The End of the Post Office?


United States Post Offices are even sadder places to work now than they usually are.

From the way people talk about the post office these days, you’d think the place was on the verge of shutting down.

The post office recently reported a $3.8 billion loss in the 2009 fiscal year. This comes after the postal service cut operating costs by $6 billion and cut tens of thousands of jobs. To make matters worse, this is the third year in a row that it has lost billions of dollars.

As CNN Money reports, the postal service industry is now formally considering eliminating Saturday service as a way to cut costs further. By some estimates, this could save as much as $3.5 billion a year. Yet, this idea has been tossed around for months, with some arguing that it would be better to skip Tuesday, rather than Saturday. At this point, maybe we should just rely on carrier pigeons for half the week instead.

However, the postal service is considering another basic change to help make up for the budget shortfall.

At a recent government panel discussion (aptly titled, More Than Stamps: Adapting the Postal Service to a Changing World), congressional representatives refused to discuss the option of cutting service. Instead, they are hoping to innovate in other ways.

According to the Washington Post, postal service officials are looking for congressional permission “to sell items such as pens, markers and presentation folders, along with banking, insurance and telecommunications products.” The Post also points out that some branches do already sell greeting cards.

Now that’s innovative thinking. Because there’s nowhere else you can go to pick up envelopes, pens and folders. That is, assuming the government forces Staples to close.

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