Feature

Deliver the post office from failure

The U.S. Postal Service has 600,000 employees, “more than twice as many U.S. outlets as McDonald’s,” and more vehicles than any organization on the planet, said Annie Lowrey at Slate.com.

Annie Lowrey
Slate.com

The idea that you can send a letter anywhere in the U.S. for 44 cents is “elegant, efficient, even amazing,” said Annie Lowrey. But the “hulking, foundering, money-hemorrhaging bureaucracy” that provides that service could run out of cash as early as this month.

The U.S. Postal Service is enormous and very expensive. It has 600,000 employees, “more than twice as many U.S. outlets as McDonald’s,” and more vehicles than any organization on the planet. To pay for that behemoth, people have to buy stamps and send mail, but mail volume is down 25 percent since 2006. Unless that trend turns around, the USPS will lose $238 billion by 2020, or “three times the size of the auto bailout.”

The Postal Service has made some admirable attempts at survival, including laying off 110,000 people, closing branches, and streamlining operations. But more-radical changes are needed. To save money, it has proposed laying off 120,000 more employees, withdrawing from federal pension and health-care plans, ending Saturday delivery, and using more part-time workers. You’d better “expect changes—and soon”—to your mailbox.

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