Even after months of anticipation, the announcement last week by the U.S. Postal Service that it will close mail processing facilities in Akron and Canton came as a blow. The move, part of a nationwide restructuring, will shift the work to Cleveland, virtually eliminating next-day local delivery of stamped letters.
No doubt the Postal Service faces difficult circumstances, the volume of first-class mail declining by 25 percent since 2006, the competition from electronic forms of communication unrelenting. Still, the question hovers: Is it best for communities to see such cuts in service?
For many, the Postal Service remains a vital connection, especially in isolated areas. Worth remembering, too, are the tough decisions already made, closing post offices and reducing employees. The Postal Service has proposed an end to Saturday delivery. What about its ideas for re-examining the restrictions on its operations? The Postal Service cannot raise rates faster than inflation or get into other lines of business.
Government subsidies flow through other parts of the economy, the oil industry, for example, reaping $4 billion a year in tax relief. The prospect of a letter going from Akron to Cleveland and back (and similar routing around the country) should trigger a look at public money to bolster the Postal Service. That would reflect the need to preserve what is still a necessity for many and a convenience that helps keep citizens informed and commerce flowing.