2011 December 04 Sunday
US Postal Service To Slow First Class Mail

A newly proposed plan to cost half the US Postal Service's mail processing centers and a small percentage of local post offices will only save $3 billion out of an expected $14 billion deficit next year. No more next day mail. That makes first class less valuable of course and will further hasten its decline.

WASHINGTON Facing bankruptcy, the U.S. Postal Service is pushing ahead with unprecedented cuts to first-class mail next spring that will slow delivery and, for the first time in 40 years, eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day.

A more rational approach would be to close the vast majority of local post offices and move their services into pharmacies, Wal-Marts, K-Marts, and other stores. That way employees of the stores can do postal transactions when needed with much lower labor costs. European countries have adopted this approach. So why not the US? Congressional representatives are more interested in satisfying postal union workers and other groups that want the status quo.

The focus on measures that slow the delivery of mail is being done because the USPS has more latitude to make changes in this area without Congressional approval. But slower delivery lowers the value of mail which will of course accelerate the decline in usage of mail. That's got upsides though: The USPS financial crisis will intensify and so Congress might feel enough pressure to vote authority to the USPS to shut down most local post offices.

The head of the USPS wants to escape from no-layoff contract clauses it foolishly agreed to with unions.

Donahoe is calling for emergency legislation to remove the USPS from layoff protection agreements it has entered into with unions.

The postal workers are spending about $12 per employee to buy influence with Democrats in Congress.

Unions for postal workers contributed $7 million in the 2010 elections, 90 percent to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.

I'm surprised they don't spend even more. Though the demand for their services is dropping so rapidly that the best they can do is delay their layoffs. Still a whole year of delay is worth more to each employee than $12.

My advice: Make your personal contribution postal service cost cutting. Move more billing online. Every time something comes in the physical mail ask how you can stop that source from sending you more mail. Here are ways to cut the flow of junk mail:

Update: Hey, some web sites provide easy ways to opt out of junk mail and catalogs for your physical mail box. Some associations of direct mailers have online forms for turning off the junk. I just went thru and listed myself on DirectMail.com's Mail Preference Registry. Opting out there is easy to do. I also registered (more steps required) for the DMAchoice.org mail preference service of the Direct Marketing Association (which one web page claims can cut your junk mail by 75%). Once you've registered and logged back in from the email response you need to go into each category and click on the bottom right button on each category to opt out of the entire category. You can also selectively do steps for individual companies listed there. Those are my first two steps to cut back on junk mail. If you are like me and rarely find anything useful in junk mail I suggest you do likewise.

Update II: To get rid of credit card or insurance mail offers use OptOutPrescreen.com which tells Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion credit report firms not to use your credit info to help credit card and insurance companies know to mail to you.

Also, you can turn off Valassis Red Plum and Cox Target Media ValPak. For other web pages and also email addresses to send opt-out junk mail requests to see the Ecycycle.org opt-out suggestion list, the WikiHow Get Rid Of Junk Mail,and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse fact sheet on junk mail.

Less mail means fewer distractions from life.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 December 04 09:08 AM  Economics Government Effectiveness

Dan Morgan said at December 5, 2011 11:47 AM:

It's pretty ridiculous that there is no way to sign up with the USPS to stop receiving junk mail. But the unions won't allow it. So the post office has become substantially a junk mail delivery service. The USPS is obsolete and should be sold off.

I would gladly pay a monthly fee to get mail delivered if it was free of junk mail.

If I could pay Fedex say $5 a month to delivery mail free of junk mail say twice per week, I would do it. There is nothing I get in the mail that can't wait a few days. I wonder how many other people would pay to opt out of the USPS system.

Crazy Horse said at December 7, 2011 2:41 PM:

Sorry that is happening. The Mail is one of the greatest institutions man has created and depended on for centuries.

Randall Parker said at December 7, 2011 7:17 PM:


You can get a lot of the junk mail turned off buy going to the sites I linked to. I've done it and cut my junk mail flow.

Crazy Horse,

The USPS has been obsolesced. A declining amount of information moves by the mail. Only parcel movement still serves a useful purpose.

The USPS, unions, and Congress have made the situation worse by not allowing the USPS to adapt the way European post offices have done. There's still some smaller need for moving letters and other paper around at rates much below FedEx prices. But to keep that channel of distribution flowing the USPS needs to shut down and out-source post offices to banks, drug stores, grocery stores, and department stores.

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