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Ending Saturday mail delivery could save billions

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID
March 30, 2011

The Postal service could save a substantial amount of money by reducing mail delivery to five days, the Government Accountability Office said Tuesday.

The post office, which lost $8.5 billion last year, has proposed eliminating Saturday delivery as one of several moves aimed at reducing costs.

Postal officials have estimated the change would save $3.1 billion annually, and a new GAO study agreed that savings would be large, depending on how efficiently the cutback is handled.

In its analysis, GAO looked back at postal operations in 2009 and calculated that if there had been no Saturday delivery that year the post office would have saved $3.3 billion.

“We are pleased to see they agree that the Postal Service is likely to achieve significant cost savings if this change were to be effected, and that much of its success depends on how efficiently it is implemented. We agree and believe that having completed a lengthy planning process, we are prepared to make that happen,” Patrick R. Donahoe, the postmaster general, said in a statement.

The GAO report comes just days after the independent Postal Regulatory Commission issued its own report, calculating that the post office had overstated its projected savings from ending Saturday delivery by $1.4 billion.

The final decision on Saturday delivery will be made by Congress.

___

Online: http://www.usps.com

http://www.gao.gov

http://www.prc.gov

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

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31 Responses to Ending Saturday mail delivery could save billions

  1. Jon

    March 30, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I wouldn’t miss it. I also wouldn’t mind paying $0.50 for a stamp, either – It’s still an amazing bargain compared to driving halfway across the county to deliver something.

    And yes, there are things that still can’t be effectually electronically transmitted.

    J.

    • griff

      March 30, 2011 at 10:13 pm

      That’s true…fifty cents to mail some thing isn’t a bad price.

      The question is…

      Why does the government lose money doing it while private business profits from the same?

      Now ask yourself what other endeavors might a free market deliver cheaper and more efficiently than government.

      Public unions? Just a thought.

      • Jon

        March 30, 2011 at 11:46 pm

        Yep, the private sector does some things very well. Like, for example, banking, until it collapses, and then comes running for help. Or airlines, which cheerfully make money until they go bust, then they hide in bankruptcy court provided for them by, um…

        I don’t know about you, but I would rather have the government handling certain services than the “free market” (heh).

        See, what you get is a corporation running everything, and they are accountable only to the shareholders, and only for making money. If you want to have a vote in how a corporation does something, you need to own a part of it.

        Now, consider that in. re. government. Should voting be restricted only to those who, say, own property? It’s been tried… It didn’t work very well.

        No. The “Free Market” (which isn’t: See “Anarchy”) does not do everything better, because they do not have any responsibility to the people. They’re only in it for the money.

        And if you want to live in a world like that, please go find another, because I’d rather keep this one.

        J.

        • griff

          March 31, 2011 at 7:25 am

          So UPS or FedEx wouldn’t be a good example of free market competition providing quality service at a competitive price? And those scary UPS guys are running every thing! I see. While they profit the USPS runs in the red.

          Corporations already run every thing. Well, almost every thing. That is due to government “regulation.”

          No, the free market has the responsibility to provide a good product at a competitive price. Competition keeps prices low and innovation high. That wouldn’t be a direct responsibility to the people, but a business could not exist without some one to buy their products. So the responsibility would be to fulfill a demand in the market. If a company fails to do that, the company will not prosper.

          You complain of the banks running to the government for help, but then suggest the government would be better suited to handling those “services.” Heard of the Federal Reserve? Yeah, they’re doing a great job. And the government didn’t change the way these banks do business, the government didn’t make illegal what used to be, the government simply handed them billions of dollars (our dollars) and said “have fun!”

        • Almandine

          March 31, 2011 at 9:25 am

          A free market is made up of “the people” engaged in commerce… responsible to each other… or as businessmen they don’t last long.

          Such a muddled belief in the them vs us mentality about those who provide goods and service to those who purchase them. Gotta have that bogey man to blame…

          Of course, what’s interesting about only property owners getting to vote is that the redistribution of wealth unto those without squat only starts with universal voting rights and then really accelerates when the proportion of the population receiving more wealth than it produces is larger than those with property. Won’t they be surprised (soon) when there is no more property to steal from the owners and it all comes tumbling down. Eh Humpty?

          • griff

            March 31, 2011 at 7:19 pm

            Nice.

  2. Almandine

    March 30, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    How about Wednesday?

    • griff

      March 30, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      How about this is a prime example of the free market delivering a better, more efficient product than government bureaucracy?

      • Almandine

        March 30, 2011 at 9:46 pm

        No question… but getting [fully] there is the issue.

        • griff

          March 30, 2011 at 9:51 pm

          Too big to fail? Government-owned and operated. You betcha.

          • Almandine

            March 30, 2011 at 10:25 pm

            Nope… to big to layoff all at once.

            • griff

              March 30, 2011 at 10:38 pm

              Hahaha. Baby steps…UPS?

              I haven’t mailed any thing in years.

