published Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Internet and free market confront Postal Service with painful realities

The announcement that 110 workers at Chattanooga's Shallowford Road Mail Processing and Distribution Center will be transferred or laid off sometime after mid-May highlights the painful but inescapable fact that the Postal Service has grown less useful to many Americans.

The closing of the Chattanooga facility is one of hundreds announced Thursday. Nationwide, closings and consolidations will mean the loss of about 35,000 jobs, postal officials said, though many are expected to come through attrition, not layoffs.

No one delights in job losses, but the Postal Service cannot keep operating at current staffing levels when demand for its services has plunged.

How grave is the agency's financial condition? On its current trajectory, it expects to be losing up to $18.2 billion per year by 2015.

Much of that is due to the fact that millions of Americans every year are turning to the Internet for bill paying and routine correspondence. It's fast and doesn't require the cumbersome use of stamps and envelopes.

Given those advantages, there is no reason to think Americans in large numbers are going to return to traditional mail -- particularly when the agency is looking at raising stamp prices over time by up to 5 cents and eliminating Saturday delivery, which will make its services even more expensive and less convenient.

It's true the Constitution let the federal government establish the Postal Service: "The Congress shall have Power ... to establish Post Offices and Post Roads," Article I says.

But the Constitution does not mandate post offices -- much less require the Postal Service to have staffing levels that disregard actual market demand. So as troubling as job losses and facilities closings are, there simply appears to be no option.

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justaperson said...

Please get the facts correct. There are over 300 employees at Chattanooga's Shallowford Road Mail Processing and Distribution Center. Each and every one of them will be impacted by the closing. It doesn't matter if they take a position at another facility or not, they are adversely impacted. Any move, change in income, a home that must be sold, retirement, etc, when forced by a plant closure is a negative inpact on every employee and all their family members.

February 25, 2012 at 4:17 p.m.
rogerdodger said...

I agree that it will impact all but the fact that most of the jobs are computerized and people are sick of paying union workers $20 something dollars an hour to push a broom or mop floors. If people want to complain go talk to the retired people that are having to go back to work at McDonald's to try and make ends meet because of the policies this president has after being bought by the unions.

February 25, 2012 at 8 p.m.
Plato said...

^Yea shame on people for wanting a decent working wage - let them go work at McDonalds, eat beans and sleep on a park bench, and for the minorities, put their kids to work as janitors in the school system like "Cheerful Newt" has suggested :(

February 25, 2012 at 8:43 p.m.
rogerdodger said...

Wow guess you are what is called pro union. But where did I say no one deserved a decent working wage. If you have a company would you pay someone $25 to sweep? I like many others have a very goods job and did not have to pay some union crook to get it for me.

February 25, 2012 at 9:45 p.m.
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