Do we really need the U.S. Postal Service?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 4, 2001

If someone suggested that America reactivate the long defunct Pony Express, most folks would laugh at the notion. Who on earth would think horse-powered mail delivery is a valid system any more? Few, we hope. But for some reason, the same normally sane people still don’t mind dropping enormous amounts of money in a government system that is rapidly becoming obsolete – the United States Postal Service.

On Tuesday, the Postal Service announced it would begin studying a plan to eliminate mail delivery on Saturdays. As difficult as it will be for some folks to swallow the reduction of service, especially in the wake of the recent stamp price increases, it’s probably a good idea.

However, we think they should take it a step further and consider a question: Does America still need a government-funded postal system?

We’re not certain America does. Especially when that system is in direct competition with public companies which get no financial support from the government.

Decades ago, before the Internet existed and before other delivery options and companies existed, the U.S. Postal Service was a fabulous thing. It connected America coast-to-coast and all parts in between.

And it did so in a great, highly effective way. Now with a struggling economy, it’s difficult to stick with the status quo when the Postal Service is reportedly expecting a $2 billion to $3 billion loss this fiscal year. Sure, phasing out the U.S. Postal System would seem strange, but the post office just down the street wouldn’t go away, just the funding behind it may change.

We by no means know the intricacies of the massive Postal Service budget and don’t purport to have all of the answers. However, we do think someone should be raising the issue of whether it’s smart to continue to throw money at an outdated mode of delivery.