Most of Us Want the Post Office to Kill Saturday Delivery? Really?

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PostmanAccording to U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, 7 out of every 10 Americans polled say they like the idea of the U.S. Postal Service eliminating Saturday mail delivery in order to cut $2 billion a year off of the Post Office's budget.

And so ... that's just what he's going to do.

Donahoe announced on Wednesday that rather than wait for Congress to propose a solution to the USPS's fiscal problems, he's going to order the service to halt Saturday letter deliveries beginning this August. Parcel delivery, however, would continue unchanged -- six days a week. Likewise, postmen will continue to stuff letters into "P.O. boxes" located right on-site at the post office, Monday to Friday, and Saturday, too.

But here's the thing: a $2 billion budget haircut simply won't cut it.

Postmen and Straw Men

While USPS defenders argue that the service's biggest problem is that it has to pay $5.5 billion a year into a special fund for covering future healthcare costs of its retiring workers, the fact remains that USPS lost $15.9 billion last year, and is barreling towards an annual loss of as much as $18.2 billion annually just two years from now.

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That makes Donahoe's plan to save $2 billion by canceling Saturday delivery less than a half-measure. It's more like an 11 percent-measure -- and one with a zero percent chance of fixing the problem.

And it gets worse. If you add up all the proposals Donahoe has floated over the past few months, all aimed at fixing the USPS's fiscal issues, they still don't amount to much more than a band-aid on a patient in sore need of major surgery:
  • Closing 3,800 rural post offices and processing centers, and laying off 35,000 mailmen, could save $3 billion.
  • A pilot program to offer same-day package delivery in San Francisco could raise another $50 million in revenue -- or even $500 million if it were expanded to more cities.
  • Suspending payment of the $5.5 billion annual healthcare contribution would save ... $5.5 billion. Natch.
  • And of course, last month's penny-a-letter price hike (to $0.46 for a first-class stamp) could add $1.5 billion to USPS revenue
Add it all up, and you still come up close to $8 billion short.

When you get right down to it, then, it's hard to imagine why 7 out of 10 Americans would support a move to make their mail service less convenient that still falls far short of actually fixing the Postal Service's problem. Indeed, even if you assume Donahoe really did have a poll conducted, and didn't simply pull the 7 out of 10 figure out of the air, it makes you wonder how USPS surveyors phrased the question in order to get that result.

Be that as it may: Now that you know the real numbers, what do you think? Do you still, like the Postmaster General says, overwhelmingly support the decision to cut Saturday delivery? Or do you perhaps have a better solution? Sound off below.
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