In 1775, Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster. 1847 brought us the first postage stamp; Then, a five-cent stamp with Ben Franklin and George Washington on the ten-cent. The year of 1963 brought us zip codes to organize delivery. Forward to 2006, the last time that the Post Office turned a profit… $900 million.
That is some of the history of the Post Office. It’s relevant to consider because the day may be coming when the Post Office itself is nothing but history. It seems more real, now that the post office appears to be closing on Saturdays soon.
Esquire.com brings us history and makes us consider what might be the future in its article “Do We Really Want to Live Without the Post Office?” Now that the Postmaster has determined that he doesn’t need Congress’ permission to close the Post Office on Saturdays, he announced that the post office will begin a 5-day-delivery in August. Soon we will no longer be checking our mailboxes on the weekends. (Bloomberg) No more movies arriving. No more coffee from Gevalia.
On one hand, that means less junk mail on weekends. On the other, that means that bill paying may run the risk of late fees. Plus, is this really the beginning of the end for the Post Office? Will it be like telling future generations that you could once walk right up to the airport gate and watch relatives walk off the plane; or that people once did not sit at restaurant tables and dream of being somewhere else… wherever that happens to be where they are constantly texting. Printed mail in a box: nothing but a memory?
In mid-November, the Postmaster reported that the Post Office had lost 15.9 billion dollars for the year and that mail was down 5% from the previous year. At the same time, all of us could rejoice that the Post Office, with its 461 distribution centers, was the reason that we could send a letter from New York to the woods of Alaska for 50 cents; instead of paying UPS fifty dollars to get it there.
In a time that Washington is looking for budget cuts, there is no easier place to look than the Post Office. It will have some legal impact because sometimes service or notice or a copy of a lawsuit can be sent through the mail. A cheaper way of doing private business.
The author of Ben Franklin’s biography, Walter Isaacson, was quoted as saying that after researching Franklin’s desire for a post office he said, “I find his passion for the postal service inspiring”. Based on the past and the present, the post office was considered a way of encouraging contact and community. Is it now something that is solely viewed as a monetary consideration? Or, should it be viewed as more that cannot be replaced by computers, tablets, phones and the Internet?
Yep, Pic 0′ day is a reminder that maybe everyone would miss the post office.