WHAT OTHERS SAY: Postal Service must make changes

Monday, August 1, 2011 | 3:31 p.m. CDT

It’s time to rethink the mission and meaning of the U.S. Postal Service. The old model is breaking, if not broken.

Its losses are heavy. Last year, it reported an $8.5 billion loss. Without permission to change the way it does business, it is looking at similar losses in the coming year.

While changes are necessary, it’s a difficult admission. The Postal Service has been around a little longer than the Constitution, and it has been a large part of how we’ve defined ourselves.

For centuries, America communicated, did business and socialized through mail delivery. To say the Postal Service is no longer needed is clearly wrong. In 2010, it delivered 170 billion pieces of mail.

But, in recent years, it has been forced to cut more than 100,000 employees and $12 billion from its budget. Now, in an age in which email has redefined the post as snail mail, more updating is needed.

Sadly, to ensure the health of an institution, it’s time for Americans to wave goodbye to Saturday delivery. Thousands of underused post offices will and must be closed.

The Postal Service should consider more savings by expanding programs that put postal services in grocery and discount stores. Post offices themselves should be allowed the freedom to maximize earnings from their space.

Certainly, Congress should remove restrictions that have the service overpaying into its pension plan. It may even be time to explore privatization options, though any service would have to continue to serve all 150 million addresses now served.

To keep up with the rapidly changing society, the U.S. Postal Service must change with it.

Copyright by the Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.

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