Thursday, July 8, 2010

My 2-Cents On US Postal Service Rate Increase

The US Postal Service is seeking another rate hike for most all postage rates. The major impact will be the cost of a one-ounce first-class letter going to 46-cents (in Johnston County they say 46-cent) from 44-cents. There are two thoughts about this which I’m sure not too many people think about anyway except to complain about the rising cost of something they don’t use.

First thought: Where in the world can you have someone come to your home, pick up an envelope with a letter or a bill payment and deliver it all the way across the country or next door or down the street for less than 50-cents? In reality, it’s a sweet deal, if you ask me.

Second thought: Why should the US Postal Service be unlike any other business that can’t make ends meet with the exception of the major car companies and banks, obviously? Here’s a great quote from Stephen M. Kearney, a vice president of the US Postal Service: “The Postal Service faces a serious risk of financial insolvency.”

Duh! As if we haven’t known that for years and years. While use of the Postal Service for everyday reasons such as receiving and paying bills has declined, the US Postal Service has been slow to adapt. It lost $3.8 billion last year and is expected to lose $7 billion this year and next. The 2-cents rate increase is expected to being in about $2.5 billion, reducing the losses to approximately $4.5 billion which is expected (Ha! Ha!) to be made up with other rate increases.

Though $2.5 billion sounds like a lot of additional income from a 2-cents rate increase, it’s not so much that individuals will feel the increase. It will be felt, and rightfully so, those businesses and charities that use the service to flood our mailboxes with junk. Yesterday, I received two pieces of mail, both advertising images, both tosses into the recycling bin without more than an obligatory glance at the front to see how much money I could save on whatever was being sold.

While the US Postal Service remains a non-tax subsidized government agency, one of the biggest users of the USPS is the government at no cost to the government. I’m referring to those franking privileges for members of Congress. What I receive through the US Postal Service from my Congressman is not more than a campaign piece of literature. Round estimates are that at least $500 million could be saved if this “service” to members of Congress was eliminated.

There are other cost savings ideas being floated such as closing one day a week such as Saturday or Monday and eliminating delivery—home and business—one day a week. I vote for Monday, considering there are several Monday holidays now. What’s another Monday here and there without mail service?

In keeping with a long-time public relations move of including good news when announcing the bad news, officials with the US Postal Service said they will soon offer a new design on the “Forever” stamp, the first class stamp that has no value printed on it. Right now, the first class “Forever” is 44-cents, and when the rates increase as expected next January, those 44-cents stamps will be usable without additional charge. While the current Forever stamps are adorned by the boring Liberty Bell, the new design will be bejeweled with evergreen trees, some sort of symbolism, I guess. Get it: Evergreen; Forever?

In keeping the idea that the US Postal Service is very inefficient, I wonder what the new design and additional printing will cost. Considering the projected deficit of the US Postal Service, maybe sticking with the current design is a better idea. On the other hand, maybe the US Postal Service is just taking its cue on deficits from its parent (US Treasury), so what difference does it make.

Still, though, 50-cents doesn’t get you much these days, but for less than that you can mail a first-class letter to anywhere in the United States. Hopefully, it will arrive, but that’s another story for another day.


  1. Indeed, we have long taken 99% efficiency of posted mail for granted. Alas, a handful of USPS "psychos" giving us the term "going postal" didn't help their image. Then there was Cliff Claven too.

    But I hardly "mail" ten pieces/month what with on-line bill paying et al.

    My mail box and my land line telephone may one day be gone and I won't miss either for several weeks. Kinda like when my goldfish died.

  2. Americans still enjoy the lowest cost, most efficient Postal Service in the industrialized world. Viritually every other developed country charges their populations MORE to deliver a letter over SHORTER distances and take more TIME to do it !!!!!! Secondly, the Post Office does offer a measure of competition to UPS and FedEx. TRY THIS: Take a package into a UPS store and get a price quote, then go to the Post Office. 9 times out of 10 the Post Office will charge you less to send it !!!!!!!!


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