Imagine a world without junk mail. Now stop, because the one real one is about to have a lot more of it.
The United States Postal Service is cutting new deals with businesses and marketers in an effort to boost its junk mail, or standard mail business as it's more nicely known, The New York Times reports. With the postal service losing billions this year, the hope is that more junk mail will equal more revenue, building on the $17 billion its direct mail delivery service pulled in last year.
While postmaster general Patrick Donahoe defends standard mail as “the best way to reach your customer,” not everybody is thrilled. Junk mail already accounts for 48 percent of total mail volume, with first-class mail comprising less and less of the total, The Wall Street Journal reported last year, and the idea of even more has some perturbed.
“One of the biggest complaints that we get... is about the amount of junk mail clogging up their mailboxes,” Ed Gilbert, a solid waste manager in Brookline, Massachusetts, told The New York Times.
Just last month, the Postal Service proposed allowing Valassis Communications, a marketing company, the ability to send junk mail at discounted rates, a move that would hurt the newspaper industry but help the U.S. Postal Service to the tune of an estimated extra $15 million in profits over the course of three years, according to The Detroit News.
This likely won't be the idea that saves the U.S. Postal Service though. A few more parcels of recycled paper in everyone’s mailbox isn’t likely to make up for the estimated $25 million the agency loses daily, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Several plants have already been shuttered, with many other Post Offices around the country implementing service cuts to save on costs.
One Post Office in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, for example, has cut operating hours to just 30 minutes a day. That hasn't been enough either. The government agency defaulted on a $5.5 billion retiree benefit payment in August.
Utilities Shut Off Over Unpaid Traffic Fines
Faced with a declining budget, the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico told residents that unless they settled outstanding traffic fines their gas, water and sewage utilities would be turned off.
Swimming Pools Closed
In 2011, cities around the country <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/31/city-budget-cuts-summer_n_869202.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">suspended summer activities for kids</a> including closing public swimming pools and eliminating library reading programs.
Circumcision Funding Cut
Due to cash-strapped hospital budgets, the state of Colorado in 2011 decided to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/24/circumcision-budget_n_883743.html" target="_hplink">no longer fund circumcision</a>. The measure will save an estimated $186,500 annually.
Dark Fourth Of July Skies
City budgets were stretched so thin in 2011 that many towns could <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/03/fireworks-budget-cuts-american-fourth-of-july_n_888845.html" target="_hplink">no longer afford to pay for July Fourth fireworks displays</a>. However, some towns came up with alternative ways to fund the traditional displays.
Volunteer Prison Chaplains
The state of North Carolina was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/08/prison-chaplains-budget-cuts_n_921605.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">forced to rely on volunteers to provide religious services to inmates</a> after laying off prison chaplains.
Teachers Take Extra Time Off
In Seattle, teachers agreed to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/10/seattle-teachers-take-fir_n_923790.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">take an extra day and a half off</a> to ease budget concerns in 2011.
Arizona State Capitol Sold
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/12/jan-brewer-arizona-democrats-capitol-complex_n_1202636.html" target="_hplink">Arizona Governor Jan Brewer sold the state capitol in 2009</a> to bring in some extra cash. In January 2012, she announced plans to buy the complex back.
Marching Band Uniforms Go Casual
The high school marching band in North Bend, Oregon changed its uniforms to T-Shirts, jeans and knit caps <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/21/north-bend-high-school-ba_n_1023851.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">after the school couldn't afford to replace the more formal ensembles</a>.
Police Stop Responding To 911 Calls
In Smithfield, North Carolina the chief of police told residents that unless he was allowed to spend $30,000 that was originally meant for office supplies on gas money, the town's police force would no longer be able to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/smithfield-north-carolina-police-gas-money_n_1069470.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">respond to some 911 calls</a>.
Tearing Up Streetlamps
In 2011, Highland Park, Michigan announced it would be <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/07/highland-park-sreetlights_n_1079909.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">removing streetlights to help save on energy costs</a>.
Homeless Lose Access To Restrooms
In Sacramento, California a $200 million deficit led the city to install locks on public bathrooms <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/sacramento-united-nations-warning-homeless_n_1268946.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">cutting homeless people's access to water and restrooms overnight</a>.
Baltimore Sells Historic Buildings
Due to a $48 million budget gap, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/baltimore-historic-landmarks-revenue_n_1389222.html?ref=business" target="_hplink">Baltimore government announced plans to sell historic buildings</a> including the home of a 19th century U.S. Senator.