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Post office still relevant in a digital world

Post office still relevant in a digital world
While our parents might still want hard copies of their bills, financial statements, or newsletters, many in our generation would scoff and log in online for the same information. Such a shift between the baby boomer generation and the Internet generation is great for the environment, but not so good for the future of the United States Postal Service.
It's no secret that post offices are struggling. The Daily has hosted multiple news stories about the potential shutdown of smaller Ames post offices and proposals to close 10 percent of all U.S. post offices have been floating through Congress for months.
While many students won't care whether the Postal Service exists 10 years from now, there are good reasons that this federal service should not be shuttered completely.
While the Internet is slowly sharing a world of information with rural communities, for many the post office still remains a major method of communication with the outside world. No commercial company in its right mind would provide a service where you can send a letter from Story City, Iowa, (pop. 3,400) to Wallace, Calif., (pop. 253) for the same price as sending a letter from Des Moines to nearby Chicago. This one-price communication network allows individuals to easily share information and ideas with others no matter where they live and is a pillar of free speech in the United States.
But on the other hand, the Postal Service is not 100 percent efficient. There are many ways it could cut costs while retaining its basic, non-tiered delivery service. We could learn a thing or two from countries like Germany, where the delivery back-end of the postal service remains, but 99.9 percent of the post offices have been shuttered and instead the postal service provides services housed in local businesses.
Our mailboxes could be co-located in fewer central locations to save on delivery costs. Service days could be cut or subdivided to allow the Postal Service to provide delivery to the country's many small towns.
Email is an amazing innovation, but it is far from perfect. Originally used to connect researchers, email is far less secure than a sealed envelope for sending information. Its ease of use makes global commerce possible, but also leads to mistakes like the leaked internal CBS memo that angered the Bachmann campaign recently.
We go to the Post Office to send mail, get passports, register for the selective service and accomplish many other tasks today. Their services are still important to all of us, but it is time for a change. We'll miss the MU Post Office, but we can survive with fewer offices here in Ames.









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