American Morning

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September 6th, 2011
05:27 AM ET

Talk Back: Is the Postal Service obsolete?

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From CNN's Carol Costello:

The U.S. Postal Service, historically a dependable service for Americans, is in trouble.

Facing a $9 billion dollar deficit, the Postal Service says that it does not have the money to meet an obligation to a $5.5 billion dollar retiree health care trust fund coming due at the end of the month and is in danger of defaulting.

The Postal Service also faces competition from Fed-Ex, UPS and digital technology. The Post office delivered 171 billion pieces of mail in 2010, down twenty percent from 2006.

Talk Back: Is the Postal Service obsolete?

Let us know what you think. Your response may be read on this morning's broadcast.

Filed under: AM Talk Back
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. RB-Philly

    The letter from Boehner and Cantor to Obama is the height of hypocrisy. Cantor was the guy who walked out on debt ceiling talks so early he couldn't even have known if there'd be areas of agreement. Boehner agreed on things but then walked out after he couldn't get what we wanted. So for them to tell Obama to do things they agree upon is just hypocrisy. Call them out. Ask them about it.

    September 8, 2011 at 6:28 am |
  2. Bruce Smith

    Many of the problems the Post Office is experiencing come from its Board of Governors, not people with personal interest in public service. For example, I am reminded that they decided a couple of decades ago to forego any involvement in "electronic mail." Later they decided to give Fed EX a piece of the package business. Both were huge mistakes which restricted or eliminated much of the potential of the Postal "Service."
    Obviously some adjustments have to be made, but attacking the retirement fund is a declaration of war on all public service workers. Working for the Postal Service is an extremely stressful job, but people put up with it because of the decent pay, healthcare benefits and, especially, because of the retirement plan. Everyone should have such benefits, but big business has set its sights on pushing American workers back into 3rd world status and Postal Workers, teachers and nurses and their unions are three of the main obstacles to achieveing their objectives.

    September 6, 2011 at 8:07 am |
  3. Marguerite Payne

    Absolutely not and the expectation that the elderly, unemployed, rural communities and the poor should pay more for the service is not very practical when they are already struggling to survive. However, would it be feasible to increase the mailing cost for all of the sales catalogs, solicitations for money and marketing materials from politicians and financial companies as an example? Hopefully this might reduce the amount of this stuff we get that just winds up in recycling or landfills and might increase the amount of revenue the postal service receives.

    September 6, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  4. Lynn

    Postal service is more important then most would think...yes, this is the 21st century but what happens to those individual's that don't have computer's and depend on sending and receiving their bills, etc.I don't like the exposure
    of putting my personal information out there so the world can tape into, which we know they already do. But I
    like the control of my stuff. So many people would be hurt by this move, their lives turned upside down and standing
    in the long line of unemployment. That would be a sad day if this were to happen...just saying!

    September 6, 2011 at 7:57 am |
  5. Richard

    I am confused. I am sure that I have seen TV commmercials saying that NO Tax dollars are used for their operation and that alll costs are funded by postage fees. But now they are a "government entity" needing more money. How can you spend all of that money on TV advertisement and be that far in debt? Why do they have so many discount rates on "junk mail"? (75% of my mail is an advertisement ) Who is running this business? There are some major bad management decisions that are driiving the USPS into the ground. (Hiring practices, wage rates, pensions plans fees charged. etc)

    September 6, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  6. B Furlong

    The Post Office has always been there for the citizens. Why don't we get rid of Congress and keep the Post Office. Congress does not work "FOR THE PEOPLE" – Congress works for themselves – they do a rotten job but give themselves raises every year. We vote Congress in so why can't we vote on whether they get a raise. In the real world, if you do a rotten job you DO NOT get a raise and you might even get fired. What happened to FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE – not FOR CONGRESS Keep the PO and get rid of the crooks in Congress. PLEASE

    September 6, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  7. Dawna Robertson

    No–you're asking the wrong question. It should be: Are unfunded mandates from Congress obsolete? Should a government authority dictate terms of service without providing funds to help cover the costs derived from their added expenses? Should any institution, public or private, be allowed to borrow from pension funds to cover operating costs?

    September 6, 2011 at 7:39 am |
  8. Veronica Reed

    It was a republican congress that required the USPS to fund their retirement fund for the next 75 years. What other company in this country is required to do this. If USPS did not have to fund this retirement fund, they would be covering all their expenses. Remember the USPS does not use any tax dollars. And USPS costs much less than any other delivery service. Republicans want to privatize this service so they can make more money at our expense. And, just for the record, what will become of that retirement fund if this does happen?

    September 6, 2011 at 7:39 am |
  9. Carolyn Vannatta

    The Postal Service is to be an independent business. Everytime there has been a profit showing on Postal books, the Feds would take the profit and dump it into the General Fund. Then postage costs would have to be raised. If the Feds had wanted hands off, they should have kept their hands out of the pot! Now the Feds have created another mess that will cause hardships for people who spent their lives working for the Post Office and we are the losers.

