world, to allow postal service to be reduced is an absurdity," Sims wrote recently. Like rural electrification, postal delivery may not be a moneymaker, but it is essential to national well-being.
We wish that some of our efficient local postmasters could find positions up the line to help get the mail to everyone on time. If Saturday mail shuts down, the USPS will be overlooked even more frequently for alternatives, and things would get worse, not better.