Now that you are usually at home, with less to do, is getting the mail a big deal?

Did it used to be a bit of a bother? Personally, now, I look forward to opening the mailbox lid and peering in.

Granted, as one of my neighbors, Pete pointed out – over a month ago – there is less mail.

In fact, he’s quite right; there is one-third less mail. There are fewer advertising flyers which works for me since I always crunch them together and quickly toss them. I do try to make certain I am not throwing bills or other vital mail out with the flyers.

Oops! Apparently, it is the revenue from those nuisance flyers that helps our Postal Service survive financially. Since this COVID-19 quarantine began in mid-March, many businesses no longer need to run specials or offer coupons. They are closed. Those businesses can’t offer anything.

Obviously, the Postal Service will suffer the same plight that print newspapers are enduring.

If the United States Postal Service was in good shape financially, it might be able to survive a temporary financial loss generated by the lockdown. After the quarantine, businesses would likely return to purchasing the USPS’s sales-flyer delivery services.

Unfortunately, the Postal Service is on the brink of bankruptcy that is not of its own making. The Postal Service is expected to operate like a private business, but without the ability to make decisions and to implement changes. Note: USPS is not taxpayer funded!

According to a May 2 article in “The New Yorker” by Casey Cep, “By 1982, the Postal Service was operating entirely without federal money, and for a quarter of a century the new arrangement worked. But, in 2006, Republicans in a lame-duck session of Congress passed a law preventing the Postal Service from raising its rates for regular mail service by more than the Consumer Price Index. This change meant that, no matter the spike in fuel prices for the agency’s vehicles, leases for its cargo flights, health insurance for its workers, or any other operating expense, the agency could not charge more than a few additional cents for its services every year. That’s why your stamps still cost only fifty-five cents, and package-shipping rates are so much less than private alternatives. The regulatory change was seen as a gift to the Postal Service’s competitors, who spend tens of millions of dollars lobbying Congress, and who take advantage of the cheaper rates by contracting some of their own deliveries back to the U.S.P.S.”

Cep, whose mother was a lifelong mail carrier, explained, “That same law also mandated that the Postal Service pre-fund its employee-pension and retirement costs, including health care, not just for one year but for the next seventy-five years—an even more crippling requirement. The year that mandate passed, the U.S.P.S. had nine hundred million dollars in profits. It has not had a profitable year since. The annual cost of those pre-funded retirement benefits is more than five billion dollars, and critics of the mandate point out that the Postal Service is the only employer forced to fund retirement accounts for employees who haven’t yet been hired – or even born. Finally, after thirteen years of trying to repeal that mandate, Democrats got halfway there this February, when the House of Representatives voted to do so, but the bill has stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.” – “The New Yorker,” May 2.

We’re all familiar with the unofficial Postal Service creed:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

“While the Postal Service has no official motto, the popular belief that it does is a tribute to America’s postal workers. The words above, thought to be the motto, are chiseled in gray granite over the entrance to the New York City Post Office on 8th Avenue.” -Postal History site:

Although that is not an official motto for USPS, Postal employees do appear to function by that creed. Granted, I hear folks complain about how inept the Postal Service and its employees are. The complaints appear – to me – to have the same validity as the complaints about public school teachers. Say, how much grousing about teachers have you heard in this home-schooling era?

The Postal Service is devoted to delivering the mail to its addressed destination, and in a timely fashion, at that. The couple of times that I thought the Postal Service fouled up, actually, were my own fault.

While I am impressed by the USPS’s delivery record, I do not see how the Postal System can pre-fund retirement for employees who have not only not been hired yet, but who have yet to be born. The concept is ludicrous! It appears designed to drive the USPS into bankruptcy. Who benefits from the death of our postal system?

Certainly, we the people who still rely on the USPS would be worse off.

Country dwellers who are patrons of the USPS will likely find that rural living is more expensive in terms of purchasing some sort of delivery service if the Postal Service becomes history. In fact, some regions might be so remote that no private delivery enterprise will be willing to travel to the area. Actually, not serving those far out regions only makes sense. Instead of making money, those out-of-the-way runs would cost the delivery company.

The Courier-Tribune of Seneca, Kansas, in an effort to evaluate USPS’s worth, featured an article, in its April 23 edition. The newspaper staff interviewed several senior citizens who rely on USPS for mail and package deliveries.

The Tribune reported, “If Jack Bainbridge couldn’t get his prescriptions through the mail, the 70-year-old Army veteran would have to make a 90-mile round trip to the VA Medical Center in Kansas City.

“Instead, the retired union laborer who lives outside of Odessa, Mo., can walk outside his door, cross the road to his mailbox and be sure that the mail carrier he’s known for years will have already dropped off his blood thinners and other medication.”

Another veteran told his story to The Courier-Tribune.

“Bob Ritzinger, an 81-year-old Navy Veteran, who lives in Higginsville, Missouri, receives prescriptions from the VA through mail for COPD, high blood pressure, hearing loss and back problems.”

Janet Ritzingler, his wife, succinctly summarized her worries regarding the potential loss of the USPS’s deliveries.

She explained that the couple, “...picks up (their prescriptions) from a box at their local post office.

“‘I can’t imagine us not having a post office here. It just scares the daylights out of me,’ she said. ‘We don’t have to go to the city to get them (the prescriptions). It’s (the USPS) such a value to a small community.’” -The Courier-Tribune.

In fact, the Postal System appears to be integral to the survival of a percentage of our population.

For those of us who do not rely on our postal carrier for life-saving medications, it is easy to think of the Postal System as a relic. Oh sure, it has a history of helping our nation’s economy flourish, but now we’re in the high tech era. We are inclined to feel that we no longer need Benjamin Franklin’s ingenious communication system – the Postal Service.

In reality, it would be wise for us to research and attempt to foresee the various consequences that killing off the USPS might produce.

Bill Prady, a T.V. sitcom writer and creator of the show “The Big Bang Theory,” was outspoken in his support for the Postal Service.

“Most of us are just sort of trapped in our houses, but this was a really simple thing,” Bill Prady explained.

Prady’s solution:

“The post office is short on money, and there’s an amazingly easy way to get money to the post office: buy stamps. If you take all the adults in America, and if all of them bought $10 worth of postage, you’re in the billions.”

Indeed. My first response was, “...that’s a nice gesture, but small, too small.” However, it might actually help the USPS weather this lockdown. Apparently, there is a variety to choose from including stamps honoring: First Responders, the National Park Service; Mr. Rodgers Forever; biluminious life stamps; and more.

Actually, I am not familiar with the stamp selections. We always purchase rolls of 100 Freedom Stamp. Amazingly, we always seemed to use all one-hundred. In fact, we just recently replaced our 100-stamp roll, which, no doubt, we will use.

How essential do you think the Postal Service is?

By any chance, do you need to buy some stamps?

Pat Nevada, whose opinions are her own, lives near Gettysburg.