A Simple Way To Save The U.S. Postal Service
The Post Office is really in dire straits. Recently, there was an announcement that over 100,000 postal workers were going to be laid off because of a significant budget short fall. In addition, to cut costs, the U.S. Postal Service will make big changes by closing as many as 3,700 small post offices. I find this a bit depressing because the Post Office has been the backbone of the American communication infrastructure for over 200 years. A couple of interesting facts about the post office:
The United States Post Office (USPO) was created in Philadelphia under Benjamin Franklin on Wednesday, July 26, 1775, by decree of the Second Continental Congress.
The United States Postal Service employs some 574,000 workers, making it the second-largest civilian employer in the United States (excluding the federal government), following only Wal-Mart.
Its decline is also a indicator of a greater problem. Economists believe that declining mail volume is a symptom of the weak national economy, particularly related to the financial and housing industries, and to trends toward the use of electronic mail. First-Class mail volume (which is protected by legal monopoly) has declined 29% from 1998 to 2008, due to the increasing use of email and the World Wide Web for correspondence and business transactions. Lower volume means lower revenues to support the fixed commitment to deliver to every address once a day, six days a week.
In response, the USPS has increased productivity each year from 2000 to 2007, through greater automation, route re-optimization, and facility consolidation. Despite these efforts, the organization saw an $8.5 billion budget shortfall in 2010 which is now going to drive significant downsizing.
So the question I pose is: How do we protect this valuable institution which has served the citizens of the United States for so long? Right now, the Postal Service is prohibited from competing with companies like UPS or Fedex. In fact, to cut costs, it has been forced to use Fedex as an express delivery service. So they really cannot grow their market.
I do not think we need to look at drastic measures or a Congressional Bail out. We do not need to look at significant deregulation or hiring expensive consultants. I have a simple answer to problem which will not only address the $8.5 billion shortfall but also produce over $500,000,000 in additional revenue.
So what is the answer to this great problem? How do we protect over 500,000 jobs in this down economy? To answer that question, you need only look to your own mailboxes.
6 years ago, I found myself diligently registering myself with all of the junk mail no-fly lists I could find. I hate receiving credit card offers, book club offers and particularly mail asking if you want to purchase limited edition collectors cups. I finally gave up. The volume was too great…my options for stopping them too ineffective….my shredder was worn out.
Then…it occurred to me. I can use these offers to save the post office. I started sealing postage paid envelopes and sending them back empty. Imagine my joy in finding a means of addressing two problems with one simple action. Capital One can now be punished for offering me another credit card I do not want and the post office receives the needed volume.
With several years of doing this under my belt, I can now report that if we all do this, we can save the Post Office.
Here is how the math works. Every month, I send an average of 24 postage paid envelopes. Postage paid envelopes generates $.20 of revenue to the post office per ounce. So my action generates an additional $4.80 per month in revenue for the post office. That’s $57.60 per year. With over 157,000,000 households in the United States, that should generate $9,043,200,000 of additional revenue for the Postal Service.
Check my math…
$.20 (per envelope) x 24 (envelopes per month) x 12 (Months per Year) x 157,000,000 (households) = $9,043,200,000
This could change everything for our beleaguered Postal Service. If you really want to have an impact, you can also paste the envelope on a package with a brick inside. A 6 pound brick can generate $19.20 in revenue for the post office. Now if every household in America did that, it would generate over $3 billion in additional revenue. There are plenty of websites that can explain how to send a brick using postage paid envelopes.
There you have it. We can now all contribute to American History, culture and preserve jobs by using to tools junk mailers have provided us.
Or….we could all stop sending emails to each other. :)