A Game of Dominos
I’ve never been a believer in the Domino Theory, which is why I wasn’t initially bothered by the recent USPS announcement that Saturday delivery will cease later this year. If I were, I’d fear that delivery-less Saturdays would further diminish the USPS’s viability and relevance, and start a chain of events that would lead inexorably to the service’s demise.
Clearly, the USPS must take steps to relieve uncertainty and ensure long-term financial viability of printing’s primary distribution channel, and $2 billion per year in savings seems like a good step in the right direction.
After further consideration, however, I’m not so sure, not to mention a little puzzled.
The USPS will not be shutting down post offices on Saturday. Few savings there. Sure, perhaps the staffing levels will decrease, but the savings and the impact will be marginal. Nor will your local mail man be logging fewer weekend miles. After all, those packages from online retail purchases, along with vital medications, must be delivered.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift fulfillment of the clearance section of Overstock. So few savings there, either.
Come August, when the first Domino falls, your mail man will be by; he just won’t be delivering mail. It seems like a feeble incremental cost savings, not much of a dent in the $20 billion annual shortfall. Whether there will be a second Domino, and a third, is a good question. I wish I knew the answer.
And why is this happening? Is this a desperate plea for Congress’ attention to ACTUALLY address the problem?
One thing I DO know is that these kinds of mincing, little marginal changes (like cutting-Saturday-services-but-not-really) are an absurd—and insufficient—response to the disaster that could bring down printing’s mission-critical delivery mechanism.