Saturdays! Now Free of Irritating Mail Delivery

The Post Office finally made good on their threats: Saturday mail delivery is about to be stopped. From Yahoo News:

Apparently trying an end-run around an unaccommodating Congress, the financially struggling U.S.Postal Service says it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to disburse packages six days a week.

In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August and could save $2 billion annually.

The move accentuates one of the agency’s strong points — package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet services.

Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday, but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.

No, see, it’s actually a sign of success. It’s because they deliver so many packages, see? Okay, but here’s where I wonder if we’re all living on the same planet:

Material prepared for the Wednesday press conference by Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO, says Postal Service market research and other research has indicated that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs.

So a large government monopoly can’t succeed in a business in which it has zero legal competitors — delivering letters — but somehow can succeed in a business — package delivery — in which it has at least three major competitors. What does that tell you about government monopolies? Or competition? Or American health care, once it becomes effectively single-payer?

  1. Nathaniel Wright

    Not only can the post office “compete effectively” with FEDEX and UPS on package delivery, they subcontract for FEDEX quite frequently. The cheapest way to ship a package domestically is to use FEDEX’s program that uses the USPS to make the delivery. http://www.fedex.com/us/smart-post/outbound.htmlAll of which points out that they aren’t actually competing, they are being subsidized by government to give a “competitor” a competitive advantage over another “competitor.”

  2. Mollie Hemingway
    C

    Who, I ask you, will deliver the catalogues I throw into the recycling bin? Only five catalogue days a week? I’m not sure I can handle this update to the mail service.

  3. Vice-Potentate

    I’m hoping they offer healthcare more than five days a week.

  4. Whiskey Sam

    Well there goes my reason to go outside on Saturdays.

  5. Robert Promm

    Most of the stuff that comes to our house via the US Postal Service these days goes directly from the mail box to the garbage can without entering the house.

    Anything important of a physical nature comes via FEDEX or UPS.  Everything else that’s important comes electronically.  

    The world has passed them by.

  6. Spin

    It tells me that the government should get out of the business of delivering anything to your house.  

  7. Barkha Herman

    It is time to privatize the postal service.

    A good article at CATO: Want Better Mail Service?  Privatize it.

    Great Britain, Finland, New Zealand and Sweden, for example, have given up on the government-enforced monopoly on mail delivery and have exposed their former monopoly mail providers to competition.

    Germany and the Netherlands, meanwhile, have privatized their main postal companies, which have subsequently expanded into foreign markets and diversified their businesses.

    And the 27 member nations of the European Union have agreed to end their mail monopolies in the near future.

  8. Foxman

    They can really save costs by making us come down to the post office to pick-up our own mail.  I’ll bet they don’t lay-off any mail carriers though.

  9. Ross C
    Foxman: They can really save costs by making us come down to the post office to pick-up our own mail.  I’ll bet they don’t lay-off any mail carriers though. · 4 minutes ago

    I am curious as to where the savings are reaped here.  Of course there is fuel consumed, and I assume hours for truck drivers and letter carriers will be cut collectively by 1/7th or so.

    I don’t know why they are stopping there though.  Why is it necessary to delivery mail to everyone’s mail box.  Could they not communitize mail boxes as they do in newer neighborhoods and wildly reduce the number of hours spent by letter carriers stopping at hundreds of individual mailboxes.

    The basic problem that Rob points out is that the USPS does not know what its incentives are other than to exist.

  10. Merina Smith

    This was threatened during the Carter era.  Funny how things come full circle under another spendthrift lefty.

  11. No Caesar

    While I was at business school at the beginning of the 90s, my school hosted a special weeks-long executive education session for the USPS middle and upper managers.  At first we MBAs were full of sarcasm and mirth at the idea of the Post Office learning how to be effective managers.  However, as we interacted with them we learned that our biases were unfair and inaccurate. 

    They were optimistic that they could run the USPS like UPS or Fed Ex.  In speaking with them they clearly understood where their problems were and what they needed to do to be competitive.  They had plenty of great innovative ideas and a sense of urgency.  

