Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Slower Mail Delivery Nothing New

Syndicated columnist James Bovard writes in the Los Angeles Times and other papers around the country, "When people bought 'forever" stamps', they didn't realize that the name referred to the delivery time, not stamp prices."

In an op-ed piece U.S. Mail: Slow and Slower, Bovard claims the Postal Service has been intentionally slowing down first-class mail for almost 50 years.

He writes, "The U.S. Postal Service announced plans this month to phase out overnight delivery of first-class mail. Postal officials are portraying the decision as a painful but necessary budget-induced departure from a long history of exemplary service. In reality, the Postal Service has been intentionally slowing down first-class mail for almost 50 years. It's time to end the post office's monopoly on letter delivery."

Bovard points out, "In 1960, the post office's annual report announced 'the ultimate objective of next-day delivery of first-class mail anywhere in the United States.' But official standards for overnight delivery were lowered later that decade, trimming the target zone from statewide to areas conveniently covered by mail-sorting centers. At a high-level meeting in 1969, postal management decided 'to no longer strive for overnight mail delivery and to keep this a secret from Congress and the public,' the Washington Post reported in 1974. Management also considered cutting costs by educating Americans not to expect prompt service, according to the Post."

He goes on to say, "Back in 1764, colonial Postmaster General Benjamin Franklin — yes, that Benjamin Franklin — proclaimed a goal of two-day mail delivery between New York and Philadelphia. In 1989, the Postal Service's goal was two-day delivery from New York City to next-door Westchester County, N.Y. Under the new standards, the target for overnight first-class delivery was reduced from a 100-to-150-mile radius to often less than 50 miles. The Postal Service estimated that the changes could add 10% to the average delivery time for first-class mail, which was already 22% slower than it had been in 1969."

To read the entire column, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM