news.goldseek.com / By Richard Benson / January 21, 2013
When I went to the post office the other day it felt like a ghost town. There was only one person behind the desk and the place seemed darker than usual. Because I was the only customer in line I breezed right through, but it made me think of the old days when we were all forced to wait in long lines to mail a package or buy stamps. You had time to chat with your neighbors in line while watching clerks who had taken classes in moving slowly and had made it an art form. It’s definitely time to start getting nostalgic about the vanishing post office.
As a kid growing up in the 1950’s, I remember when first class letters were $.03 cents and a postcard was a penny. My parents also got me a postal savings account. Back then, you could buy some candy or mail a letter for a few cents, but nickel candybars are up to $2.00 now,and by the end of this month first class stamps will cost $.46 cents, and a postcard will set you back $.33 cents.
Even with postal rates regularly ratcheting up,the USPS is bust and losing over $5 billion a quarter. The postal service is not only behind by $11 billion in paying into their pension fund, but they have maxed out their $15 billion credit line with the US Treasury. In what is likely a futile effort to stave off the inevitable, the USPS is on track to close 3,700 small post offices and to shrink the work force of 574,000 by at least 220,000 by 2015. In using Europe as a guide, even a massively scaled down postal service would need to charge $1.00 to cover the real cost of delivering a letter.
With the advent of email, smart phones and the cloud, every tech-savvy consumer in America, including me, has felt this coming we just didn’t realize the impact it would have as letter by letter we leave “snail mail” behind. All of my utilities and routine monthly payments are now set up ACH for direct debit from the bank. My credit cards are paid over the internet three times a month, and all financial statements can be downloaded from the internet. For business, I used to use Priority Mail or Federal Express to send contracts to clients. Now, with MS Word, Adobe PDF, scanner and computer at my disposal, a business contract can be easily emailed, printed, signed, scanned, and a countersigned copy emailed back in a matter of minutes, with the executed legal agreement filed away in multiple secure data files in the cloud. All this is being done for a whole lot less than $.46 cents and the delivery is in minutes, not days. Who needs or wants snail mail for business letters anymore?