The case for saving the USPS
The postal service in America is 237 years old and remains the second largest civilian employer in America, but its existence continues to be questioned as e-mail and electronic billing continues to threaten the need for physical delivery of print materials. Some argue that commerce continues to find success with direct mailers, but others argue it is damaging to the environment to kill trees to print and use gas to carry that print across the nation in bulk.
What no one expected was for a Senator to defend the USPS by making elderly Americans look like Steve Martin from The Jerk when he gets his phone book. But that is exactly what Senator Harry Reid did this week when he said, “Elderly Americans rely on the United States Postal Service… I’ll come home to my home here in Washington and there will be some mail there. A lot of it is what some people refer to as junk mail. But for the people that are sending that mail, it’s very important. And, talking about seniors — seniors love to get junk mail. It’s sometimes their only way of communicating or feeling they’re part of the real world.”
Really? Pizza coupons solve elderly peoples’ loneliness and that is worth preserving a government service that loses $3 billion per quarter?
The case against the USPS
Besides reduction of mail because of the digital era, many claim it has an adverse environmental impact on our nation and is a financial drain. One solution being used by cities is to push for the elimination of junk mail.
The City of Austin this week announced a new plan that would allow its residents to opt out of any or all junk mail, using a service called “Catalog Choice” which is also offered to residents of Cambridge (MA), Chicago, Santa Fe, Berkeley, Seattle, and San Jose.
“The first step to recycling is to reduce what we have,” said Bob Gerdert, Austin Resource Recovery director. “It will also reduce the cost the city pays to recycle this waste.”
Gerdert tells KXAN-TV that the money saved by this initiative could someday result in cost savings to Austin residents. “When it comes time to look at possible increases for solid waste services we may not have to increase it for residents because we have this cost savings.”