The US Postal Service is now faced with a tough decision: raise the price of a single stamp to $179, or fire 120,000 employees. Scenario B would require congressional approval, so as to get around postal union labor laws — but desperate times, etc. etc.

The layoffs — outlined in an ominous "Workforce Optimization" memo obtained by the Washington Post — are a direct response to a $20 billion loss for the post office over the past four years. Barring some miracle cash-influx from an eccentric trillionaire with a nostalgic attachment to the Pony Express of his youth, they will be carried out by 2015. But by then the delivery week will have been reduced to a single, 30-minute, pick-it-up-yourself window on Wednesday afternoons anyway, so you may not even notice that Mailman Mike is missing. [WashPo, photo via AP]