Do We Need A Post Office???

Posted: June 19, 2011 in Current Events, Media Gleanings, Personal Whining

I know that some of this is a repeat of recent comments, but I think it bears repeating.  I had a few discussions over the past week about the actual need for a post office.   Are there any services that require the existence and the service of a Post Office?

I look at my own mail and see mainly three types.  First there are the dreaded bills.  In every case, receiving a mailed bill is a result of my not yet getting around to arranging payment accounts on the Internet or automatic deduction.  With the latter, I get statements, but I could just as easily go on line to check the account.  The bills and statements that I get via post are totally unnecessary.

I also get DVDs from Zip.ca.  This is because I live in an area where there is no cable TV or high speed Internet.  The nearest Video store is about a 15 minute drive away and I don’t like late fees.  If I had Netflix operating, I probably wouldn’t need Zip, and I’m sure that most people who don’t live in my secluded situation have options that I don’t even know about.  Shipping DVDs by mail is already obsolete for most and will be for all in the near future.  (I notice that the Blockbuster chain is closing their doors.)

Finally, there are my magazines.  Yes, I am a big magazine fan and have been for most of my adult life.  What I’ve learned about things like computers and photography have come largely from magazines, and I prefer Macleans to reading a newspaper.  So there are a handful of magazines that come to my mailbox each week.  Truthfully, though, I’d rather eliminate the paper part of the whole thing and get my magazines electronically.  Macleans already has an app which brings you each addition.  It’s still a little expensive compared to a discounted subscription, but I’m sure that will change.  One problem is that colour is a big part of magazine presentation (especially the photography ones) so a b&w screen won’t do the trick.  My Kobo, -excellent for reading books-, does not serve the purpose for magazines, meaning that either I have to read them on my computer screen (which is not convenient) or I have to invest in an i-pad or something with a colour screen.  (Colour e-ink readers are, it seems, a long ways off.)

I can’t think of any other items for which a postal service would be needed.  Parcels are shipped by UPS or Fed-ex.  Charitable donations can be done via e-mail.  Letters are largely an anachronism.

Oh yes, there’s junk mail.  I haven’t been able to find any Canadian stats, but in the U.S. over 50% of mail volume is junk mail, direct mailings, etc.  I’m sure that the stats are similar in Canada.  It was said that the Post Office would not be solvent without the revenue from this junk mail.  With spam filters and other ways to avoid junk on the Internet, the mail is really the only way these advertisers can put their stuff in your face, short of delivering it door to door.  Direct mail is probably what is suffering to cause charities to claim that their donations are down.  It’s not an inability to send in donations; it’s the lack of direct mail appeals.

So, it seems, our Post Office is destined to become a vehicle for delivering junk mail.  All of the other services have been replace by other means, or will be shortly.  Does the government really want to operate and subsidize an Post Office that has as it’s primary function (already, it seems) the delivery of junk mail??

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