…budget crisis should keep the U.S. Postal Service from making its appointed rounds.

Just ask the good people of Otisfield how they feel about the USPS. They parked a backhoe in front of the town’s only mailbox to stop its removal. The Postal Service yielded, and unless some blue-shirted bureaucrats descend on the town to drag it away, it will probably remain.

The United States of America needs a strong, efficient and revenue-neutral Postal Service that adapts to changing trends, not one that gets destroyed by them.

Underneath the hand-wringing about the effects of e-mail and other things that are replacing mailed documents, such as online bill-paying and fewer direct-mail pieces, is the plain fact the Postal Service remains an amazing bargain.

For 44 cents, a person anywhere in America can send actual, physical correspondence to somebody else. The mail is the first wireless communication — sorry, BlackBerry and iPhone. It may not be instantaneous, but the mail still has the lowest cost of entry.

Try buying the latest gizmo for a quarter, dime, nickel and four pennies.

And consider what happens to that piece of paper after it is stamped and sent. It becomes one of 180 billion other slips of paper and packages that are processed annually by the Postal Service, sorted and delivered to every corner of the country, from Bethel, Maine, to Barrow, Alaska.

From financial and logistical perspectives, this is a remarkable feat. And it occurs six days a week, almost every week of the year. The system is methodical, reliable and predictable. It is also expensive, outdated and cumbersome to reform and streamline. Yet its value remains unquestioned.

So the question becomes, “What to do?” There are plans to reduce mailing to five days per week, which could save some $3.3 billion per year. While this saves money, it would cut access to the mail and hurt its long-term viability. We should not make the Postal Service less useful.

We should, however, make the Postal Service less wasteful. Although the sentiments in Otisfield are laudable, they do block more than one mailbox. They block savings for the Postal Service, which are desperately needed to keep it running. Its projected deficit is $6 billion.

Centralizing post offices and removing little-used or neglected boxes are necessities, justified not just because fewer pieces of mail flow through them, but because they may not fit with modern standards of convenience. Technology has made all the world a mailbox; are mailboxes now in places where they are most convenient to be used?

There is another option: raising prices. For what it takes to operate, the price of mailing remains quite minuscule. Would 50 cents for a stamp be so objectionable? What about $1?

If one mailbox is worth blocking with a backhoe to save, isn’t the whole postal service worth paying a little more for?

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