    Sadly, that vision ran into the brick wall of the Postal union.  The union only cared about two things: keeping members rolls up and keeping compensation high.  They did not believe that Congress would ever stop funding USPS deficits.  Any automation and efficiency efforts ran afoul of the union’s goal to keep its membership high and growing.  The level of compensation would actually have been less of a problem had managers been able to implement the efficiency and new service efforts they wanted to try.   

  12. No Caesar

    …continued from 11

    The Postal union effectively held a veto over any management initiatives.  Furthermore, the union was effective at maintaining bi-partisan support in Congress.  The Democrats backed it because they were unionized government employees.  Some Republicans back it because of the priority that the USPS places on applicants from the military services. 

  13. Ross C
    No Caesar: While I was at business school ……

    Very interesting stuff.  Is this an instance where a corrupt (from my perspective) labor organization has effectively captured the collective bargaining process as happened with the UAW and others?

    Republican governors have been curbing the excessive power of labor unions of late.  It seems tactically important for the Republicans to target organized labor at the national level going forward.  That is if we ever gain control of the federal government again.

  14. Sidehill Gouger
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.: Who, I ask you, will deliver the catalogues I throw into the recycling bin? Only five catalogue days a week? I’m not sure I can handle this update to the mail service. · 1 hour ago

    Don’t forget that Geico mail.

  15. J Climacus

    I wonder about Ross’s question as well. Are letter carriers being given a pay cut because they will now work 5 days instead of 6? Will anybody be laid off because of this? If the savings are purely in overhead (e.g. gas for the trucks, no heat for the post office on Saturday), all this does is make the post office less efficient and make the cost per delivered item even worse.

  16. Fake John Galt

    Far as I am concerned they can save even more money by going down to 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) or 2 days a week (Tuesday, Thursday) or 1 day a week (Wednesday).  Anything I get via the USPS is not time sensitive.  If it is urgent it would be sent / received via another communication method.

  17. Cutlass
    Ross Conatser

    I don’t know why they are stopping there though.  Why is it necessary to delivery mail to everyone’s mail box.  Could they not communitize mail boxes as they do in newer neighborhoods and wildly reduce the number of hours spent by letter carriers stopping at hundreds of individual mailboxes.

    It’s actually quote comical to think that there is a massive government agency that employs hundreds of thousands of unionized workers to personally deliver piles of trash to our homes, which other unionized workers come once a week to take away.

    Here in San Francisco I have to pay a penalty to get bag at the grocery store (I now shop outside the city limits), but in an instant I would support a “green” initiative that would rid me of the constant stream of nonsense that, as a single guy living alone, literally makes up at least half of what I put out on garbage day.

    I’d say a good portion of the litter I see on the street consists of the useless supermarket flyers that seem to come every other day to remind me that, yes, Safeway still carries milk and canned goods.

  18. Cutlass

    This is comforting:

    “Across the country, postal employees are participating in more than 850 green teams,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Thomas G. Day.

    “Motivated by a desire to be good stewards of the environment, and our sustainability call to action, ‘leaner, greener, faster, smarter,’ employee green teams are helping the Postal Service achieve positive results in energy reduction and resource conservation.”

    Meanwhile:

    Faced with multibillion-dollar losses and significant declines in first-class mail, the post office is cutting deals with businesses and direct mail marketers to increase the number of sales pitches they send by standard mail, the official term the agency uses for what is less kindly referred to as junk mail.

    How about Republicans in the House push through a bill to eliminate the USPS as an environmental initiative? After all,  “creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.”

  19. EJHill

    The News contacted the head of the Postal Carriers union and received the following statement via emai…

  20. Foxfier

    This won’t be popular, but… from where I’m sitting, there are four or five post offices in a ten minute drive. (Twenty, if there’s traffic.)  There are also several businesses that rent mail boxes, since the design of every post office I’ve tried has been horrible.

    At my folks’ home valley, there are two in an hour’s drive.

    Guess which ones they cut Saturday operation from last time there was a budget issue….

    *****

    The Post Office provides an important service, just like public roads.  They still need some sensible business management.

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