A new idea for postage rates

Published 9:43 pm Monday, April 20, 2009

The price of a stamp is going up again. A first-class stamp will cost 44 cents on May 11, The Clanton Advertiser reported on April 17, a 2-cent increase.

Don’t get me wrong. Sending a piece of mail is still a great value for people just wanting to communicate with a friend or relative. And price increases, as with any service in this great country of ours, are to be expected. Everything costs more than it did five years ago, and stamps are no exception.

But it seems the postal service should take a better approach than to just continue making its service more expensive. E-mail, whose appeal is in part that it’s free, has been one of the biggest threats to traditional mail.

Service spokesman Josh Breckinridge told the Advertiser the price increase is a result of a decrease in the volume of credit card offers and loan offers being sent out by the financial industry.

Therein lies the answer. Instead of making hard-working, letter-writing Americans pay more to make up the difference, USPS should just increase the rates for business mail. Businesses, after all, end up paying less per item mailed because they receive a bulk rate.

Here’s the kicker: rates should be set depending on the desirability, or lack thereof, of the type of mail sent. For example, a piece of direct mail advertising prices at a local business isn’t too annoying and can actually be helpful—so set the price lower than for a credit card offer, which no one really wants to get and can end up detrimental to a person’s finances.

The postal service gets the revenue it needs, less junk mail is stuffed into mailboxes, and snail mail maintains its status as an inexpensive method of communication. Everyone wins—except the credit card companies.