OUR VIEW: Slow down, wait for all ideas on USPS woesU.S. Sen. Tim Johnson and Rep. Kristi Noem were among those calling on the United States Postal Service to hold off on its plans to close a number of distribution centers across America.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson and Rep. Kristi Noem were among those calling on the United States Postal Service to hold off on its plans to close a number of distribution centers across America.
Johnson, a Democrat, and the Republican Noem both told The Daily Republic that they want all closure plans put on hold as a way for the USPS to better consider how to tackle its famously woeful financial situation.
On Tuesday, they got their wish when the Postal Service voluntarily opted to wait five months before making any moves.
How bad is it for the USPS? The agency lost more than $5 billion last year alone.
In response, the USPS has spent the last year unveiling ideas — translation: closures — that it hopes will someday return the service to the black. Last summer, the USPS announced the potential closure of numerous small-town post offices, including dozens in South Dakota. More recently, it has announced plans to consolidate larger facilities, which could mean the closure of processing centers like the one in Huron.
Such a move will create slower mail service. Next-day delivery would be a thing of the past, much like the USPS’s oft-repeated slogan: “Through rain, sleet and snow.”
The rank and file employees at the USPS do not deserve our wrath. Lost revenue is the biggest culprit, and most everyone can share the blame for that. We use the Internet for all things today, ranging from paying bills to sending friendly salutations.
But alas, the Internet can’t deliver prescription drugs to our homes, which is a service many older residents in rural South Dakota desperately need.
“The Postal Service plays a critical role in our state’s economy and our way of life, and I don’t want the USPS to make potentially painful and permanent changes before we finish our work on postal reform,” Johnson said.
We do find it ironic that an agency that has been assailed for years for its slowness — its universal nickname is “snail mail” — aspires to improve its business model by further slowing its service.
There must be a better way.
We also note that Tuesday, the day this editorial was written, The Daily Republic received in the mail 17 glossy brochures from the Postal Service, giving us advice on various methods to purchase stamps. Again for effect: 17 brochures to one address.
Johnson was among 20 senators calling for the Postal Service to delay closing processing centers. Noem gave her backing, too, calling for the USPS to “first look internally for inefficiencies and ways to cut costs before they cut back on services, especially to rural America.”
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., did not lend his support to the moratorium proposal. We wish he would have. Likewise, we wonder if he has ever seen firsthand the rampant waste of dollars that we see today, in the form of a stack of unneeded brochures on our desk. It doesn’t take a titan of business to understand that this kind of waste must be eliminated before service is downgraded. The USPS is in dire financial straits. Nobody can
disagree with that. Like Thune, we also realize difficult decisions must be made. Yet we prefer to wait to see if better ideas arise before making rash decisions today. Noem and Johnson were right.