Paul Greenberg

Behind every one of these closings, there are real people who need more than just a place to pick up the mail; they need to see each other, exchange a few words, be neighbors. But where will they run into each other if the post office is gone?

Of course the Postal Service, like so many other federal agencies, needs to cut back. And adjust to these changed times. One of the folks at the hearing in Black Oak said he'd emailed his U.S. senator urging him to help save the post office. Yes, emailed him. Which explains why post offices are in trouble as the Internet takes the place of the postman.

But there are other, better and bigger cuts the Postal Service could make without cutting out rural America's heart. Every time somebody protests the loss of a government service, he ought to have to suggest a different way the government could save money.

Wanting government services but not wanting to pay for them is largely how we got into our current mess. Want to save the Alicias of the country? Then suggest how the Postal Service can economize some other way.

My suggestion: Instead of passing this burden. financial and emotional, on to small-town America, why not eliminate an expense that affects all of us, and not just every little crossroads town? Cut out Saturday mail delivery.

Couldn't we all live one more day without finding our mailboxes jammed full of the junk mail that makes the bills and the letter from Aunt Martha so hard to find?

How many more lost city folk looking for directions will have to be told to turn left "where the post office used to be" before all of us realize that not just motorists may lose their way? Sometimes a whole country can. As when it loses touch with its small-town roots.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.