WHAT OTHERS SAY: Ending Saturday mail service is the right thing to do

Thursday, February 7, 2013 | 10:44 a.m. CST

Letter carriers made sure Kansas City residents got their mail quite frequently in 1905, making up to six deliveries a day to residences and businesses.

But by 1950, multiple deliveries of mail to U.S. residences had ended. And in recent years — with the advent of FedEx, email and online banking — times have changed dramatically for the U.S. Postal Service. First-class mail volume is way down, and the agency is losing billions of dollars a year.

On Wednesday, postal officials announced plans to halt Saturday deliveries by August.

We reluctantly accept the move, partly because it should protect the agency’s ability to continue delivering mail on a Monday-through-Friday basis.

Some members of Congress understandably decried the decision, and in bipartisan fashion. Republican U.S. Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri said “reducing core services is not a long-term plan.” Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri called the decision “an unnecessary loss” for businesses and rural families. Some D.C. politicians said ending Saturday service couldn’t happen legally without their blessing. So if the Postal Service is bluffing — and trying to get Congress to act on a long-delayed financial reform bill for the agency — Wednesday’s move might do the trick.

However, Congress helped create the Postal Service’s predicament years ago by requiring a multibillion-dollar health care payment program for employees. Counting on an often-dysfunctional House and Senate to “save” the Postal Service — which receives no taxpayer funding for its day-to-day operations — is a dubious proposition.

The end of Saturday service is hardly unprecedented. Canada has been without it for more than four decades; other Western nations don’t have it as well. One public opinion poll showed 70 percent of Americans favored halting Saturday service as part of a budget-cutting plan.

Such a move will affect a range of services, including the timely deliveries of rented videos and Hallmark’s greeting cards. Mail still will be delivered Saturday to post office boxes, and packages will be dropped off at homes, too. Americans will acclimate to change, such as putting a bill payment or birthday card in the mail a day or two earlier.

Americans need the U.S. Postal Service to survive, and it must save money in efficient ways. Unless Congress steps in with responsible reforms to fund the agency, ending Saturday service is the necessary move.

Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.

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