We have lived in a world of vast quantities of postal mail, delivered faithfully every day by dedicated postal workers. The vast majority of postal mail today though is either ‘junk mail’, or ‘bills’.

Most people don’t want junk mail. They don’t really want the bills either, and rapidly increasing numbers are getting, checking and paying bills online instead.

How vast? In 2007, some 212 BILLION pieces of mail were delivered by the U.S. Postal Service (source).  But in 2009, that number is projected to be ‘just’ 175 billion, down some 14% (source).  While much of the downturn is due to the bad economy, much can also be attributed to a world of new infinite communication, including e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, and so much more.  With so much communication, postal mail is much less important than it once was.

We also have the rise of spectacular competitors UPS and FedEx, which have put huge pressure on postal services worldwide.  The U.S. Postal Service is in a ‘no win’ situation, mandated to not make a profit, and berated when it loses money, which it is always likely to do in tough economic times.  Moreover, large and increasing retiree benefit expenses are also causing huge problems.

The cost of delivering postal mail is enormous, quoted as 69 billion U.S. dollars for the U.S. Postal Service in 2006, but getting more recent numbers has proven difficult.

So what to do?  Well how about changing the Postal Service delivery to 3 days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday perhaps.  Pay for mail delivery workers would be cut accordingly, although no doubt the negotiations with unions would be very difficult.

Some say it’s self-destructive to cut back service.  That if mail delivery service is reduced, it will encourage even more people to find alternatives, such as online, UPS, and FedEx.  So what?  Wouldn’t that be a good thing?  Especially for environmentalists, so concerned about ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions and not cutting down trees?

What do you think?