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Press Editorial: No need to return decision to sender

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." This inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City has served as the unofficial creed for U.S. postal carriers.

Thankfully, nothing is said about poor management and marketing plans. Nobody has depended on postal delivery more than newspapers and the thought of another price increase and cutting Saturday delivery is not welcome by our industry. The financial mess the post office has itself tangled in did not happen overnight.

And it won't be fixed overnight.

A talk of cutting Saturday home delivery is part of a plan of digging itself out of a hole. Stopping Saturday home delivery does not mean post offices would close that day.

Though cutting services is a start to saving money, the way the post office does business overall needs to be examined or it's doomed.

Sadly, the first kiss of death for many small towns is losing their post offices. As it looks to cut services, it's time for the U.S. Postal Service to look a little deeper.

The agency has cut its work force from a peak of 800,000 career employees to about 600,000, Postmaster General John Potter said, adding it wants to use more part-timers.

Electronic communications hasn't helped the industry as the number of items handled by the post office fell from 213 billion in 2006 to 177 billion last year. Volume is expected to shrink to 150 billion by 2020, according to The Associated Press.

However, that is not the only thing to blame. The office has been catering to direct mail customers for the last 20 years, and that gave increased meaning to the term junk mail. The goal: turn a buck.

Material sent shifted from first-class mail to standard mail advertising pieces.

A trip to the mailbox has gone from an exciting journey to a chore that often leads the gadabout on a direct trip to the garbage can.

Days of letters from Grandma are growing rarer and need to be revived. With first class stamps going for 44 cents, that may not happen.

Besides dropping Saturday delivery, the post office is planning a rate increase to fend off a projected $7 billion loss this year, according to The Associated Press.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., Senate subcommittee chairman, called on Congress to give the post office the flexibility to deal with its needs.

We hope Congress, the postmaster general and his Executive Committee keep in mind that raising prices while cutting delivery days and jobs may be a temporary solution but is hardly a blueprint for sustained viability.

We hope Congress members keep in mind that cutting services may be the easy solution at this point but few businesses succeed once the service end is stamped out.

-- The Editorial Board meets weekly to discuss issues of importance to the community.