Daniel Indiviglio, writing on The Atlantic‘s business blog, looks at the Postal Service’s gloomy FY09 financial results and declares 5-day mail delivery a “reasonable idea.” Then he looks a little further ahead — and predicts 5-day could eventually give way to even less frequent delivery:
Bottom line: it seems that technology will increasingly take the place of postal service in the years to come. This time around, Saturday service may be eliminated. But give it a few more years, and we might see Monday-Wednesday-Friday service. One day, USPS may be eliminated entirely.
Indiviglio casts that as a positive — the Postal Service responding to the changing way Americans use mail (and, increasingly, don’t use mail).
Interestingly, though, I often hear the same argument presented by union leaders and many postal employees as a criticism of 5-day. They view the end of Saturday delivery as a stalking horse for 4-day, 3-day, etc. And they see it as a negative, both because of its impact on postal workers and because they see it as selling off the agency’s competitive advantage. If the Postal Service doesn’t deliver on Saturdays, they argue, how does it differentiate itself from UPS or FedEx? (The mailbox monopoly, for one…)