Starting with Benjamin Franklin, one postmaster general after another endeavored to speed up the U.S. Mail. In this ongoing quest to move mail faster, a series of transportation advances were eagerly adopted, from stagecoaches to steamships to railroads to airplanes. But the current postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, is pursuing a course of action that departs from the goals and aspirations of his predecessors. While previous postmasters generals sought faster mail delivery, DeJoy stands out for his wish to make it slower. Beginning this October 1, many Americans can expect permanently slower mail, especially if they live on the West Coast.
DeJoy claims that lowering service standards offers an outstanding opportunity to cut costs because hauling mail overland on trucks will prove cheaper than using air transportation. Lost in this short-term calculus is the cost to American citizens and to the health of the Postal Service in the long run. Degrading standards of service and discarding competitive advantages is not a formula for long-term relevance.