Why a stamp should cost a buck

The Postal Service badly needs more revenue, and when you think about it, the 44 cents you're paying now is an incredible bargain for what you get.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 22, 2011 6:41PM

This post comes from John B. Saul of MSN Money.


Here's how we can all pitch in to save the U.S. Postal Service: Pay $1 for a first-class stamp.


Sure, that's going to cost the average U.S. household about $80 more a year to mail its 2.8 letters a week, but think of it like football on campus: That muscled-up activity brings in the most money and supports volleyball, water polo and other sports that don't fill stadiums. First-class mail plays the biggest financial role in making it possible for the Postal Service to reach every address in the nation -- 150 million residences, businesses and post office boxes.


A buck a stamp might not be a bargain for mailing letters across town, but if you're in the Lower 48 sending happy birthday wishes to an oil-worker friend in Barrow, Alaska? You can't beat it -- and some argue that the post office should charge according to the distance the mail will travel.


We could avoid that if we all just ponied up $1 to mail a first-class letter. It would still spread out the actual costs of mail delivery and would get the post office out of the $9 billion deficit hole it sees up ahead.


Plus, right now the Postal Service is giving away the store compared with other nations. What cost 44 cents in the U.S. costs 60 cents to mail in Australia, 59 cents in Canada and 70 cents in Great Britain -- where there's no place 3,000 miles away.


Besides, what company would promise to take your envelope and fly it across the country and take it to the right person for a mere 44 cents?


So what does the post office think of the idea?


Not much.


Raising the cost of a first-class stamp by a penny once brought in an additional $1 billion in revenue each year for the Postal Service, said Ernie Swanson, communications program specialist for the USPS Seattle District. Under that formula, $1 stamps would pour $56 billion into the post office's annual revenue stream of more than $67 billion.


Problem solved.


But that old formula is broken. Now when the price of a stamp goes up, more people turn to email, other delivery services and online bill paying.


"A one-dollar stamp might have the opposite effect," says Sue Brennan, national spokeswoman for the Postal Service, driving consumers away and actually decreasing revenue.


Use of first-class mail has been declining for years: down 25% in five years and nearly 50% in the past 10. That trend (.pdf file) is expected to continue, even without a $1 stamp.


Let's say enough people realized what a bargain even a $1 stamp would be and decided to stick with the post office, bringing in half of that former billion dollars for each penny increase. That would still bring in more than $25 billion.


Once again, problem solved.


But there's another hitch in getting a $1 stamp: By law, the post office can only raise the price of a first-class stamp by the rate of inflation, which has been historically low the past few years. The Postal Service did file for a 2-cent "exigent rate increase" last year, an emergency measure that was turned down by the Postal Regulatory Commission.


The Postal Service appealed, but on Tuesday the commission told it to concentrate instead on cutting costs, which is in keeping with the latest post office plans: layoffs, reductions in processing facilities and slower mail delivery to save $3 billion. Post continues after video.

What the post office really wants is more flexibility. For instance, that would make it easier for the post office to do away with Saturday delivery, which now takes an act of Congress.


There's lots of support for that. "If the Postal Service is supposed to survive on its own, Congress must give it more true independence," a Los Angeles Times editorial said. "That means allowing postal managers to decide how many days a week to deliver, to set the rates and to look for innovative ventures such as Internet services that might redefine its mission for the next century."


Here's another idea.


This week the Postal Service dedicated its fourth semi-postal stamp, which sells for 55 cents -- 11 cents more than a first-class stamp -- and $11 for a sheet of 20.


Semi-postal stamps, authorized under a 2010 law, raise money for selected causes. The extra money from the "Save Vanishing Species" stamps goes to help save tigers (this week's stamp shows an Amur tiger cub), African and Asian elephants, rhinos, great apes and marine turtles. The net proceeds from the stamps go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support the Multinational Species Conservation Fund.


How about a semi-postal stamp to save the Postal Service?


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Sep 23, 2011 12:02PM

I use to work for the USPS for 26 years, so here is an insider point of view with bold changes.  Stop the waste and corruption first. Here are my ideas.

1) Deliver only 3 days a week MON, WED and FRI

2) Get rid of dead beat employee who cheat the system with false disability claims or people who commit fraud, and employee who are lazy.  Honest day of pay for honest work

3) Get rid of the union who protects these dead beat employees who commit fraud and have false disability claims.

