Though many people argue that snail mail is going the way of the dinosaurs, there are actually several reasons why this isn’t—and shouldn’t—be the case. The impact of the U.S. Postal service is a bit more far-reaching than many people may realize; here are ten of the reasons why this service isn’t quite the relic you may think.
- Supplying Medication to Housebound Patients – For Americans with illnesses that leave them housebound but aren’t serious enough to justify the expense of full-time home healthcare, the Postal Service’s next-day mailing service and six day schedule help to prevent complications that can arise due to missed medication. In addition to this, the six day work week also helps mail order medical supply companies keep their costs down, as expensive overnight charges can be avoided with proper timing.
- Plays a Major Role in the National Economic Structure – More than 8.5 million people are employed within the mailing and shipping industry, which supports almost $1 trillion dollars in annual economic activity.
- There’s Still a Need For Postal Services – Almost every business, from the largest corporation to the smallest Mom and Pop operation, relies on the Postal Service for the delivery of advertising, billing, and goods. Though it may not seem like it as more companies take steps to go paperless, there are still a vast number of services that are only offered via mail.
- Even Private Shipping Companies Use The Postal Service – One of the arguments that many people make against the U.S. Postal Service is that there are other companies offering the same services, such as UPS or FedEx. What most people don’t know is that deliveries on the local level are regularly handed off by these businesses to the Postal Service, who actually completes the delivery.
- Physical Goods Can’t Be Emailed – Technology hasn’t quite reached the point of sending a tangible item digitally, and until that day comes all of those orders we place to online retailers still have to be processed by brick-and-mortar facilities and delivered by people.
- Potential Damage to Publishers – While you can certainly read the latest issue of your favorite magazine on a tablet, the vast majority of Americans prefer to receive their magazines and newspapers in print. Additionally, greeting card companies, who still rely greatly on the Postal Service, could take a substantial hit if postal reform includes a major hike in postage prices or the closing of more offices.
- Rural Americans Have No Other Choice – It may be difficult for city dwellers to imagine, but there are still a large number of Americans in rural areas that simply do not have the option of high-speed internet service. For these families, the Postal Service is still a very important part of the way they communicate and receive periodicals.
- The Universal Service Obligation – Private carriers can exclude certain areas in their delivery realm, leaving residents without access to their services altogether. The U.S. Postal Service, however, has the “universal service obligation” to deliver everywhere.
- A Sense of Community – For smaller towns especially, post offices still serve as a hub of the community in many ways. It’s not unusual to find bulletin boards advertising services inside the post office, along with a feeling of local pride. On a larger scale, even seasoned urbanites tend to view the post office as a link to both community and government.
- The Safety of Mail and Mailboxes – Because the Postal Service holds the monopoly on mailbox deliveries, the safety of citizens’ private information and correspondence is protected to a large extent. Having a single, dedicated mail carrier in a given neighborhood means that there are only two groups with access to that mailbox: designated postal workers and the family who lives at the address. In the event of postal privatization, that monopoly would be lost, giving any courier access to information that could potentially be used to nefarious ends.
The congressional solution to the Postal Service problem is to simply slash jobs, close rural post offices and put an end to the six-day delivery schedule. While this will certainly save money in the short term, the damage to the long-term economic fabric could be substantial. The ripple-effect of these cuts will be felt by both private and business mail customers.