              Bad business model. Poor anticipation. E-mail?

              • Almandine

                March 30, 2011 at 11:02 pm

                Baby steps… sure. Postage rate increases for individuals tell it all.

                Notice how all that junk mail CRAP still gets sent for 11 cents or some such BS?

                • Jon

                  March 30, 2011 at 11:49 pm

                  I suspect you can blame that on regulatory capture. Those who complain the most about postal rate increases are those “free markets” who depend upon the postal service.

                  • Almandine

                    March 31, 2011 at 12:13 am

                    Regulatory capture is the antithesis of free markets.

                    • Jon

                      March 31, 2011 at 3:08 am

                      And there’s your problem. Completely deregulated “free” markets devolve into monopolies. And aren’t free anymore.

                      Regulated markets get the regulators captured. And aren’t “free” anymore.

                      This is why I laugh whenever anyone uses the phrase “free market”. No free market ever existed, and if it did, it’d instantly fall to one or the other of the above, or some interim half-baked compromise. And isn’t “free” anymore.

                      J.

                    • Almandine

                      March 31, 2011 at 9:11 am

                      Only govt has the power to create monopolies… to force you to buy a product… as any private attempt to coerce exchange will, at some point, be overtaken by the “better mousetrap”.

                      The interim half-baked compromise (your term) is the essence of free markets, i.e., participants exchange what they have, when they have it, for whatever exchange rate they mutually deem profitable, substituting – both buying and selling – as necessary with some secondary product if the preferred product is unavailable for whatever reason. The difference is they “choose” such commerce, without force.

                      The problem is, our markets have been disrupted by govt for so long that most can’t see the forest for the trees, regarding what is, what isn’t, and what should be the best market strategy to satisfy the legitimate wants of those acting in the marketplace.

                      In essence, it’s a philosophical issue at this point, as the govt has grown large enough, strong enough, and militant enough to snuff out whatever competitors it deems a threat.

  3. Jon

    March 30, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Wednesday would be fine with me too. But the important point to carry away from all this is that cutting to make a profit isn’t going to work. You need to raise your income.

    The same thing, of course, applies to taxation (which you could argue the postal service is – They’ve certainly taken a little piece of my land for their own). The Laffer curve is nonsense, and trickle-down doesn’t.

    I like paying taxes. It’s the fee I pay for living in a civilization.

    J.

  4. Almandine

    March 31, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Paid-for govt is not the mark of civilization… civilized folks are. Don’t get confused.

    USPS is a corporation… and would live or die under market conditions, were it not a GSE.

  5. Jon

    March 31, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Paid-for is inevitable. You don’t get government for free. And the more you pay, the better one you’re likely to get.

    J.

    • Almandine

      March 31, 2011 at 12:30 am

      You’ve gotten used to govt-on-the-large. Look the term up anywhere, anytime, and you’ll not find “paid-for” as part of the definition. That’s why there are “volunteer” fire departments, citizen patrols, support groups, food banks. you name it… but those are made up of “citizens” not subjects. Overlords are not required.

      • Jon

        March 31, 2011 at 3:17 am

        That they have the ability and the resources to volunteer means they already have a secure source of food and shelter. And they’re not getting that without a government.

        It was often common, among “volunteer” fire departments in early New York City, that they’d appear with water and ringing bells, then demand extortionate ‘expenses’ from whoever’s building was burning, and fight against any other company that showed up because then they’d have to share the payday.

        No. Your volunteers are already reaping the benefits of a paid-for government. As they too would acknowledge, if you bothered to carefully ask them.

        Finally, ask if these ‘volunteer’ groups have a leader. They’ll have one, and that one issues orders, which are to be obeyed even if it winds up that one of the volunteers gets dead. Overlords are required.

        J.

        • Almandine

          March 31, 2011 at 9:14 am

          What has become clear is that you feel most happy and secure under a “benevolent” totalitarian state. Enjoy.

  6. Al S.

    April 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    As for the Federal Reserve Bank, ” The Federal Reserve System is an independent central bank. Although the President of the United States appoints the chairman of the Fed, and this appointment is approved by the United States Senate, the decisions of the Fed do not have to be ratified by the President, or anyone else in the executive branch of the United States government. Buried in the legislation was the granting of total power over the monetary policies of all US banks.” From :

    http://news.goldseek.com/GoldSeek/1095269452.php

    Now, as a retired Postmaster, let me say a few things.
    How much is a billion? Was it a billion seconds ago that Christ lived? Was it a billion days ago that a meteor made a lot of life extinct on this planet? Was it a billion years ago that something that would one day be human crawled out of the primordial ooze? Well, in the USPS, a billion letters ago was the day before yesterday.

