Monday, 24 January 2011

The End of An Empire

There's a good article at the Wall Street Journal today over the approaching closure of 2,000 post offices across the nation.

The postal service is admitting that they've run all the numbers and they just can't keep the things at the level of today.  Which post offices are they talking about?  The list isn't out yet, but the general feeling is that when they start the closure process in March (less than 60 days away)'s mostly all rural offices that we are talking about.

I grew up as a kid in a rural county in Bama.  I lived on a farm that was between two offices (roughly 3 and 4 miles in opposite directions).  I look back and realize now that the post office generally made each little town (of maybe 300 residents) a real town.  The post office might only have four employees but that was a major status symbol to have a post office in a rural community.

My guess is when the smoke clears...where I grew up....the nearest real post office will be eight to twelve miles away.  There's talk in the article of authorizing stores to operate with limited postal services....kinda what Germany does today.  You get a open window to mail items for a three hours in the morning, and maybe three hours toward the end of the day.  Your delivery will likely come from some central county office with some guy named Gus who has no connection to the community and might even live another county over.

It is a decline of an empire in a way.  You had to expect this because of the costs involved running a simple 5-man post office today.  Toss in the fact that most folks get important mail via their e-mail system. Then you toss in the strength of UPS and FEDEX.  It's an unsustainable system.