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Springville Journal editorial: Through rain and sleet and dark of night ... but not on Saturdays

SPRINGVILLE — Last month, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe announced that the United States Post Office will adopt a five-day delivery schedule, beginning in August. Saturdays will be mail-free and postal workers will get a real weekend, for the first time.

The elimination of Saturday mail delivery will reduce the post office’s monetary losses by approximately $2 billion, per year. With our nation teetering on such a precarious economic cliff, this kind of savings – for a governmental agency, no less – sounds like a great idea.

Surprisingly, many officials are up in arms, about this new arrangement. In the past, the post office has balked at the idea of going to a five-day delivery week, saying that it was Congressionally required to carry cards, letters and bills to United States citizens, Monday – Saturday. Many lawmakers are calling foul on Donahoe’s pulling a 180-degree, but the postmaster general claimed that his announcement is in keeping with Congress’s continuing resolution, which expires in March.

While Congress’s annual appropriations bill has always required a six-day delivery from the post office, no such bill has reared its head, this year, and the continuing resolution does not specify the post office’s delivery schedule. Donahoe is going ahead with his money-saving idea.

The post office desperately needs to dig itself out of its budget nightmare. According to The New York Times, the post office experienced $15.9 billion in losses, just last year. Thanks to both the $5.5 billion in annual health benefits the office pays for future retirees and to electronic mail and payment services, the post office has fallen out of the black and far into the red.

“Our financial condition is urgent,” Donahoe said. “In October, at one point this year, the Postal Service had less than four days of cash on hand. That’s a very situation and it’s no situation that a business should be in.”

Australia, Canada and Sweden, among other countries, already deliver mail on only business days. Even knowing that those countries are eking out an existence with mail-less weekends, and taking into account the United States’ economy, many lawmakers and citizens are still opposed to this change.

The post office hastened to point out that its existing offices will continue to be staffed on their usual Saturday hours; packages will still be mailed on Saturdays and post office boxes will continue to be filled. The only elimination will be door-to-door mail delivery.

I believe the pros greatly outweigh the cons, with this cut. The inconvenience of having to wait until Monday to receive grandmother’s letter can, in no way, outweigh a $2 billion reduction in costs. If we want to get our country back on its monetary feet, cuts have to be made somewhere. And this seems like a small price to pay.

“In his recent inaugural address, President [Barack] Obama spoke about the need to find real solutions to our nation’s problems,” wrote House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Tom Coburn. “Supporting the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to move forward with five-day mail delivery is one such solution worthy of bipartisan support.”

Let’s allow the mail carriers that extra day off and give a thumbs-up to this economic step. Which is a positive one, for a change.

In other news, Donahoe makes more money than the treasury secretary and the defense secretary do. Maybe the Saturday deliveries should not be the only cuts made, post office.

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