4) Stop Over Time pay(time and a half), V-Time pay(double time), Sunday pay( plus 10% of your pay), Night difference( plus 10% of your pay) and working on Holidays( double your pay).  USPS does not have the volume of mail to justify the labor force to stand around and do nothing. 

5) Stop buying multi million dollar sorting machines that don't work or go obsolete as soon as the machines are installed

6) Have only two shifts and not three.  Again no mail volume to justify extra shifts.

7) Stop sending 53' truck out only half full.  You are paying to ship air.

8) Stop calling for over time when there is no mail, This is only done to justify budget dollars for the following year.






Sep 23, 2011 7:56AM
Since the majority of the mail is bulk (junk mail), why does junk mail get such a huge discount? Raising the bulk rate helps USPS, helps me by eliminating junk mail, and saves trees!
Sep 23, 2011 9:41AM
How about we start charging companies more who send us all of the garbage mail in our mail boxes.  The bulk mail rates are barely a few cents per item.  If you are going to send me a credit card offer, then pay the 44 cents instead of 5.7 cents per envelope or whatever it costs these days.  Make the bulk mailers pay their fair share.
Sep 22, 2011 9:05PM

The Post Office is the best option going for small businesses and the everyday consumer (even many large companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Walmart and Ebay).  Compare prices of FedEx and UPS to the Post Office.  Their prices are ridculous.  I purchase 2 CD's online the other day.  The options were to pay $4 to have them delivered by the Post Office or $8.50 to have them delivered by UPS.  Same delivery time.  More than double the cost !!  If you think prices in the stores and online are expensive now, just wait !!!  If you reduce the competition of the Post Office by eliminating them, FedEX and UPS will be able to charge anything they want.  Everyone get ready for even higher prices on everything we purchase every day !!!  Once again, who will be the losers in all of this - us the consumers.

Sep 22, 2011 7:45PM

Sure, I'll pay $1.00 for first class postage just as soon as they eliminate bulk mail which is SUBSIDIZED by first class postage. Why should anyone be able to mass mail UNWANTED "OFFERS" for credit cards and other "junk" at reduced rates?

Make the mailing costs identical for every piece of mail sent.

Bet you could raise even more revenue that way....or at least stop the dam credit card companies from "spamming" consumers with garbage!!

Sep 23, 2011 3:01PM
If you charge me a buck for a stamp, charge the spammers who send me credit card apps and insurance ads every day $2.50.
Sep 23, 2011 1:43PM

Don't any of you people actually read and find out the true cause of the post office problems. The government does NOT subsidize the post office. It is funded by the sale of stamps and postal products only. The reason there is a budget problem is because the post office is required by federal law to prefund its retiree programs  75 years into the future within 10 years.  At the cost of almost 5.5 billion dollars a year, no other business in the world is forced to operate under these circumstances.  With out this the post office would have been showing a profit each year of this recession.

Take the time to learn what you are talking about before you get on a public forum and spew your nonsense!


Sep 22, 2011 9:52PM

Here's an idea, I would pay a dollar to have USPS send all the junk mail back where it came from!

