Political Animal


February 06, 2013 9:43 AM RIP Saturday Postal Delivery

By Ed Kilgore

It’s been expected for eons, but still: today’s news that the U.S. Postal Service will eliminate Saturday service for first-class mail on August 1 was mildly shocking in a sign-of-the-times kinda way. I’m just old enough to dimly recall twice-a-day weekday postal delivery (mostly phased out in the 1950s and early 1960s where it existed at all). But with the high percentage of snail mail these days that is composed of unsolicited junk, Saturday delivery won’t be missed as it once surely would have been.

But for certain lovelorn folk, maybe any day without delivery will be painful:

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Daniel Buck on February 06, 2013 9:51 AM:

    I also recall twice a day weekday delivery, but in those days, there was more than enough mail to justify the service. Saturday delivery has been an absurd extravagance for many years. Dan

  • c u n d gulag on February 06, 2013 10:17 AM:

    I grew-up in NYC, and we had mail delivered twice a day until sometime around the mid to late 6o's.

    And back then, we got actual mail. You know - letters, postcards, bills, and magazines, like the deceased Life and Look. Not like now, where the junk-mail far outnumbers "regular" mail.

    Maybe, we just should have eliminated junk-mail delivery on Saturdays, to see if that saved any cost?

    Probably not.
    But I think people would have been gratefull to know that, on top of no mail on Sundays, they'd have been spared junk-mail on Saturdays.

  • schtick on February 06, 2013 10:49 AM:

    My grandpa was the postman in a rural area for those twice a day deliveries. I loved to go with him when I was there. A lot of those trips were on dirt roads and if you met a car coming the other way, one of you had to back up to get to a spot to make room for the other car to go by. Of course, now those roads are paved and much, much wider. Sweet memories of childhood for me.

    Knowing that they have stopped the Saturday deliveries tells me the teapubs have won round one and USPS is closer to being eliminated. That's sad. The one part of government that actually did the job it was supposed to without tax dollars and the teapubs are killing it.

    The teapubs keep saying the government doesn't work and the teapubs want to make sure it doesn't.

  • c u n d gulag on February 06, 2013 10:52 AM:

    Oh yeah, and this was brought to you by the same gang of sociopathic idiots, as were the two unnecessary wars and occupations, the tax cuts on the rich, the hand-out to Big Pharma, the loss of Habeas Corpus, and the W-Depression/Recession - the George W. Bush Mis-adminstration!

    Yes. Remember, in the mid-00's, the USPS was targeted for the bathtub bathing and drowning, by making the organization pay ALL of their pension funds in advance (one wonders how much the House and Senate members would have liked it, if they were included in this moronic idea).
    This caused massive lay-offs, and delays of mail service, allowing Conservatives and Republicans to scream about how inefficient government was, and how mail delivery needed to be privatized.

    We need President Obama to make this an issue, and start to rebuild what was once the worlds most efficient and cheap ways of delivering mail to everyone in the country - whether they lived in a city, or deep, deep, in the country.

    If we don't make him do it, we may be paying $20 in postage to deliver the $50 credit card payment to the bank.*

    And yeah, I'm aware that many bills can be paid online. And some on the phone - though, I'm reading about more and more companies charging for phone payments, since, heaven-forfend, they have to pay a human salary and benefits to process that payment.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on February 06, 2013 11:00 AM:

    I second gulag on getting rid of junk-mail delivery on Saturdays (and all other days). But humbug if businesses don't start wah-wahhing about their need to "reach out" to new customers to stimulate the economy. Their business is probably propping up the USPS anyways. But I swear if I get another piece of mail from Nissan Headquarters...

    Well, at least with the downturn, I haven't been getting tens of pre-approved credit card offers, though I have noticed a recent uptick...

    No Saturday deliveries. Well, my immediate action is "Aww, hell!... But then I think about how little (legitimate) mail I receive anyways. But, I do get a few things in the mail that I actually need: my Commuter train ticket, my one magazine subscription, my IFBB correspondence, and that's about it... It was nice to look forward to getting something on a Saturday though...

    FWIW, I've tried to be loyal to USPS. If I need something in a hurry and I have the choice, I like to use their express services. They tend to be cheaper and just as fast as the private carriers. Just my itty bitty experience.

  • rk21 on February 06, 2013 11:06 AM:

    I have not recd an actual letter from anyone for the last 15 yrs at least. Yet I am in contact with friends from 30 yrs ago (who I found just 3 yrs back thanks to FB). With social media, e-mails, easy phone access, the paper mail system has no meaning. I don't think the younger generation is even aware that the postman/woman ever delivered anything other than fliers, junk mail and bills. A lot of billing is also online. Honestly if the mail got reduced to twice a week it would not make a difference to me. By the way that Beetles song would be meaningless as well.

  • seriously on February 06, 2013 11:09 AM:

    C'mon, Ed, someone with your musical knowledge (remembering the Honeycombs impressed me, I didn't think anyone else did!) should post the Marvelettes' spirited original "Please Mr. Postman," not the Beatles' acceptable, but unremarkable cover.

    And don't get me started on people who think highly of the Beatles' "Twist and Shout," a pallid imitation of the Isely Brothers' incredible, always-on-the-verge-of-being-out-of-control (in Rock 'n Roll, that's a good thing) version.

  • rk21 on February 06, 2013 11:11 AM:

    I meant to say that the Beetles song would be meaningless to the younger generation today.

  • Randy on February 06, 2013 1:44 PM:

    They're still going to deliver packages on Saturdays, which is really the only justification for Saturday delivery.

  • justsomeguy05 on February 06, 2013 2:08 PM:

    I think the existing mail routes should be split into two. Half become M/W/F, the other half Tu/Th/Sa. Businesses (or individuals) could opt to pay a fee if they wish to receive mail all 6 days. This would reduce the number of carriers and the fuel/vehicle costs.

    Of course I also think that a high percentage of postal districts in this country could be using electric or hybrid vehicles for carriers, charged by solar arrays and wind turbines at the depots. And solar panels on the roof of the jeep-like vehicles used in many areas.
    For the very short trips (50 feet to 50 yards) used during much of the routes, no gasoline would be needed.

  • navarro on February 06, 2013 2:28 PM:

    there are some aspects of this i haven't seen anyone mention above. first, will netflix containers be considered packages and if not, how will that effect their business model for non-streaming movies?

    second, this will wreak some enormous changes for the carriers in rural routes because of the enormous differences between the rural and city crafts in the postal service. from the way people start as relief carriers for a particular route to the basis of the ontract which has years left to run. it's hard to see how this doesn't damage the rural side of the business.

  • TomParmenter on February 06, 2013 5:49 PM:

    Another musical perspective on the problem of killing off casual personal mail: David Allan Coe's tribute to SWAK and the upside down stamp, "X's and O's (Kisses and Hugs".


    PS - I got a personal letter in the mail today, haters.

  • mfw13 on February 06, 2013 10:20 PM:

    How about if Congress actually appropriated some money to operate the USPS like it does for every other government agency.

    I'm pretty sure the Pentagon could spare some money....