In the context of a $15 trillion U.S. economy, this is a relatively small, $5 billion item. But in many ways it is a preview of things to come. Because if we don’t have the will to accept even this modest and relatively painless reduction in our collective standard of living, then we are never going to make the hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to annual consumption, both public and private, required to bring our over-indebted economy back into balance…

Most of the painful adjustments to our standard of living are ahead — and trust me, loss of Saturday mail service is the least of it. Inevitably we’re talking about higher taxes, higher interest rates, reduced government benefits and services, delayed retirements, higher prices for imported goods and slower growth, all of it lasting several years until things are brought back into balance. The only question is whether we will begin to make these adjustments voluntarily, gradually and fairly, or wait until they are imposed on us, harshly and unfairly, during the inevitable crisis that follows.