Every day, millions of people enjoy the simple luxury of a blue and grey-clad letter carrier showing up at their house and dropping the day's mail on their doorstep. But if some Republican lawmakers get their way, this luxury may be short-lived.
Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, is currently championing a plan that would require all Americans to move their mailbox from the doorstep to a community-wide cluster of mailboxes in a central location. The savings for the flat-broke Postal Service would be significant. Whereas doorstep delivery costs $353 per stop, delivering to cluster boxes costs just $160. All things told, this so-called "centralized delivery" system would save $4.5 billion a year, significantly more than the $3 billion ending Saturday deliveries would have saved.
Sounds like a foolproof plan, huh? A vocal group naysayers certainly don't think so. Much like ending Saturday delivery would've disenfranchised certain postal customers, this idea to end door-to-door delivery bears negative consequences aplenty. Critics say that adding a commute to the mailbox creates an unneeded challenge for the elderly and the disabled. They also say it will inconvenience everyone on the route. The backlash was enough to defeat a similar proposal last year, so it's not to be ignored now.
However, the plan does work. This exact setup has been in place for businesses in industrial parks and larger office buildings for a while now, and local postmasters are already pushing the approach onto some fast-growing communities. And frankly, it has to work, because there aren't really any reasonable alternatives. We could return to the plan of cutting delivery on Saturdays, if not several other days of the week. Or the Postal Service could continue to pursue its wearable electronics business, though that doesn't seem like a big moneymaker. Or you might just have to walk ten steps instead of two to get your mail everyday.
Who knows? It might even help America fight its ballooning obesity problem. [CNN Money]