Americans support ending Saturday U.S. Postal Service deliveries, and that support isn't subtle. In recent years, separate polls suggested anywhere between 60 and 80 percent supported the end of Saturday service to save costs.
To lose the U.S. Postal Service — one of few agencies explicitly authorized by the Constitution — would be a terrible shame. It is the only service that can reach every American household. Private companies serve the cities and suburbs quite well, but there is no incentive for them to serve the distant, the remote rural and the very poor.
The U.S. Postal Service is an independent governmental agency that doesn't take taxpayer funds, but it is completely controlled by the whims of the U.S. Congress, whose members are cowed by their home district post office advocates and the postal workers union. This is the same Congress that passed an unaffordable law in 2006 requiring sizable contributions to a health fund for USPS's future retirees.
So small post offices that are inefficient and underused stay open when they should be shut. Fighting for the little post office on the corner sounds noble: But at what cost?
And we'll be stuck with Saturday deliveries even though we don't want them, don't need them, and eliminating them would be one step to saving the postal service altogether.
The U.S. Postal Service is game: It slated 70 offices and processing centers to close, only to be beaten back by Congress.
Five-day delivery has been the postal service's goal for some time. In February, it proposed a five-day schedule — packages stillwould have been delivered on Saturday and post offices now open on Saturday would remain open. But it didn't float the idea to members of Congress. The service boldly took it right to the American people. It announced that on Aug. 10 of this year, it would end its 150-year tradition of delivering mail on Saturdays.
Remember that hue and cry you didn't hear?
That's because it was tucked deep into the lobby of the U.S. Congress, which passed a resolution in March requiring the money-hemorrhaging service to continue to deliver on Saturdays.
So this week, the USPS threw in the towel on a move that would save it $2 billion a year.
"The board believes that Congress has left it with no choice but to delay this implementation at this time," the Postal Service said.
That wrongheaded proposal was tucked into the totally unrelated law that keeps the government funded, but only through September — that's just months away, and just a few weeks from when hardly anyone would have been missing their Saturday mail.
So we continue to careen between manufactured crises, from panic to panic, with the will of most regular Americans not being served. It's an example that shows that Congress is reliably constant about something.