The Fate of the Post Office

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US Postal Service employee Rick Cadwallader makes his mail deliveries in Spokane, Wash. on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
US Postal Service employee Rick Cadwallader makes his mail deliveries in Spokane, Wash. on Jan. 6, 2009. (AP)

The U.S. Postal Service is in trouble.
Ben Franklin got it started in 1775. It's kept on delivering in rain and sleet and war and peace for 234 years. Now, people are actually talking about shutting it down.
E-mail is undercutting the U.S. Mail. Cheap cell phones and Fed Ex and a thousand modern communications have cut into its turf. Our deep recession is clobbering its finances. It will lose $7 billion this year.
Do we still need it? Radical change is in the air for the U.S. Mail.
This hour, On Point: Weighing the future of the United States Postal Service — if it has one.
You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Joining us from Washington is Ed O'Keefe, a reporter for The Washington Post. He writes the Post's Federal Eye blog.

From Potomac, Maryland, we're joined by A. Lee Fritschler, a professor of public policy at George Mason University. He served as chairman of the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission under President Carter and as Assistant Secretary of Education under President Clinton. He recently co-authored a study on the development and future of universal postal service for the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission. He's the author of several books; he recently co-authored "Closed Minds: Politics and Ideology in American Universities."

And from New York we're joined by Richard John, a historian who teaches at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. He's the author of "Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse." He also contributed to last year's report for the Postal Regulatory Commission.

More links:
See an official list of US Post Offices that have been identified for study and which may be closed.
"It's Time to Stay the Courier" — New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera writes, "Do we even still need the government to deliver the mail anymore? To me, the answer is obvious: no."

This program aired on August 12, 2009.


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