USPS faces shutdown

Guy Burstein

(September 30, 2011) — Since 1775, when the postal service was founded by Benjamin Franklin, the ability to send mail anywhere in the country has been something that most Americans take for granted. This winter, however, for the first time since its founding, the United States Postal Service, more commonly known as USPS, may shut down completely. For some students, the possible shutdown could be a dramatic change. “I write letters to my grandma, so the postal service shutting down would devastate me,” said junior Sarah Magee. “It’s a really important service.” The downfall of USPS is related to the high costs of delivering mail to every household in America. Although the government agency maintains a monopoly on the mail industry, its mandate to deliver mail to everywhere in America means that it must sometimes hire airplanes to deliver mail to extremely isolated areas. Costs such as these, along with billions of dollars in employee benefits, mean that this situation has been developing for years. One cause for the fall of USPS is that email and text messaging has, for most people, taken the place of traditional “snail mail.” According to the Media Daily News, more emails are now sent every day than USPS sends mail in an entire year. This lack of use continues to accelerate the service’s fall. “[The shut-down] doesn’t really matter since email took over,” said freshman Aleksandr Savchenkov. According to the Associated Press, the USPS has been losing over $8.5 billion every year, forcing it to try to curb the increasing use with methods such as raising stamp prices. Even with this, however, the organization is set to lose more money this year. Since early September, it has been appealing to Congress with the hopes of getting approval to change the way it does business. Even if the Postal Service does manages to avoid bankruptcy, the Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has proposed drastic changes to the way to postal service works. As many as 120,000 postal workers risk losing their jobs and 3,700 post offices face being shut down.