    What happens to a letter? It is picked up at your house by a mailman, who has (as of this winter) trodden through 14 inches of snow to deliver your mail. Let’s follow a letter, OK? It then is sent to a large facility which “air-culls” out everything over an ounce, because that stuff has to be checked for postage, and possibly handled differently than other letters.
    We are now up to Step 3, pickup, shipment, and culling.
    Step 4: The 1 ounce letters are sent through at least a Mark 2 facer/canceller, which faces all the mail into 5 stackers ( at the rate of 35,000 letters per hour) , depending on where the stamp is and whether or not there even is a stamp on the letter, and cancels the stamp, if any.
    Step 5: The letter goes through an Optical Character Reader and a bar code is sprayed on it. If the computer at the OCR can’t read the address (and yes, it can read most cursive handwriting) , the info goes to the floor computer. If that one can’t read it, it goes to the facility computer. If even that one can’t read it, the image goes to a Remote Encoding Facility, where actual people read it (if possible) and key in a ZIP code, the OCR retrieves the letter, and puts the bar code on it. Some letters MUST be handled by a human, regardless. Let’s say the address is

    Joe Blow
    15 Canyon Road
    Havasu Canyon, AZ

    in the Havasupai Indian Reservation, which is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, so it goes by mule train down the canyon walls, after being airlifted to the nearest airport possible. The letter has been through at least 6 handlings so far, and possibly about 9.
    Oops, Joe Blow has moved to Adak, Alaska, so it is forwarded (at no cost to the sender) there, and the last leg is by dog sled. That was Step 7.
    But Joe moved to Tupper Lake, NY so the letter is forwarded there (last leg of the trip is by boat). That’s Step 8.
    But Joe died of a heart attack while in upstate NY, so the letter is returned to the sender.
    A minimum of 9 Steps, and possibly 12 or more, and ALL FOR ONE FIRST CLASS RATE STAMP!!! At postage rates that are far lower than England, etc. which are much smaller countries.
    And some are whining about cutting out Saturday delivery?
    The USPS is a “quasi-autonomous” government agency, which gets ZERO subsidies from your taxes: and has not for many years- it is REQUIRED BY LAW to pay its own way.
    Still think UPS can do better?

    Al

    • Almandine

      April 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      Look Al, I appreciate the USPS. I DON’T want it to die. It is an underfunded entity. BUT – I’m tired of subsidizing all the pizza, storm window, car insurance, cruise ad, crap that arrives in my mailbox through the USPS.

      END IT. We’ll all be better for it.

      • Al S.

        April 2, 2011 at 12:21 am

        Hey Almandine,

        We all feel the same way, and we agree. However, all the mailers have to do is get one in a thousand to buy something, and they have justified their direct junk mailing. Says a lot about how they are ripping all of us off, doesn’t it?

        “Buy one, and we will send you a second one free!!!! Just pay separate shipping and handling.” Yeah, sure. Like the first one wasn’t paying for both of them, whatever THEY were, just with the “postage and handling”!!! BS? Sure.

        But something has to occupy the mailman’s time when First Class isn’t enough, or the unemployment rate would be even higher than it is.

        Al

  7. Al S.

    April 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    To Almandine:

    Barcoded, 150 pc. to same 5-digit area:
    — effective today, 4/1/11:
    It’s 23.7¢ per piece if you mail 150 peces, barcoded, to the same 5 digit area, according to:

    http://savepostage.com/bulkmail101/rates.html

    It goes up a penny on 4/17/11, to 24.7 cents per piece.
    Al

    • Almandine

      April 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      Funny how the stamps on the spam-snail-mail coming my way say 11 cents. They’re robbing you!

    • Almandine

      April 1, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      BTW – I’d give a bunch not to get your crap !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Al S.

    April 4, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Actually, Almandine,

    I was wrong, especially because I was relying on a non-USPS website. Machinable, barcoded, carrier routed, walk-sequenced Third Class (Standard Mail – what a misnomer!) is cheaper than either of us thought. See:

    http://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/Notice123.htm#wp1091745

    Again, however, a mail carrier has to have something to do in addition to First Class Mail, or he/she would be on the unemployment line, putting our nation is worse financial shape than it is.

    BTW, I spent 30 years in the USPS, starting when it was still the Post Office, and retired.

    Since the Post Office became the USPS, we NEVER got ONE PENNY of subsidy from the government – your taxes. So, in essence, the USPS is already privatized, and by law, every class of mail has to pay it’s own way, including junk mail.

    And I stand by my statement that FedEx and UPS couldn’t do what we do any better at the price we are charging. Ever see FedEx or UPS do the things I posted in my first post without charging more?

    My first post on this subject was NOT addressed to you, it was to everyone.

    As I said, my second post, which was to you, was wrong. And you won’t get my “crap” anymore. Sorry that you don’t want to hear from anyone who might know more about a subject than you do. It must be nice to be perfect. I damn well know that I’m not.

    Al

    • Almandine

      April 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      Now, now, Al… my crap statement was based on my thinking you sent junk mail, not just delivered it. Sorry for the over-the-top emotion. You,ll also notice it pre-dated my reply to your first post. Thus, mea culpa. No perfection here.