The price of a first-class stamp is going up again, on May 12th, to 42 cents. The Postal Service is hoping you buys sheets and sheets of Forever Stamps, which are currently priced at 41 cents (until May 12th). Economically this makes sense to you, the consumer, especially if you have the extra $$$ and do a lot of mailing.
According to the graph above, courtesy of the New York Times, either price is a good deal. Adjusted to inflation, the cost of a first-class stamp in 2008, either at 41 or 42 cents, is actually less than it was in 1913 (see graph).
Here’s the money shot from a NYT article Postal Service Again Vexes Penny Pinchers by PHYLLIS KORKKI (April 6, 2008):
Even so, the increases have not kept pace with inflation. If they had, a stamp that was 3 cents in 1917 would cost about 50 cents today.
That is the advantage of constitutionally-guaranteed and protected universal service. Suppose the US Constitution is amended, the Postal Service loses its monopoly on first class mail, and conpetition is allowed. I’d bet that initially “the brown” and the others would offer a low, low, introductory first class stamp at 41-42 cents–maybe less if you live in NYC, Boston, LA, Chicago or Miami. But–uh oh–fuel prices rose 13 cents/gallon last quarter. And, you live WHERE? What’s that you say–you can’t get there from here? That will cost extra. How much would DHL, UPS, or Fed-Ex charge to deliver a piece of mail to you if you didn’t live close enough to one of their hubs? What charge would their local sub-contractor add on to that cost? Who would those subs be, and who would make sure they didn’t tamper with your mail? Probably your stamp would cost at least 50 cents, and corporate America propaganda–ahem–advertising, would convince you it was a great bargain and a triumph of the free market.
There are reasons the postal service is the highest rated and most trusted of all government agencies, consistently, according to polls of the American public: It provides decent delivery times, average to way-above-average customer service, good prices, and universal service.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And sure as hell don’t saw it into pieces and sell it as scrap.
Update: US Postal Service #1 most trusted government agency for the 4th consecutive year according to poll by the Ponemon Institute (here–h/t Postal News):
U.S. Postal Service Again Honored as ‘Most Trusted’
Ponemon Institute Asks Consumers to Rank 74 Government Agencies
WASHINGTON, April 4, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The premier
privacy trust study in America has named the U.S. Postal Service the "Most
Trusted Government Agency" for the fourth year in a row.
More than 86 percent of the 9,000 Americans surveyed by the Ponemon
Institute ranked the Postal Service first among 74 agencies as the one that
is best able to keep their information safe and secure. The Postal Service
has increased its privacy trust score every year since the survey began
four years ago.
"We have a 230-year tradition of trust. Americans depend on the
security of the mail and they trust the Postal Service to protect their
privacy," said Delores Killette, vice president and consumer advocate. "Our
employees work hard to maintain that trust. They earned this honor and
recognition for their contribution to the value that trust brings to the
organization, and to the country."
Killette attributed the number one ranking, in part, to the trusted
relationship Americans have with letter carriers who deliver mail to every
home and business six days a week. They know their letter carrier by name.
Carriers are a welcomed and trusted member of the local community, she
"Because of this, the Postal Service truly is not a 'faceless' agency.
Consumer confidence in the mail is a top priority for the Postal Service
and its law enforcement agency, the Postal Inspection Service," Killette
The survey asked 9,000 Americans, selected at random, to rank 74
federal agencies based on the agency's ability to handle and protect
personal information. Questions ranged from factors creating trust in the
agency and the levels of confidence consumers have in the agency to protect
their information, including information provided on websites, to limiting
the amount of information collected.
"The government requires citizens provide detailed personal information
in order to deliver many services. But this does not absolve public
agencies of the responsibility to protect that information," said Larry
Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute.
The survey shows that those agencies with the most public interaction
-- and demonstrate a healthy respect for maintaining public trust -- have
always scored well over the years, Dr. Ponemon said.
Survey respondents also listed worries they had about how the federal
government uses their personal information. News items continue to
influence consumers' attitudes toward trust. Both Customs and Border
Protection and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration are among the five
least trusted agencies in a year when political debate surrounding
immigration policies made headlines, he said.
But the largest privacy concern, the study shows, is "loss of civil
liberties and privacy rights," with 57 percent of Americans listing this
concern first. About 56 percent listed "surveillance into personal life"
and almost half (47 percent) said "monitoring of email and Web activities"
were their top privacy concerns.
More than 40 percent listed identity theft as their top concern, up
from 29 percent in 2007, with most citing concerns with the secure websites
and the Internet. According to the Federal Trade Commission, mail accounts
for only 2 percent of all identity theft. But for the Postal Service, even
2 percent is too much. In February the Postmaster General sent a letter to
every address in America that included a brochure on preventing identity
"Since we conducted the first privacy trust study in 2004, the results
suggest that a large proportion of Americans do not trust the federal
government's privacy commitments," Dr. Ponemon said. "Yet, the trust
Americans have in the Postal Service continues to grow every year."
Copies of the 2008 Privacy Trust Study of the United States Government
are available by contacting the Ponemon Institute at
An independent federal agency, the U.S. Postal Service is the only
delivery service that visits every address in the nation -- 146 million
homes and businesses. It has 37,000 retail locations and relies on the sale
of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses, not tax
dollars. The Postal Service has annual revenues of $75 billion and delivers
nearly half the world's mail.
Ponemon Institute, LLC is dedicated to advancing responsible
information and privacy management practices in business and government. To
achieve this objective, the Institute conducts independent research,
educates leaders from the private and public sectors and verifies the
privacy data protection practices of organizations in a variety of