    September 6, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  10. Monty Gaither

    It is not obsolete. There are too many small areas that are too small and too remote to get fed ex and/or ups. I would rather see a double in the cost of stamps than the US Postal service shutting down.

    They will have to adjust due to online paying and email. But they are still needed.

    September 6, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  11. Cathy White

    Contrary to some of the on-air comments, there are millions of Americans who can't afford computers, don't e-mail, or live all over this country in places without easy access to Internet service. The postal service may need reform, but it is still important to this country to have universal mail delivery.

    September 6, 2011 at 7:32 am |
  12. Jim H

    I have thought that daily delivery was outdated for 20 years. I think they should split routes and only deliver mail to a particular address no more than 3 times a week. That way the same people can be used for multiple routes and the staff reduced. My post office has NOTHING automated. So you have to stand in line and talk to a human. This seems like a waste. I could get most of what I need done on the weekend instead of being there 8-5 during the week or 8-12 on Saturday.

    September 6, 2011 at 7:31 am |
  13. Jay

    Morning ppl no the postal sevice is not obsolete in our area there are alot of elderly that do not know how to use modern technolgy and depend on the postal sevice to recieve the bill and other things most ppl here do not have the computer system to pay there bills on line or do not know how to use a online service we all live in a remote area and are very greatful to the postal service thank you for listening to me as i am just one of many that are worried about this problem

    September 6, 2011 at 7:31 am |
  14. Joy Thorne

    Unfortunetly, it is. High wages and benefits have brought the postal service to this.

    September 6, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  15. Dan

    My family enjoys sending and receiving "snail mail" with one exception. That is the pile of "junk" mail we have to sort through. The sad part is that this is mailed "bulk rate". If the USPS did away with bulk rates it would enable them to handle mail at 1st & 2nd class rates, cutting down on volume and increasing net proceeds.
    Stewartstown, PA

    September 6, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  16. Bruce Northwood

    The postal service provides is a government agency that provides a vital service used by everyone un the country. Why does it have to show a profit? Does the Defence Dept. make a profit? How about agriculture, HHS, HEW, Social Security or any other government agency?

    September 6, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  17. john doe

    Sounds like it, nor RAIN, SLEET, SNOW, or ANTHRAX, but UNION'S!!! CRAP!!! Vote TEA!!!

    September 6, 2011 at 7:03 am |
  18. Mary RM

    The U.S. postal service is not obsolete. There are millions of Americans who rely on the service; not everyone has smart phones or even email, especially older Americans. Having said that, to keep itself relevant it must update to 21st century needs and efficiencies. Including the pensions. The U.S. can look to other first world countries who have already had to face these problems, for ideas. In Canada, the Ontario Teachers' Federation is facing a shortfall. The Federation and government agreed to a 3 part plan to address the projected $17.2 billion funding shortfall and includes:
    A 1.1% contribution rate increase, phased in over the next three years, Slightly smaller annual cost-of-living increases for teachers who retired after 2009, Recognizing the current contribution rate as the permanent base rate
    It doesn't have to be all or nothing, me or them. Remember win-win-win.

    September 6, 2011 at 6:49 am |
    • Steve Washington State

      I completely agree, the mandate and rules the postal service has to operate under is unlike any other private company would have to endure. Then again I am sure you at CNN would like to have your pensions fully funded regardless of the profitability of the particular quarter of the business cycle your corporation is going through. So atleast if the postal service ended today those counting on pensions will recieve their due part. Think of Enron,GM and other massive corporations that have not fullfilled their obligation to their employees.

      September 6, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  19. john williams

    A reliable postal service will always be needed.Though we live in a electronic,techno age,there is still millions of people and many places not serviced by the "Net".A postal service can be run profitably.You don't have to look far for a template.Canada operates a reliable and efficient postal service,which also enjoys large profit margins,while still being of reasonable cost to the consumer.Granted,the national health care system takes a great burden off of the retirees health care fund,but didn't America have a chance to do something about that ?When will it become clear that the greater good of the many out weighs the greater greed , oh-I meant good-of the few.Perhaps it"s not to late.

    September 6, 2011 at 6:41 am |
  20. sophia autrey

    In its current form, the USPS is definitely obsolete. Delivery services should be scaled back to regional routes during week days only. At home delivery should not be automatically expected but require an additional fee that covers gas/delivery charges. P.O. Boxes should become the standard delivery method for very trecherous and rural areas. Finally, USPS should take advantage of electronic mail delivery in which mail delivered electronically through USPS is encrypted and validated as "original" for legal purposes.

    September 6, 2011 at 6:36 am |