OUR OPINION: Saturday mail service plan isn't surprising

By NEMS Daily Journal

Wednesday’s announcement that the U.S. Postal Service will stop Saturday mail delivery Aug. 1, 2013, except for packages, comes as no surprise in light of USPS’s soaring losses ($15.9 billion in 2012) and its other cost-cutting moves. Those included consolidating and eliminating processing centers, which cost Tupelo its processing operation.
The announcement by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe stirred widespread congressional comments, as had often been the case with past USPS service changes or planned post office closures.
U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee said he understands the value and convenience of Saturday house-to-house delivery, but added “the Post Office needs flexibility if it is going to survive in the 21st century world of emails, FedEx, and UPS. While I understand the concern regarding the timely delivery of essential items, it is important to note the Postal Service is maintaining a six-day delivery schedule for packages.”
Mississippi’s Sen. Thad Cochran had a different view. “I think it is important to maintain Saturday delivery of the mail. I will do my best to help influence a favorable change in this decision,” he said in a statement released by his Washington office.
Sen. Roger Wicker echoed Cochran’s concerns, “Last year, I supported legislation that would have placed a two-year moratorium on ending Saturday mail delivery and required a study to find other cost-saving options,” said Wicker. “Unfortunately, the Senate postal reform bill stalled. … We have asked the Postal Service to run its operation more like a business … but stopping Saturday delivery is the wrong decision.”
Delivery six days a week door-to-door has been a constant since the late 19th century, but it has not always been part of the post office’s regular service. USPS is an independent agency and is not funded by the federal government, as was the case through most of its history.
The move is expected to save about $2 billion a year. The postal service plans to continue Saturday delivery of packages, which remain a profitable and growing part of the delivery business, officials said.
Unions representing postal employees also joined the ranks of the opposition because of job loss concerns.
As in past postal debates, the outcome is uncertain, but the situation clearly is financially grave. Cutting back on most Saturday mail delivery does not seem an unreasonable path to pursue.