Friday, December 9, 2011

The Post Office is killing itself

I will freely admit I do not know what the solution is to the Post Office's financial problems.  But I suspect decreasing service is not it.  The general reaction from industries facing full or partial extinction is to accelerate their own demise. 

If the Post Office delays delivery, customers will find alternatives.  Timely delivery isn't that important for the holiday cards and the few letters I write.  But it is of utmost importance for companies like Netflix and weekly magazine purveyors.  It is also important for people who send their bill payments via snail mail.  The calculation of when to mail a bill payment for timely delivery just became more complicated.  Once people have found an alternative, they are not going to return to the Post Office. 

I don't receive much personal mail.  I get the majority of my bills via e-mail.  And I resent the companies that do not offer me that option.  I order books frequently from Amazon and some of those arrive via postal delivery, but many are delivered by FedEx or UPS.  And now that I have purchased a Kindle, I will be buying fewer physical books.  I am part of the problem.

Newspapers are following the same path.  They decry the loss of readership, but offer less and less to those of us still subscribing.  The newspaper I get now, in a major metropolitan area, is thinner on several days a week than the newspaper I grew up with.  A small time newspaper.

Nor does it help the newspaper's plight that it refers people to the internet for more information.  Once a person gets into the habit of going to the internet for their news, their affinity for print news lessens. 

Formerly successful industries are fated to be destroyed by our rapidly changing technology.  Records are replaced by MP3 except by collectors and purists.  Pay phones have all but disappeared, the need replaced by ever cheaper cell phones.  Land lines themselves are becoming rarer.  Personal checks are being supplanted by debit cards and on-line banking. 

I don't know the solution, if there is one.  I know I would not return to sending and receiving my bill payments through the mail.  Nor would I give up my cell phone to save the pay phone industry.

Technology advances, cultures change, and industries become obsolete.  When was the last time you needed coal delivered to stoke your furnace?

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