You know, I have never understood the vileness that many conservatives, and especially many Fox News commentators, have heaped on the Postal Service, and especially the people that work for the service. I have always had a good relationship with the friendly people at my Post Office and the people who deliver my mail.
Mistakes happen in delivery from time to time but, facing the truth, the Postal Service is often blamed many more times for delivery issues that are just not its fault. ("The check is in the mail"). The point is that many conservatives have a political narrative to fulfill. And, hard working, non-partisan, people who work for the government, and get insurance and retirement benefits, often draw the ire of these types.
Besides, the Postal Service has been vital to the establishment of free speech, communication and the growth of our country. We should be proud of it and proud of the people who work there. Did you know, for example, that upon the establishment of our country that the Postal Service had to deliver all newspapers for free to everyone that wanted one, regardless of the political persuasion of the paper. The reason was that everyone wanted speech to be as free and available as possible, and so that diverse opinions would be available in our marketplace.
It is beyond the fault of the Postal Service that the federal government of both parties pull out funds for other purposes, hindering its self-sufficiency. Is short, postage is more than cost of use. It is a tax and the government cannot live without the additional revenue.
It is a shame that this type of misinformation and bombast has been allowed to penetrated the debate over the future of the Postal Service, and whether it should stop service, reduce service or be privatized.
First, let me say that it should not be privatized. I think the privatization of everything is a problem in this country. In order to have free markets, available to everyone, the government's obligation is to keep the backbone or avenues of commerce open and affordable for everyone to use and especially to use in the establishment of businesses (competition). The issue related to the denial of access by cable TV, the net neutrality debates, restrictions of access by phone companies and utilities illustrates the problems of for-profit companies controlling these backbones.
Second, with all of this said, there is nothing wrong with admitting that technology has simply (and rapidly) overtaken much of the needed mechanisms of the Postal Service. It does not have the same need or demand that it once had.
But, this does not mean that there is no need or demand for services from the Postal Services. It is just to say that the Postal Services does not need to go high tech as much as it needs to go all tech.
When I get mail, it is mostly advertisements, magazines, speciality newspapers, and bills. Occasionally, I receive a check.
I do not open much of the advertisements, I can have most of my bills sent to me via email if I really wanted to.
Magazines are the real problem. They will have to likely go fully digital in order to survive if their main source of distribution is the Postal Service, and this they are resisting.
As for bill collectors, it is probably their lifeblood. But, then again, I do not like or care for bill collectors.
Sometimes there is money sent via mail. Much of this can be handled by banks now, but to the degree it cannot, there has to be reasonably simply high tech systems for the deliver of funds to someone via the mail other than by a check stuck in an envelope. Most of the settlement funds to my law firm come via wire transfer or by overnight delivery not involving the Postal Service.
Then, for course, there is certified mail. I receive it. I send it. It is the most important task of most professionals like me. What is interesting, however, is that most of the certified letters I send and received are compiled, packages and mailed automatically through various online services.
Packages and hand delivery are no longer the problem. I can send something UPS ground that gets where it is desired within a day or two. I can track my packages, confirm when they were delivered, and it is typically cheaper than certified mail.
So, what can be done?
You still need the Postal Service because it is the agency that define addresses for everyone. Most industries, websites and services depend on the this division of the government to define this necessary information.
I would simply suggest this:
Magazines will be forced to change their method of distribution. Bill collectors will be forced to comply with the new system.
The postal service can create its own giant mail server that will be based upon, not individual email addresses of people, but on email addresses dedicated for each of the property addresses in the country. A true electronic mailbox for every propery, and not every person.
I am sure techies can figure out how to let people claim their addresses and exclude mail from the email address, and redirect mail from email address, as people move about.
This will eliminate the need for postage, and post office building in every community.
There will undoubtedly have to be some changes in the law enacting the same protection for the emails posted and sent through this system in way of privacy and fraud, as with the regular mail. But, the system will allow everyone to mail an address and a particular person, even if we did not know a persons personal email address.
It would allow me to send a certified letter, which the person can claim and sign for with an established PIN wherever they are at a computer.
The system might actually better than the current physical system of delivery because it should be possible for someone to tell if the mail sent was actually opened or accessed.
Some people might not pick up their certified letters, but that is no different than today. There just has to be a presumption that people will check their mail. In the physical world of mail, checking the mailbox is just a habit that has been reinforced with each of us over the years. The same will be true for this type of address-based email.
It does not require someone to maintain a computer, but they can check and print off their mail at libraries and any place they can get to a computer.
Handwritten letters and cards can be scanned, if needed. It has to be cheaper to have a computer or two and a scanner in every community than to maintain a post office building and people. If we can manage to get some many public locations to install and maintain machines to sell and record lottery tickets, then we should be able to do the same for people checking and mailing via the Postal Services internet.
Again, if someone does not pick up their mail, then the sender can be informed via autoresponders.
As for packages, were are now reaching a point where FedEx, UPS and smaller carriers have this covered, track each package online, and reach even the most isolated areas of the country.
There will be a cost for this kind of broad deliver service, especially for services such as certified mail.
There is always a problem with overseas mail, but I would suggest that as goes the United States will go other governments, and there might just need to be private services to print and ship overseas.