Sep 23, 2011 9:45PM
All of you people bashing the PO, be careful what you wish for.....when people bitch about the price of stamps to send a letter across the country for .44, I just tell them they can certainly drive it there themselves.......If the PO goes down, it's not only postal workers that will be unemployed, there are a lot of other industries dependent on the mail too.  Printers, mailers, paper companies, etc.......what's going to happen when the whole damn country is unemployed???  If you don't use the po, that's fine......good luck getting your package from Amazon if you live in BFE.......UPS and FEDEX don't want the little door to door business........that​'s why THEY pay the PO to deliver parcels.  If it is privatized.......you​ can be sure everything will cost more to send.  Those companies aren't going to want to deliver to Grandma out on some farm........cost's too much.  The Postal Service was never supposed to be a business.....it was designed to give universal service to Every American, no matter where they lived.  Not everyone has a computer, (or want's one) not everyone lives in a city.
Sep 23, 2011 6:41AM
Increase the rates for those junk mails only, I'm sure that will SOLVE THE PROBLEM POST OFFICE ARE HAVING.
Sep 22, 2011 7:43PM
Here is a better idea. Make it 5 dollars to send out bulk/junk mail. The USPS would make a huge profit. Let's face it, probably 90 percent of what they hand out is crap.
Sep 23, 2011 12:58AM
I have worked for USPS and the only thing it needs saving from is its own greed. I have seen waste of money in overabundance. Among those things: Assistant supervisors who would make employees run mail on the same exact sort just so they would have production numbers that would justify the need for a daytime shift ultimately insuring they would hang on to their temporary supervisory status indefinitely. 2nd & 3rd shift supervisors who would come in and remove time cards and call unnecessary overtime on prior shift workers. A manager who thought he was something akin to "The Godfather" to the point he actually stated to me "you keep your friends close and your enemies closer". I didn't realize it came from that movie until some years later. He was investigated and allowed to take his pension w/ him even though approx. 28 people came forward with info on his various misdeeds. Mind you he wasn't a murderer but he did manipulate, pull strings, break lots of rules and allowed other managers under him to do the same. Another manager stole supplies to use in his own business. This was supposedly a secure building. Months old mail can be found under and in machines.Quite frankly after having seen the great amount of mismanagement, lack of accountability, abuses of position, moral busting attitudes, and lack of taking pride in a job well done, I'm shocked that anyone gets their mail and that the Postal system hasn't collapsed yet. I agree that the pay is quite inflated. Not to mention what it take to get rid of a problem employee. And the good employee- MASH quote fits very well..."No good deed goes unpunished". Management is even more grossly overpaid than front-line employees. 
Oct 5, 2011 8:05AM
How about this...instead of charging $1 for a first class stamp, charge $1 for every piece of junk mail delivery. That would reduce the amount of junk mail filling up our mail boxes every week and reduce the load on the USPS so they could spend their resources (time, money, fuel, people) on delivering "real" mail.
Sep 23, 2011 12:01PM
Disband the postal workers union, stop Saturday deliveries, close some branches, (I live in a town of less than 15,000 people and have 3 post offices!!!) suddenly you have a viable postal service.  What is so hard to figure out about that?
Sep 23, 2011 7:20AM
The United Post Office  , would be profitable if the Federal Government would keep there hands out of the money. It is a know fact that 5 billion dollars went to the Federal Government slush fund.  Sure raise to $1.00 , they will be still in the hole. All that means that the government will take more money and waist it away. The Federal Government needs be run like a business. SOMEONE NEEDS TO BE ACCOUNTABLE!  LETS MAKE THEM BE ACCOUNTABLE! 

Lets look at this another way. Don't raise the cost to the public first!

We can reduce cost, save trees, and eliminate JUNK MAIL. The post office gives breaks to people who use bulk mail.  WHY DO THAT?

Charge them the same for each "item" they mail. Then if the post office is still in the red, raise the cost of a stamp "EQUALLY" !

I just hate getting mail to me or current occupant, it just goes into the trash, and raises my trash collection bill, and fills in the dumps faster. 


I dont understand why people is so against the post office.. I understand that more and more people are paying bills online  BUT you can believe me that in the near future these places that you are paying your bill to  will start charging you and it will be more then 44cents..i have some already charge more then 3 dollars just to pay your bill..i will use my usps..its a great deal

Sep 22, 2011 8:37PM
You'll spend 5 on coffee and argue 1 dollar stamp delivery confirmation is about .70  not 17 dollars. Signature confirmation about 2.50 can be accessed online. Ive been waiting 3 days for a fedx pack thats 5 miles from my house for the last 3 days.
Sep 23, 2011 2:39PM

mr saul


first clean up the pension system which pays more to a retiree than when he was working.

second close down all post offices that are with in 10 miles of one another .

third one delivery per day  not two for businesses.

fourth three type of service for domestic addresses first class, priority & express

no more discounts for circulars, charities mass mailers or governments.

business wants the service they will pay like credit card companies and utilities.

fifth cancel saturday deliveries.

in urban ares their are three post offices within 1 square mile.

start runing it like a real business. in certain areas out source


Sep 23, 2011 2:05PM
Let's try a 50-cent stamp first.  That, combined with some common-sense cost-cutting measures should be enough to close the revenue gap.  Two bits for a 1st Class letter is a good compromise we should all be able to live with.
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