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President's Ponderings: Post Office Closures Affects Rural America

By Edward Luttrell - President's Ponderings Blog (7/27/11)

  JULY 28, 2011 --

I checked the list of Oregon post offices that are being “studied” to determine if they should be closed. It wasn’t a bit surprising to see mostly small rural post offices on the list, as it seems the postal service isn’t that concerned with service anymore.

The current proposal to close 3,700 post offices out of about 32,000 locations will once again disproportionally affect rural America. Last year’s proposal to discontinue Saturday service and this proposal adheres to the mind-set of a bean counter. Less business in rural America and greater distances which equals greater expenses and that means we eliminate service there, while focusing on the urban areas where we make more money.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) brags that they reach every address in America- shouldn’t they be serving every American rather than appearing to want to focus only on the populated centers of the country?

I realize that the real issue is money. When the Congress made the USPS a quasi-governmental agency with the goal of being self-sufficient, they also handed them a huge debt from the employee retirement program. It would appear that Congress set the USPS up for failure and then the USPS management was forced to choose a path of reducing service rather than innovating. 

What will be the cost to continue service to these areas where the local post office is closed? What will be the cost to the citizens who need to drive to the next town to mail packages that are not standard flat rate size? Will there be a delay in mail delivery for affected rural citizens, especially when things like chicks (baby chickens not mail order brides) and critical medicine are involved? Will these factors and others actually be offset by the savings of closing these small offices? 

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the concept of the postal service in America and while he may not have imagined the size and scope of our nation today, I have a hunch he would not be impressed with the attitude of reducing service that the USPS is displaying toward rural America.

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