The Post Office didn’t die, it was murdered:
Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night will keep your postman from delivering that Mad Men DVD you’ve been waiting for. But legacy labor costs and the disruptive force of the Internet? Yeah, that’ll do it.
Today, the Postal Service announced roughly $3 billion in service cuts that will slow down the delivery of first-class mail for the first time in 40 years. Starting in April, it plans to shutter more than half of its 461 mail processing centers, stretching out the time it will take to ship everything from Netflix DVDs to magazines. One-day delivery of stamped envelopes will all but certainly become a thing of the past.
The announcement is just the latest sign of a sad and increasingly dire fact: the Postal Service is in shambles. This past fiscal year, it lost a mere $5.1 billion. In 2012, it’s facing a record $14.1 billion shortfall and possible bankruptcy. In order to turn a profit, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says the agency needs to cut $20 billion from its annual budget by 2015. That’s almost a third of its yearly costs.
How did it come to this? The culprits include the Internet, labor expenses, and, as with pretty much every problem our country faces now, Congress.
This was a planned homicide:
At the very end of that year, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA). Under PAEA, USPS was forced to “prefund its future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years in an astonishing ten-year time span” — meaning that it had to put aside billions of dollars to pay for the health benefits of employees it hasn’t even hired yet, something “that no other government or private corporation is required to do.”
So when rural Americans start screaming because the mail isn’t coming, they can go blame their “fiscally conservative” Congresscritter.