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Impact of USPS slowed service is yet to be seen

A leaked U.S. Supreme Court decision, not yet final, that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling recognizing abortion rights for women, will continue to dominate the nation’s attention for months, if not years.

Within hours after the decision was leaked, certainty already was cemented in the eyes of millions of Americans, men as well as women, that the ruling could have a seismic impact on this year’s midterm elections and the 2024 presidential balloting — as well as politics in general perhaps for generations.

Americans also must remain “plugged into” other issues and developments of importance that might affect their lives to varying degrees. We will focus on one of those issues in this editorial — the intentional slowing of the U.S. Postal Service.

The two issues are not related directly but are connected nonetheless by the fact that, in the end, both will have had much anger and many protests directed their way.

The U.S. Postal Service announced last month it would slow delivery times for nearly a third of all first-class packages as part of its efforts to lower costs and reduce its reliance on air transportation.

According to the postal service, the move will add up to one or two days for some packages traveling long distances — not welcome news to those postal customers who long have been critical about “snail mail.”

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy contends the longer delivery times are part of a plan to reduce more than $160 billion in projected losses over the next decade. But chances are that his savings will not reach what he is anticipating through the use of more trains and trucks to transport parcels instead of relying on an air network that he labels more costly and hindered by reliability issues.

The “jury” — meaning postal customers — will not need a year to return a “verdict” on the correctness of DeJoy’s judgment. If customers turn to United Parcel Service or Federal Express — or whatever other service — to get their packages to their destinations more quickly, it will be the package carriers’ financial gain and USPS’ revenue loss. How long that situation might be sustainable for USPS is anyone’s guess, but it should be an important point of contemplation. As many businesses and services already can attest, once customers “stray,” it sometimes is difficult to get them to return.

News media are chronicling the protests under way outside the Supreme Court building and in cities across the country. One such large protest occurred in Youngstown this past weekend. Meanwhile, there likely will be fewer, if any, actual postal protests, but customers will deliver their messages nonetheless — by way of less reliance on the post office. Eventually on both fronts, clear, unmistakable messages will be available for everyone to see.

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