Until 1950, the U.S. Postal Service delivered mail twice a day in many areas. Dinner invitations could be posted in the morning, and replies would be received in the afternoon post. Businesses relied on the quick delivery of mail.
Today, the Internet delivers e-mail millions of times a day. For many computer users, it sometimes seems like most of those messages show up in their inboxes.
Electronic delivery, along with services offered by companies like FedEx and UPS, have helped to decrease revenue at the USPS, which expects to have a $7 billion deficit this year.
Among the cost-cutting options being considered are the closing of some branch facilities in urban areas and even dropping delivery on Saturdays. Postal customers are familiar with the frequent postage rate increases.
USPS officials have heard the concerns of customers and elected officials who, for a variety of reasons, want six-day delivery at reasonable rates. These customers also assume the USPS is considering every possible operating efficiency to reduce costs.
Some bureaucrats have already written off the mail system, saying it's outdated and cost-prohibitive. Further deterioration in service, however, could have serious consequences for many communities that would be harmed by a reduction -- or even elimination -- of service.