Oct 4, 2010

Six-Day Mail Delivery

Here are some (excerpted) stats from usps.com

1775 - Benjamin Franklin appointed first Postmaster General by the Continental Congress
1847 - U.S. postage stamps issued
1855 - Prepayment of postage required
1860 - Pony Express began
1863 - Free city delivery began
1873 - U.S. postal cards issued
1874 - First commemorative stamps issued
1896 - Rural free delivery began
1913 - Parcel Post began
1918 - Scheduled airmail service began
1950 - Residential deliveries reduced to one a day
1963 - ZIP Code inaugurated
1970 - Express Mail began experimentally
1974 - Adhesive stamps tested
1982 - Last year Postal Service accepted public service subsidy
1983 - ZIP+4 Code began
1992 - Self-adhesive stamps introduced nationwide
2007 - Forever stamp issued
It seems to me that if the USPS were to stay viable into the next couple of hundred years, a few things need to change. If the last public subsidy was 1982, why weren't the federal mandates ended at that time, too? They tell USPS what they must do, and what they can charge, but won't subsidize the mandates? And people get mad when stamps go up two cents?

Congress mandates universal delivery (even to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, which has to be done by pack mule.) If delivery were privatized, only people in cities would get delivery at all. Those in remote areas would have to come to town to get their mail.

Congress mandates 6-day delivery. I still can't figure that one out. 200 years ago, US Mail was the only means by which people communicated with loved ones far away. Today we have options about which Benjamin Franklin didn't even dream! My daughter texts me from a mile away. One friend phones me from 3 miles away. I get emails from another friend a thousand miles away. I'm on Facebook with a friend across the Atlantic Ocean. My daughter Skypes with her friend in Japan.

Do we really need six day mail delivery? Congress, it seems, is still in the 18th century by refusing to repeal this archaic regulation. (Speaking of archaic, we won't even get into the fact - right now - that the USPS still uses carbon paper.)

I love stamps. They're like little works of art. I love finding a handwritten note in my mailbox. I want the USPS to succeed. I want Congress to back off and let them do so profitably. I think I'll write my Congresscritters a handwritten note and ask for their cooperation in this matter. I'll mail it via USPS.

To whom will you write a note today?

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