To the Editor:
When Donald Trump lambasted Amazon for supposedly abusing the U.S. Postal Service by using it as a cut-rate delivery service and thereby depriving it of much-needed revenue, he added to The Washington Post’s ever-growing list of his “pants on fire” utterances. Amazon, it turns out, is one of the USPS’s biggest customers and pays fairly for the service. That Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos also happens to own The Post, one of Trump’s most persistent critics, is more likely to explain the Trumpian broadside.
Putting this dust-up aside, I got to thinking about the Postal Service and its troubles. It is in the red for lots more reasons than Amazon. We don’t write letters much anymore or send greeting cards for starters. Email and emojis and cell phones and online bill paying have taken over our communication needs. Amazon has taken up the slack to some degree, but I think there are some fundamental structural problems in the USPS business model that need to be looked at and greatly modified.
For example, the annual cost of a box rental at your post office versus the free delivery and pickup, “through rain and snow and dark of night” to your box at the end of your driveway. The price of a box rental seems to creep ever upward, but your only cost for that driveway fixture is an occasional replacement after loss by snowplow or mailbox baseball.
In a 2014 count, there were some 41 million mailboxes. Maybe there are 44 million today. So perhaps it would make sense it charge for the convenience of home delivery? Say $1 per week? $52 times 45 million? Do the math.
Rural Free Delivery made a great deal of sense when America was a rural nation. It isn’t anymore, but RFD persists unexamined and, as far as I know, unchallenged. What’s more, the Postal Service really can’t afford it, this remnant of a bygone age. Don’t even get me started on public school years still ruled by planting and harvesting rituals of an agrarian society of long ago.