The government is playing post office these days, and it isn't even close to the parlor game we may have played as kids and not nearly as enjoyable.
This post office game is all about deep cuts, post office closings, pensions, retirees' health care and many other things, including no Saturday mail delivery. How could they? Could it be that the mighty arm of the U.S. government called the United States Postal Service is actually going broke like everything else? There is actually a proposal to cut some 220,000 jobs, and 3,700 post offices are targeted for closings. I wonder if this is all necessary.
Back in 1860, the Pony Express was founded with a motto that was quite simple - "The mail must go through." It was a 1,966-mile trek between St. Joseph, Mo., into California. That trek included fighting Indians, bandits and most every other kind of varmint that existed. That was a time when it took months for our ships to cross the ocean and 25 days of travel per 1,000 miles.
As a veteran, how much I appreciated mail call and something special from someone special. In wartime, as our GIs open each package and letter - how great a feeling is that?
There are costs for approximately 36,000 postal outlets, 215,000 vehicles and 600 processing facilities within our country. Countries abroad are changing their ways by shifting away from government-run postal services into privatizing the service. Our USPS also has many benefits and privileges, including being exempt from vehicle licensing, sales taxes and property taxes, and they don't have to pay parking tickets. Those are just a few of the perks.
Going back much farther than the pony express, on Oct. 30, 1801, mail was first delivered to Warren. The early settlers were given clear notice when their mail carrier was on his way. His name was Sam Gilson, and he traveled on horseback and would blow a horn when he was about a half mile out of town. His mail was not very heavy, either, as it was wrapped in a handkerchief. Pittsburgh was the nearest post office back then.
Some facts from the Cato Institute state that first-class mail volume has fallen 19 percent since 2001 and is projected to fall another 37 percent by 2020. From 2006 to 2009, total mail volume dropped from 213 billion to 177 billion items, which is a 17-percent decrease.
Our postal service is a branch of the federal government. It is headed by a Postmaster General and a Board of Governors. The present Postmaster General is Patrick Donahoe. The USPS is supposed to be structured like a business. The organization is the second-largest employer in our country with 600,000 workers. Sad to say, our postal system is in deep financial decline as a result of declining volume and high operating expenses, a supposedly costly work force and, of course, constant congressional meddling. Could Fedex and UPS be waiting like vultures for the demise of the USPS? You bet.
Down through the years, it has always been nice at Christmastime to receive packages and cards from family and friends as the mail carriers go through sleet, rain, snow and ice and unruly dogs barking at their heels, not to mention those hot balmy days in the summer. We have to respect our mail carriers and their plight. The mail must go through, and hopefully the huge mess in our postal system will be resolved. Maybe Saturdays still will be mail days, the government will stop playing post office, and our postal service will receive the revenues it needs to continue.