I’m going to dive into one of the national fights that is now consuming us, over the fate of the U.S. Postal Service.
But I am not doing so to talk about elections. Not going to address voting, mail-in voting, absentee voting. Not today, anyway, not with a 10-foot pole. Maybe another week; not today. So, if you were planning to write me on how crazy or wacko I’ve become because I want to save the Postal Service, hold off.
My concern is more prosaic and, frankly, mercenary. The destruction of the U.S. Postal Service, occurring now before our eyes, borders on criminal. The Postal Service, its establishment, was enshrined in the Constitution. It helped, over more than two centuries, to knit the nation together. It sent newspapers to readers, it sent bills all over the nation, it sent letters between sweethearts, it shipped orders from Sears, Roebuck.
And now, it is under siege. Unfortunately, its fate has become tied up in the national election which, like so many other things these days, is fraught.
I would like to suggest that we are tinkering with fire in not properly funding and allowing the Postal Service to operate. The Postal Service does a number of salutory things: It delivers hundreds of thousands of prescriptions every week, including tens of thousands to our veterans. It delivers, yes, ballots for our elections. It is a vital piece of businesses and commerce all over the nation, delivering invoices to clients and payments back to businesses, including ours. And it delivers newspapers, including the Courier and PCNR, among many others. And Social Security checks, for those not on direct deposit. Tax notices and bills. Important government mail. The list goes on and on.
So, this near destruction of the Postal Service, under the guise of protecting the vote from the supposed “evil” of mail-in voting, is crazy. The Postal Service ought to operate at peak efficiency, I agree. A key part of which, it seems to me, is actually delivering the mail. Here’s the conundrum of the Postal Service: Every single employee I talk with — including the two carriers on our route at Stone Street, headquarters of the vast media conspiracy — is competent, dedicated and thoughtful. They seem to be helpful and genuine in wanting to solve any issues. But there’s no question that as a system, it’s a mess.
I have written before that I think Amazon has led to breaking the Postal Service. I continue to believe that. But I think it’s ridiculous to now accelerate the decline of a great American institution, almost in a fit of pique.
I asked last week for readers to write in if they had experiences along these lines with the Post Office. Note, I am already fairly familiar with postal issues, as subscribers will call to say they haven’t gotten their paper (believe me, every single Courier and PCNR, every single one, goes out to the mails at the same time every week. Within 5 or 10 minutes, give or take. Every single mail copy.) And, Michele Hanna of Cold Spring wrote in with these thoughts, which I believe are representative:
-Inconsistent delivery… there are days that the mail arrives by 9am, others that it doesn’t come until 6:30pm or it could arrive at any time in between. It seems that some postal workers are only delivering packages now. It is not uncommon to see 3-4 mail trucks going up and down the street, none delivering “real mail”.
-On more then one occasion, (the last being this past Wednesday), outgoing mail gets left by the carriers, even though it was placed in the box well before they arrived and the flag was up. Again, this has happened several times.
-Multiple times a week we will get neighbors’ mail in our box. One day we had 7 pieces of mail in the box but only one was actually ours. We spend time giving them to the correct people but worry that some of our mail was mistakenly delivered and we never got it back. Just today, we received a letter for someone in Croton (this is the second time we have gotten mail for someone in Croton). We know of once instance where we placed a bill payment in our box, had it picked up but the company never received the payment. We realized things get lost in the mail sometimes but that in addition to everything else makes it frustrating.
-We are a household of 5 people and typically get a few pieces of mail every day. There are times where we won’t get anything for days, then we will have an overflowing mailbox. We have received mail a month after it was postmarked and it has only come from a short distance away.
Forty years, never an issue. Now, it’s constant, Ms. Hanna told me.
The Postal Service is a service. It’s important. It’s part of what ties our great and broad nation together. We need more of that, not less. I agree it should be efficient. But destroying it is not efficiency. It’s just destruction.
I answered the phone Saturday at our media conspiracy HQ. The woman on the other end asked, is this a recording or a real person? A real person, I said. This is Doug, one of the owners. We had a lovely chat. I was happy to take the renewal. By the way, for those of you who insist that somehow print media like newspapers are dying, stop. Our renewal rates are extremely high, and we are picking up NEW subscriptions at both of our newspapers. Every single week. Simply, here it is: If you want to be an informed citizen in Putnam County, you must subscribe to the Courier or PCNR. If you don’t care so much about being an informed citizen, so be it. Call us, 845-265-2468, to subscribe. Yes, I’m in the office most weekends. I’ll answer personally. I’ll try to get the ‘recorded voice’ correct.
Until next week.
Douglas Cunningham is editor of the Courier and the Putnam County News and Recorder, in Cold Spring. Reach him at email@example.com, or 845-265-2468.
Below, a mailbox in Cold Spring on Sunday. Elsewhere in the country, dozens of mailboxes have been removed from a number of cities, ostensibly as part of an effort to adjust to changes in mail volume. But what if it’s part of an effort to kill effective mail service? The Postal Service is also taking some 502 mail sorting machines out of service, according to Vice.com, some 15 percent of total capacity. Photo/Douglas Cunningham