It was recently announced that the U.S. Post Office will stop its delivery of mail on Saturdays, starting in August of 2013. This was done in order to save approximately $2 billion per year. The problem is that the losses were $15.9 billion last year, according to this New York Times article. So, once the Saturday delivery service is cut, the losses will be slightly less, but still huge.
I love to read about new technology in our world and try to figure out its potential impacts. Most technological advances end up being a net positive for liberty. While some new technologies are used against us by the government, I think the overall trend is that they are more often beneficial.
I frequently use the example of email and cell phones. New technology, coupled with delivery companies like Fed Ex and UPS, has made the Post Office far less relevant. But most people respond that while this is true, the Post Office is still in existence.
But this canceling of Saturday delivery is a crack in the door. This is just a start. These continued losses by the Post Office are not sustainable, because eventually people will realize that there is no point on continuing to run a losing organization, with taxpayer money, when the service isn't that valuable.
Ironically, the Post Office is one of the few things the federal government does that is actually constitutional. Yet, even this is a disaster and should not be a function of government. It is also important to note that just because postal service is an enumerated power in the Constitution, it doesn't mean that Congress has to do it or fund it. In addition, the Post Office doesn't have to have a monopoly on the delivery of first-class mail. Let's open it up for competition.
I think this is the beginning of the end of the Post Office and its government monopoly over first-class mail. Perhaps it will take another 10 or 20 years to end the whole thing, but I do believe it is inevitable. I guess this will prove Reagan's saying wrong that government programs never disappear.
I expect this to happen with other government programs. Technology makes them irrelevant over time. One of the worst government programs is education, and it is slowly being undermined by technology. Just like the Post Office, we haven't seen any cuts in spending on government education, but it will happen eventually. People will realize that their child can get just as good of an education (or probably better) by sitting at a computer for most of the day. There is no need for taxpayers to shell out, in many instances, well over $10,000 per year per child.
Libertarians should welcome the news of the Post Office canceling Saturday deliveries. It means that government programs can be scaled down. Eventually, we should see an end to the Post Office, or at least the one run by the government. This is positive news for those who favor liberty.