The US Postal Service is on the financial ropes, deeply in debt, and some of us wonder if there will even be a Postal Service in the future.

The Postal Service defaulted Wednesday on a $5.5-billion prepaid health care benefits payments for retirees. It’s just the latest in its long string of problems, brought about in part by the notion that it may be a thing of the past in this digital world.

After all, many of us who daily and routinely e-mail and text message repeatedly find ourselves only rarely sitting down to write, stamp and mail a letter. But Postal officials have pledged that their employees and those who contract with them will be paid and the mail delivery will continue.

The US Congress is the one and only source of help for the Postal Service. The Senate passed legislation to help back in April. But the House has not yet considered it. And some in the business world say that lack of unqualified support and a lack of rapid action by Congress sends the wrong message to businesses concerned about the long-term stability of the service.

Rutgers/Camden Postal history expert Andrew Shankman says it’s more than just mail delivery, it is also a Democratic symbol. He says it is one of the ways in which the United States demonstrated that a people can survive without a King or a Monarchy.

He says whether we decide to curtail weekly delivery or make other modifications, Americans will ultimately have to decide whether they want to continue this cheap and easy form of communication.