OUR VIEW: The post office in transition

By Daily News • Last Updated 10:28 am on Monday, December 12, 2011

The United States Postal Service is requesting Congressional approval of some substantial changes to postal delivery in the United States. Life in these United States keeps changing. With so many of the institutions that we need and enjoy, emerging logistics have changed the rules of the game. The people, the buildings and the challenge involved not surprisingly costs money that the current system can no longer afford.

The post office is becoming a part of American lore, along with the Pony Express and Western Union Telegraph. With the latest Postal System request it’s the relevance of the service that is being seriously challenged. Even today, as in generations past, people watch for the mailman or wait at the mailbox for expected daily delivery of a special something. Bigger items that once came on the Wells-Fargo wagon now come from the UPS truck or FedEx.

Back in the day, “Post Office” was a game that early teenagers played, and the secrets of those games, never-to-be divulged, are still sacred.

The Postal Service is running out of money. Pension and health care costs are huge, but unlike many government entitlement programs that push the bill to future generations, the postal system is required to pre-fund them. Unlike many federal and state employee benefits, they pay as they go. It’s not just those entitlement costs, but changing times that are threatening the system. How would you like the responsibility to be able to deliver to all addresses in the United States every day except Sunday?
It’s silly to dither over whether the Postal System is still relevant. Of course, it is.

Postal people already know the territory. The challenge for them is to develop an operating model that meshes with available new technologies, with facilities and a workforce that matches a changing workload.

Our country has remote nook-and-cranny pockets of people seriously in need of postal delivery. The service, if not daily, should at least be on a regular and reliable schedule with reasonably accessible terminals.

We should expect a radically different postal delivery service. The system must dramatically downsize and they are doing it. The belt-tightening will be tough, not only for those warriors who tend to their rounds “despite rain, snow and the gloom of night,” but for established business customers whose success depends on short delivery times and specific delivery days.

On another scale, the politically inspired term for people unemployed is now “workers in transition.” But more than ever before, we are all in transition. If you don’t yet realize what’s happening, the message will come in the mail.

 Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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