The holidays are fast approaching and you want to wish your cousins a happy new year. Do you shoot them a text, send a Snapchat, or drop a card in a mailbox?
Chances are, you won’t be going to a post office—and you’re not alone. Last year, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) shipped nearly 150 billion pieces of mail, down from 203 billion a decade earlier.
Today, most personal communication is done via email, texting, and social media, and most bills are paid online. Many people are asking: Do we still need the post office?
Supporters say the USPS is necessary because it performs services that no for-profit business would. That’s because, by federal law, the USPS has a responsibility “to provide postal services to bind the Nation together” by serving every community regardless of size, distance, or economic status.
Opponents, however, say the post office is no longer useful in a world of instant communication. Not counting invitations and holiday cards, the average U.S. household receives only 10 pieces of personal mail per year. Critics say a private company could modernize the Postal Service, developing new delivery systems, such as drones, for the way we live today.
Do we still need the post office? Two experts—one the head of the postal workers union, the other a researcher of economic and government policies—weigh in.