Thursday, July 19, 2012
Ever since a national post office started in the time of Benjamin Franklin, there have been two assumptions about it. It's a business. It's an essential service even if it loses money. Now the clashing views are coming to a head with the post office facing default by the beginning of next month. Unlike Franklin's time, there is less need for a national postal service, and that is the problem facing the institution. First class mail has plunged. The postal service now is a captive of junk mailers and news publishers, and even some of them are leaving. Republicans in Congress want the post office to run like a business. That would require large layoffs, closing of scores of facilities and a pullback from rural delivery. Small towns and congressmen who represent them want service to continue even at a loss. Someone has to give in eventually or the post office will become a skeleton. But, then, that is what some might be wishing for.