Thousands of Post Offices, "Lifelines" of Rural Communities, Set to Close

The Founding Fathers were proud of our young country's postal system, and Benjamin Franklin was the US's first Postmaster General. But that doesn't stop the  changing times and technology from wearing the system down with underuse, as the number of letters and packages mailed has plummeted thanks to the recession and the increasing use of technology for communication.

And so the agency is preparing to decimate the system that provides a "life-line" for many rural communities in the US today.

Up to 2,000 Post Office branches will close this year, and many more are under review, the agency says. The agency is seeking a change in existing law--that change would allow it to close as many as half of the existing branches, reports the WSJ, which spoke to residents of one town about to lose its post office:

"It ain't right doing this to our community," says Delmer Clark, a 70-year-old retired coal miner in Eastern Kentucky's Appalachian Mountains, in the no-stoplight town of Holmes Mill. The post office here is set to close next month after more than 100 years. About the size of a garage, it has long been a part of the town's identity, and the pending closing is fueling local suspicion that public officials don't care about them. The local school closed years ago and reliable cable, Internet and cellphone reception has yet to arrive, residents say. "When they close the post office, they probably won't even come up here anymore and clean the roads," says Mr. Clark

Some lawmakers,the WSJ reports, are eager to see the comprehensive postal employee benefits slashed instead of cutting service, which seems like a lose-lose decision. But one promising idea from the Post Office itself is to replace the existing branches with stand-alone counters in existing establishments like banks or supermarkets. Hopefully such a plan would benefit people like the residents of Holmes Mill above.


AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at January 24, 2011, 3:11am

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