Cumberland Times-News

March 2, 2013

A long trip


Cumberland Times-News

— Although it will have no immediate effect, the U.S. Postal Service’s decision to send our local mail to Baltimore for processing eventually may cost up to 31 jobs at the Cumberland Post Office.

It’s not likely that the move came as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.

The Postal Service loses about $25 million a day — almost $16 billion last year.

As part of an ongoing attempt to halt the bleeding, it has announced an end to Saturday mail delivery (although post offices will remain open that day).

It wants to eliminate 150,000 jobs by 2015, and about 25,000 postal clerks took $15,000 buyouts as part of early retirement packages in January.

There also are plans to consolidate more than 200 mail processing plants in the next two years. One of them is ours, and it is planned to have all mail and package handling machinery gone from here by May 2014.

None of this will be helpful. Regardless of what business is involved, cutting back on a service or product while continuously increasing the cost to the consumer is no way to boost consumer confidence or give the consumer a reason to continue buying that service or product. This is particularly true when the competition is constantly improving its service or product.

At one time, local mail was sorted at local post offices and prepared for local delivery. Now, our local mail will have to go to Baltimore before it returns here for delivery — an arrangement that will be costly and makes very little sense.

The saga of the Postal Service’s financial problems is of long standing, and we should not blame the Postal Service’s employees for it.

Where does the fault lie? Part of it falls into the lap of Congress, which several years ago passed legislation that requires the Postal Service to pay $5.5 billion a year in order to cover retiree health costs for the next 75 years.

This means it is paying into a fund that will cover employees who haven’t even been born yet — let alone hired. However, this amounts to a little less than one-third of the Postal Services’s annual shortfall, so there are other factors.

It’s frequently suggested that Congress address the problem.

Considering the lack of success Congress has in addressing other problems, this is a waste of perfectly good breath.