By Gwen Fishel
During a discussion on the future of the United States Postal Service held on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Dr. Sheldon Garon, a professor of History and East Asian Studies at Princeton University, said the USPS might experience greater revenues if additional services are implemented at post offices across America.
Garon detailed the long historical trajectory of postal savings by banks worldwide in both developing and developed countries, adding that at one time, the United States had a postal saving system, but that the system was phased out by savings bonds during World War II and the FDIC by 1966.
Many other countries, including Germany, France, Switzerland, and Japan, have surviving postal savings banks as well as additional banking and monetary services.
While conceding that savings accounts at the Post Office may seem like a “pretty wacky idea,” Garon went on to explain that additional services might just be the way to save the postal service and increase revenue, especially during a time of exceeding cuts to funding and major declines in mail volume. He said such services could be “creative,” such as savings/checking accounts, debit cards, money orders, and electronic banking.
Despite a hunger strike held by the Community and Postal Workers United aimed at discouraging privatization, Garon said that partnering with the private sector, if postal banking is restored, would allow access to low income and younger customers.
Garon emphasized, however, that in order for these services to come to fruition, laws need to be changed. Some services offered by the USPS are “grandfathered [in],” but others sit in “murky” standing and probably require legislative adjustments.
“[The] law’s gotta be changed. It’s gotta be modernized,” Garon said.