It looks like the recession has irrevocably wounded yet another industry. The U.S. Postal Service, drowning in debt and desperately flailing for financial rescue (when was the last time you wrote a letter?) has begun the process of trying to phase out home deliveries and Saturday mail services.
The House of Representatives is about to deliberate a bill that would kick-off the initiative. The measure would end free home delivery, and if you still want packages delivered (which, let's face it, you definitely do), you'll have to pay for delivery yourself. You also won't get any mail on Saturdays, unless it's medicine or a small-but-necessary delivery.
The intent to end door-to-door delivery and Saturday service was first announced last year, and was met with anger and widespread criticism. "Ending door-to-door delivery for tens of millions of Americans would particularly harm small businesses," said Fredric Renaldo, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers. "As well as the elderly, and people who live in areas with extreme weather."
The Postal Service is apologetic, but maintains that there's really nothing else than can be done, save financial ruin. Well, that's the non-spun version of their statement, courtesy of the bill's co-sponsor Blake Farenthold (R-Texas):
This bill is a huge step towards a financially sound 21st century Postal Service that meets the needs of America. It improves efficiency, right-sizes operations, and will keep the taxpayers off the hook for a massive bailout.
Translation: We won't keep doing this for free, and you'll pay less this way. So suck it up.
Ending free home delivery would save the Postal Office about $4.5 billion per year. Last year, it lost more than $15 billion, so we can kind of see why they're getting desperate.