Postal Service Says “The Hell With It,” Raises 1st Class Stamp to $37
Washington, DC – The United States Postal Service has proposed an 800% increase in the price of a first class stamp to $37.00 “just to get it the hell over with,” said Postmaster General John Potter.
The increase which, depending on congressional approval, may go into effect as soon as 2011, is an attempt to leapfrog over a nagging $7.1 billion deficit facing the post office for fiscal 2010-11. “We believe that this increase in revenue will finally allow us to be competitive with FedEx and the United Parcel Service, and will keep us from painful layoffs and shortfalls in service for the next few years,” Potter added. The increase will add approximately $104 monthly to the average American’s budget.
Plummeting mail volume tied to the recession and the use of the Internet spurred the admittedly controversial rate jump. Staggering under enormous losses and considering the elimination of a delivery day, the USPS announced in July a two-cent increase in first class postage to 46 cents, on the heels of a three-cent increase in 2009. The USPS noted that the increases were necessary to keep the institution viable. Despite eliminating millions of work hours and reducing expenses by more than $1 billion every year since 2001, a budget gap remains.
“It’s simple math,” Potter said with some exasperation. “We raise the price two cents and everybody piles on with the complaints, so we had a strategic meeting and came to the conclusion that there’ll still be blowback, but not 800% worth. Rather than suffer the death of a thousand cuts, we’re going with one big incision and see how that goes.”
“There is no one single solution to the dire financial situation that the Postal Service faces,” Potter said. “This proposed adjustment is, relative to bank and automobile bailouts as well as floating those deadbeat Einsteins at Fannie Mae, a moderate and sensible approach to insuring mail service for all Americans well into the future. We’re just back-loading the ‘well into the future’ end of it.”
But organizations like the Affordable Mail Alliance, a newly formed lobbying group of direct mail advertisers, major trade groups, and publishers have taken their objections to Washington, fearful of the economic impact of proposed hikes. “We had to speak with one voice to let legislators know that this is the wrong time for an increase like this,” said Jerry Chaffee, a spokesman for the group. “It’s outrageous. We were pissed after they asked for two cents, so you can imagine how many arteries started slamming shut after they proposed this fiasco. I wish I had stock in Lipitor.”
“Sweet mother of Mabel. Two cents, and you’d think we’d demanded a loyalty oath,” an exasperated Potter countered. “Tough times demand big ideas, so we figured ‘why not think really big and just get it the hell over with?’ It’s not like we’re still the Pony Express. We’ve got tradition, duty, and a huge nut to cover every year. Selling boxes and tape and those creepy ‘Forever stamps' just doesn’t get the job done.
“This outfit was founded by Benjamin-freakin’-Franklin. That’s founding fathers cred here. Who founded UPS or FedEx? Some guy with an MBA and a polo shirt, that’s who. Every day, one of our people comes right to your door with a handful of important papers just for you. Every day.
"On top of that, many of our carriers are asked to open jars for old ladies and sniff around the house for natural gas leaks. One of our mail carriers even helped re-install Windows Vista for a guy who—get this—needed to pay his bills online. You think we’re going to do this anymore for 46 cents? Think again.”
Naturally, an increase of this magnitude must carry a value-added component lest congress and consumers reject it out-of-hand; mail carriers will now be required to have a basic understanding of plumbing, electrical, and automotive repairs as well as two semesters of psychological counseling courses to deal with customers suffering from loneliness and depression. “Everybody wants to chew the fat with our carriers. We expect the [delivery] rounds to take considerably longer than in the past,” Potter said. “Just wait till we submit our budget for 2013. That’s gonna be a doozy.
“By the way, when’s the last time you heard about somebody ‘going postal’ who’s actually been a USPS worker? We’ve gotten a bad rap.”
Congressional leaders have been mum publicly on the new rate increase, but some have said off-the-record that it would be labeled a "convenience fee," thus escaping the fury of November voters.