Where’s Moist von Lipwig when you need him? Though, honestly, the hero of the Discworld novel Going Postal would probably have a lot of problems fixing the financial woes of the US Postal Service. The Post Office is now scheduled to announce that, beginning this August, deliveries will no longer be made on Saturdays.
The no Saturday deliveries extends to just the delivery of mail, and not to the delivery of packages, which will still be delivered. Part of this has to do with the fact that package delivery has increased over the last three years by 14% while delivery of other forms of mail has declined.
Post offices that are also open on Saturdays will remain open on Saturdays, and post office boxes will still get their mail on Saturdays.
The Postal Services is subject to Congressional Control even though it is an independent agency. They have tried to shift to this new schedule for several years, but been blocked by Congress. They also do not get any money from the government for their day-to-day operations.
Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe is confident that the American people are behind the move and has noted that almost 70% of Americans approve of it. He said in a statement that “The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America’s changing mailing habits. We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings.”
He went on to say “The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports these steps as a responsible and reasonable approach to improving our financial situation. The Postal Service has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to return to long-term financial stability and ensure the continued affordability of the U.S. Mail.”
The Postal Service has been running in the red for a while. Last year, they reported a loss of $15.9 billion. Of that, $11.1 billion came from Congressionally mandated accounts to cover the future medical costs of retirees. Beginning in 2006, they were forced to put aside $5.5 billion a year into the overall account before paying for anything else. When Congress refused to take up the issue last session, the Postal Services defaulted on the payments, which has already hit the point of having enough to cover the expenses it is suppose to.