Keep the mail coming

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By The Staff

Do you have a mailbox? If so, there's a proposal before Congress right now that could affect you.

Postmaster General John E. Potter has asked Congress to lift a federal mandate requiring six-day mail delivery. Apparently, the United States Postal Service is facing a loss this year of as much as $6 billion.

And this is their attempt to save money.

According to the National Newspaper Association, Potter told a Senate subcommittee that, "It could become necessary to temporarily reduce mail delivery to only five days a week. We would do this by suspending delivery on the lightest volume days."

According to Potter's statement, domestic mail decreased by 4.5 percent in 2008, which translated into a $2.8 billion loss. In response, Potter froze executive salaries, reduced personnel, created new services to increase mail volume and consolidated or closed several mail facilities and processing plants.

But National Newspaper Association President John Stevenson says cutting back on delivery "would accelerate the Postal Service's present downward spiral."

Stevenson said reducing delivery days would force some newspapers to stop using the mail for their delivery and cause advertising mailers to seek other avenues to get their messages out.

That, in turn, could cause customers to change their reading habits, which would mean they'd rely even less upon the mail.

We count on our mail, in "rain, snow, sleet and dark of night" and such a change would affect all of us.

Along with birthday cards, letters and magazines, most of us receive bills in our mailboxes each month. Many are due within 10 days. If a bill is mailed on a Thursday, on weeks when there's a Monday holiday in addition to a "lightest volume day," there's a possibility we wouldn't receive it until nearly a week later. There's no way to meet the due date then.

Yes, in this economic recession we all now recognize, it's important to cut corners and save money.

Postal revenue is dropping because we aren't using the Postal Service like we used to, thanks to the Internet. If we want mail service to continue in the way we've become accustomed to, perhaps we should all make a concerted effort to support the USPS in return - by taking the time to mail a letter rather than sending an e-mail or paying bills by mail rather than online.

Let's hope the USPS chooses the savings route that will have least affect on the majority.