The Times West Virginian

Opinion

February 8, 2013

Giving up home delivery of mail on Saturdays sacrifice that must be made

There’s finally a move out of Washington, D.C., that makes sense. A move that will save us cents.

Billions worth, actually.

This week, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe announced that the U.S. Postal Service would no longer have home delivery of mail on Saturdays effective Aug. 1. This move is estimated to save the service at least $2 billion per year.

It’s a good move, considering the service suffered a loss of nearly $16 billion last year.

Long hampered by Congress to not only keep six-day home delivery but to make very large prepayments toward retiree benefits, the quasi-government agency has been drowning in red ink and unable to swim because of all the red tape.

Of course, the decision to eliminate home delivery of mail on Saturdays doesn’t come without people voicing fears of “particularly harmful” impacts on rural America. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., issued a statement Wednesday denouncing the service’s decision.

“In our rural areas, these postal facilities are more than just places to send and receive mail — they are truly the lifelines of their communities and can be the only way a town is able to stay connected,” Manchin said. “Although the Postal Service must cut back on spending and get its fiscal house in order, cutting the muscle instead of the fat from its budget will not benefit the agency and will harm our communities in West Virginia and across our country.”

And Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said the cutback is “a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers,” particularly businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication.

While we understand Manchin’s and Rolando’s concerns, we also know sometimes sacrifices have to be made. Giving up the home delivery of mail one day each week — and don’t forget, packages will still be delivered on Saturdays — seems like a small compromise that will have positive financial effects.

Plus, the Postal Service thinks it has a majority of the American public on its side — the service’s market research indicates that nearly 7 in 10 people support the switch as a way to reduce costs.

Count us among the supporters. This move will not only help save the Postal Service, but it will help save people’s jobs.

And don’t forget about the money being saved, from the $2 billion the Postal Service expects to save annually all the way down to our very own pockets. How? Consider that just this month, the Postal Service increased the cost of first-class stamps to 46 cents, while postcard prices went up to 33 cents. It was the fifth increase since 2006.

This move should cut down on the need for such frequent increases, saving us money each time we pay a bill, send someone a birthday card or mail a postcard while we’re on vacation.

We know change isn’t easy. We’ve all relied on the home delivery of mail on Saturdays for many, many years.

And we don’t expect this latest proposal by the Postal Service to occur without a few bumps along the way.

But sometimes a simple sacrifice — giving up one day of home delivery of mail — ends up being one that makes a lot of sense in the long run. And with Donahoe saying that “our financial condition is urgent,” we can think of no better time for the sacrifice to be made.

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