Image courtesy Flickr user TheFadedPast
Exactly 236 years ago yesterday, on July 26, 1775, a guy by the name of Benjamin Franklin opened a post office at what is now 316 Market Street, in Philadelphia. At the time, the newly opened post office didn't fly an American flag, because America wasn't yet a country.
Ben was a smart old goat. The post office he established operated in the same building as his old house.
Fast forward now exactly 236 years. Ben's old post office is still operating. It's the only one in America that doesn't fly an American flag, to honor the fact that Franklin started it before America became a nation.
Unfortunately, in a very strange twist of fate, exactly 236 years to the day of Franklin's founding of his post office, the operators of the Franklin branch, along with the postmasters of 3,653 other post offices throughout the nation, were informed that their branches are likely to be shut down.
See also: Is the U.S. Postal Service obsolete?
While it seems short-sighted, completely unromantic, and slightly disrespectful to lump the Franklin Post Office in with all the others, the fact remains that the U.S. Postal Service is losing money. Many of the small branches that the USPS wants to shut down have an annual revenue of less than $27,500 with annual expenses usually in the $100,000 range.
The closings are expected to cost between 4,000 and 4,500 postal employees their jobs.
The world has changed since Franklin's day. Back then, the postal service was a unique, reliable, cost effective way to get letters and packages transported reliably. The Postal Service's package business (the one genuinely profitable portion of its operation) has been eaten into by the likes of UPS and Fedex, as well as by rising gasoline prices.
Although the post office is reputed to lose money with each standard letter sent, millions of people today now communicate in 140 character tweets or use Facebook to post status updates.
It's deeply ironic, then, that the Post Office is previewing some of its new stamp designs on its Facebook stamps page. So far Kimberly, Judi, Maria, and three others like the stamp designs. Hey, at least six people like the designs, right? That's something, anyway.
In addition to closing many under-performing rural branches, the post office is planning on curtailing Saturday mail delivery.
Here are some resources:
- List of branches being considered for closing
- USPS Office of the Inspector General Twitter feed (interesting reading)
- USPS stamps Twitter feed
- USPS Facebook stamps page
- Mail service updates page
- Main USPS site
What do you think? Should the Franklin post office be closed? What about the others on the closing list? TalkBack below. Please try to be constructive and keep the conversation interesting and polite.