The Troubled U.S. Postal Service, And How We Communicate Now

With guest host John Donvan

Getting mail at the front door may soon be history – as Congress tries to save the Postal Service. We’ll look at the future of who delivers what and where and how in America.

In this Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 file photo, a man walks toward a post office in Grenora, N.D. (AP)

In this Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 file photo, a man walks toward a post office in Grenora, N.D. (AP)

It’s one of the happier sounds of city life. The clunk in the door and the thunk on the floor as your mail drops in through that front door mail slot. But door-to-door delivery may be going the way of the dodo with Congress talking about ending it to save money. Another plan being tried: office supply chain Staples becoming your substitute post office. Officially. There’s push back, and a question:  does snail mail make any sense? This hour On Point: the merry mailman. Menaced by modernity, and not enough money.

— John Donvan


Bernie Becker, staff reporter for The Hill.

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), U.S. Representative for Texas’ 27th Congressional District. Chairman of the Subcomittee on the Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census. (@farenthold)

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), U.S. Representative for Massachusetts’ 8th Congressional District. Member of the Subcomittee on the Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census. (@RepStephenLynch)

Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist, documentary filmmaker and author. Author of “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now,” “Program or Be Programmed,” “Life, Inc.,” “Get Back In the Box” and “Nothing Sacred,” among others. Adjunct professor at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. (@rushkoff)

Steven Petrow, journalist and expert on modern manners. Advice columnist for the Washington Post. Author of the forthcoming “Mind Your Digital Manners.” Also author of “The New Gay Wedding” and ‘The Lost Hamptons,” among others. (@StevenPetrow)

From The Reading List

The Hill: House panel clears postal measure — “The House Oversight Committee cleared a measure on Wednesday that would direct the U.S. Postal Service to move away from door-to-door delivery, a step supporters say would save the cash-strapped agency $2 billion a year. Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) cast the measure as an interim step on the way to a broader overhaul of USPS, which is stalled after more than three years worth of effort.”

The Wall Street Journal: New UPS Delivery Service Sends Packages Through the Post Office —  “A new service, called UPS Basic, is designed to steal some of the post office’s biggest customers, especially mail-order merchants that often avoided UPS because of its comparatively steep rates. UPS Basic, which has angered post-office officials and UPS’s own Teamsters union, exploits a postal discount program that was designed for very different purposes. Because of the discount, customers pay UPS less for its new service than if they went straight to the post office.”

Boston Globe: Postal union targets Staples over mail services program –“The announcement last year drew little notice: The long-troubled United States Postal Service was teaming up with equally distressed retailer Staples Inc. to offer mail services in 82 of its office supply stores. Initially pitched as a modest public-private partnership, the deal has blown up into a major confrontation between the Postal Service and its main union. The postal workers contend the Staples deal amounts to privatization of a basic government function, and they have run protests outside the company’s stores.”

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