US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

Summary: On its 236th anniversary, Ben Franklin's original post office, along with over 3,500 others, is being stamped out.

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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.

CBS News: USPS proposes village post offices to cut costs

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:

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.

Topic: Social Enterprise

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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84 comments
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  • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

    I wouldn't care if the Franklin PO had a negative revenue stream. That is an American Icon! We don't need another museum. That is probably the last remaining pre-America business operating in the same location.

    Keep it open!
    techtastic83
    • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

      @techtastic83 Absolutly keep Franklin's Post Office open!! Rather then close this bit of history, close down some of Congress's offices!
      phoenix144
  • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

    And we thought Postal workers were disgruntled before!
    Bates_
    • Finally!!

      No kidding!

      It's freaking about time they shut these things down!!! Only the blasted government would keep such unprofitable operations running for decades.

      What good is a post office that has only 2 hours of work a day? Do they only pay their overpaid/overbenefited workers for 2 hours a day or do they pay them for 6 hours of partying?
      archangel9999
      • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

        Was not Franklin, in his capacity as postmaster for Philadelphia, a servant of the British crown? It's not like the official postal system has ever been a true commercial venture. <a href="http://www.writinghelp.co.uk/essay/">essay</a> | <a href="http://www.writinghelp.co.uk/coursework/">Coursework</a> | <a href="http://www.writinghelp.co.uk/assignment/">Assignment</a>
        jordanhawk
      • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

        It's freaking about time they shut these things down!!! Only the blasted government would keep such unprofitable operations running for decades. <a href="http://www.writinghelp.co.uk/dissertation/">Dissertation</a> | <a href="http://www.writinghelp.co.uk/thesis/">Thesis</a>
        jordanhawk
      • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

        @archangel9999 They are not loosing money! Every tangible object bought or sold on the Internet has to be shipped. Without shipping, the Internet would be only half an entity and would be nearly worthless.
        Taking place now is a well orchestrated power play to eliminate a sleeping USPS from the trillion dollar internet shipping business, and in the process, sell off a huge chunk of America.
        The United States Postal Service posses the largest shipping infrastructure on earth. It is tax exempt and is non profit. No other shipper can compete with the Post Office. The Post Office keeps all others prices in check. That is why they have used lobbyists and our own lawmakers to destroy the USPS. They are now in the process of quickly selling off the infrastructure today and in the coming months. The Post Office can and has generated massive revenues for our treasury.. Right now, it is a Federal crime to steal even one piece of mail. How much more criminal is it to have the entire United States Postal Service stolen from us? We can???t let the USPS be turned into a private junk mail delivery service while some corporations force the liquidation of the real estate and equipment that took the American people more than 200 years to amass
        anonymous
  • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

    Franklin's Post Office was an entrepreneurial venture then, and should again become such. Buy out the "Government" and take over the office as a commercial venture again, without the imposition of regulated government abuse. In the process, the "for profit" museum/back-to-basics business of serving business can get out of the Politician's Greed box of goodies and back into the agile, responsive respect for the customer. It should be the next incubator of "Speedy Delivery."
    anonymous
    • Was it entrepreneurial?

      @SWPAnnA
      Was not Franklin, in his capacity as postmaster for Philadelphia, a servant of the British crown? It's not like the official postal system has ever been a true commercial venture.
      John L. Ries
  • I am not American

    But I do agree there is a historic aspect that should be preserved in this instance, as for the other post offices, if you dont have a good reason to keep them open then they should go to the dustbin created by the digital age.
    PriMinister
  • Just wondering....

    Is this computer related - other than the fact that snail mail has dropped as the Internet flurishes?
    Gis Bun
    • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

      @Gis Bun

      The problem the post office is facing is not actually due to a decline in shipments, the post office will ship 170 BILLION pieces of mail in 2011, so it is clear that the problem is not a lack of business.

      The real problem is that, much like the auto manufacturers, they are tied to insanely generous labor contracts, the pensions and benefits that postal workers receive are far more generous than those received by just about anybody else except Congress. They don't have enough money to pay out their retirement benefits.

      This is why, as part of its restructuring plans, the USPS is asking Congress for permission to start reducing retirement benefits.
      Doctor Demento
      • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

        @Doctor Demento

        You have no idea what you are talking about. The USPS has been forced by congress to *overfund* their pensions by billions. Without this unique requirement, the USPS would not be losing money.
        toadlife
      • Again you're wrong toadlife

        @toadlife The USPS hasn't been forced to OVERfund its pensions - the $5.5B per year target funding they're supposed to make is to FUND it, not overfund it.

        That's how ludicrously financially infeasible these stupid defined benefit pensions are. They decouple the long term payout from any reasonable contributions and force the employer (e.g., the government) to have to kick in billions of dollars to fund them. Most of these USPS workers will retire on pensions the equivalent of a $1 million IRA - how many people will have $1 million in their IRAs when they retire?
        archangel9999
      • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

        @Doctor Demento

        At least we got the Republican talking point LIE out of the way!

        Here's the TRUTH: The Postal Service is in trouble because of a Bush?era (2006) law that requires the USPS to massively prefund the cost of retiree health benefits over the next 75 years in just 10 years? time. This cost covers not only current employees, but employees who have yet to be hired ? and it is on top of the cost for health benefits for current retirees. No other company or agency in America is required to pre?fund future retiree health benefits.

        It's all part of the Republican shock doctrine plan to malign and destroy OUR government and hand it over to their transnational corporate masters.
        anonymous
  • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

    Here?s an option: Cut back on the entitlement payments! There is no need for my hard earned taxes going to support those too lazy to help themselves. Scale welfare back to a reasonable amount of time (2 to 5 years), rather than having the current system of making it a lifestyle. Just imagine the money that could be saved.
    Rick_K
    • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

      @Rick_K The Postal Service does not use tax dollars, you're barking up the wrong tree here.
      terry flores
      • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

        @terry flores
        I still believe that the first two things the Government should do are: Reduce the entitlement payments to the lazy, and put all the Politicians on Obammacare. The savings from those two moves would cut the deficit by such a large number, the country would be able to spend more, which would help the economy immensely.
        Rick_K
      • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

        @Rick_K<br><br>1) "Obamacare" is not something one can be "put on".<br>2) Welfare makes up a tiny portion (4%-8% depending on economic conditions) of the federal budget.<br>3) You are an idiot (see 1 and 2)
        toadlife
      • RE: US Postal Service plans to close 3,653 post offices. Here's a list.

        @toadlife
        1) 4-8% is tiny?!!!!! It's idiots like you that keep us in an insane deficit
        2) you're the idiot
        3) it's rude to call people idiots
        du.gtown