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Let's keep Saturday mail delivery

Published February 09. 2013 09:02AM

As a retired small-business owner, I understand the importance of cash flow. Even though my invoice terms were net 14 days, clients would often delay payment for 60 or even 90 days. We were a very payroll intensive company. Our staff consultants had to be paid every two weeks. The time delay between paying our staff and receiving payment from our clients severely impacted our cash flow. Our large corporate clients managed their cash flow very well. They would mail their payments to arrive on a Saturday when the banks were closed. That way we could not present the check for payment until Monday. Competition from savings and loans and community banks forced our bank to open on a Saturday. This enabled us to deposit the checks earlier and gave us access to our money two days sooner.

The Postal Service announced that they are discontinuing Saturday delivery effective August 1 of this year. They claim that it will make little difference to the public while saving United States Postal Service over $2 billion annually. Patrick Donahue, the Postmaster General, clearly does not understand how his decision to stop Saturday service affects small business. Furthermore, he does not state how the $2 billion savings will be achieved. Will the USPS be downsized, throwing honest hard-working employees onto the streets? Will the National Association of Letter Carriers accept these layoffs or will they strike? Will the cutbacks actually result in lower costs? These questions need to be answered before cutting Saturday service.

For the last 30 years, Congress has included a provision requiring the Postal Service to provide Saturday deliveries. Only Congress can remove this provision. Clearly the Postmaster General is acting on his own, without congressional approval. He is acting like a dictator, imposing his will and flaunting Congress and the law of the land. Given that the Postal Service is losing $16 billion a year, cutting Saturday delivery will not solve their problems. Only a revenue increase that reflects the actual cost of delivering mail can return the Postal Service to profitability. The cost of mailing a standard letter needs to increase. In Canada, it cost $.63 to post an envelope. The USPS only charges $.46 for the standard letter. Current postage rates do not reflect the cost of mailing. In 2012, the post office delivered 68 trillion pieces of mail ( A five-cent increase in the cost of first-class mail would eliminate the deficit and make the USPS profitable again. This is a small price to pay for the excellent service provided by the USPS. If the Postal Service achieves profitability, they will be better able to compete with other delivery services.

No matter how hard businesses try to eliminate physical mail, most Americans prefer to receive birthday cards, invoices and coupons in the mail. Every day, I look forward to walking down to my mailbox to collect the mail. I suspect that for many retired people like me, it gives us a reason to get out of the house. Now the Postmaster General wants to rob me of one of my simple pleasures, retrieving the mail on Saturdays.

I doubt that the Postmaster General lives in a rural area. For many of us rural residents, newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, are delivered by mail. What will happen to the Saturday edition of the WSJ? Will the special weekend edition be left sitting in a Post Office until Monday? If so, by the time the weekend edition is received, many of the articles will be out of date.

I think the United States has the finest postal service in the world. I have lived in other countries where businesses are held hostage by postal unions that strike at the drop of a hat. Our letter carriers and postal contractors provide far better service than postal workers in other countries. When I lived in Canada, postal strikes crippled small businesses, sometimes to the point of bankruptcy. We moved our business to the United States in part because the United States Postal Service was reliable and cost-effective. I am dumbfounded when I hear my fellow Americans complaining about the Postal Service. It is efficient, it is reliable and it is inexpensive.

The best tribute to the Postal workers is an inscription on the James Farley Post office in New York. "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." Saturday delivery has been a tradition for over 150 years. Lets not curtail this valuable service. If you agree with me, please send the Postmaster General a letter supporting Saturday service. Address it to:

Postmaster General

U.S. Postal Service

475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW

Washington, DC 20260-0010

The correct format for the salutation is Mr. Postmaster General. Please send a copy of the letter to your congressman and your senators. We must let our politicians know how important the United States Postal Service is to our nation, our businesses and our citizens.

© 2013 Gordon Smith - All Rights Reserved

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