Thursday, June 07, 2007

It's sounding like another case of Government Gobbledygook...
The Saga of the so-called "FOREVER" Stamp...

Blogger's note: I'm trying to work through this. I know I'm irritated by it, but I'm not sure why. As you read this post, you'll see me trying to untangle my brain cells here. It's painful.

The way that things work anymore, I take great stock in the saying "Everything You Know Is Wrong". And it's true! We're all living in a parallel universe, where nothing makes sense. And after reading an editorial about the "forever" stamp, I'm left with another case of "huh? what?" Maybe I'm nitpicking here, but something to me just ain't right about this whole deal., what is the definition of "forever"? Well, if something is "forever", then it doesn't change, right? Like the old song, "Please Love Me Forever" short, he wants her to be with him for always (and a day). "Forever" means something that will stand the test of time, unchanged. Like, "the Sun will rise and set forever"...only that may not be totally accurate, since the Sun is going to burn out in a few gazillion years...

When I heard about the U.S. Post Office's much-lauded "forever stamp", I thought, "HAH! Who are they kidding? NOTHING is forever!" The "forever" stamp costs 41 cents. And theoretically, if you buy several sheets of "forever" stamps and keep them for forty years, you will still be able to mail your letter with one of the 41-cent "forever" stamps that you bought long ago in '07. So even if a first-class stamp in the year 2047 costs $150 dollars, your 41-cent "forever" stamp you bought back in 2007 will suffice for the postage to send your letter in 2047. Stated another way, as long as you have old, existing "forever" stamps, they will cover your first-class postage rate, no matter how much postage rates increase. So that is one version of "forever", or at least, "forever" until you run out. Now things begin to get complicated...

Depends on what your definition of 'forever' is, I guess.

Okay, here's the rub. Once you run OUT of 41-cent "forever stamps", and say you bought several hundred sheets of them in 2007, and, as above, it is the year 2047 and a first-class stamp costs $150, and you need to buy new "forever stamps", a "forever" stamp will cost you $150, not 41 cents. In short, once you have used up your existing stock of 41-cent "forever stamps", you'll have to pay the going postage rate for "forever stamps", whatever that rate is, if postage rates become higher than your previous "forever" stamps could cover. Let's envision an easier-to-imagine scenario. If, say, stamps go up 4 cents to 45 cents, then a new "forever stamp" will increase from 41 to 45 cents. See how this works now?

So, you buy new "forever" stamps at whatever the rates are, and THOSE stamps will be good until you run out, perhaps at a time when "forever" stamps command a higher price than you paid for your previous batch of "forever" stamps, so you pay more for new "forever" stamps, and the process repeats into infinity. Hmmm...infinity? Maybe that's where the word "forever" comes in? It's basically a game of "postal price leap-frog". So actually, the postal increases you'll face when you run out of "forever" stamps will stand to be A WHOLE LOT MORE than if you had used regular stamps all along. Think about it. Stamps go up, what, 3 or 4 cents every couple of years? Well, say you have GOBS of forever stamps and it takes you several years to use them all up. Instead of price increases in small increments with regular stamps, the price differential between your old "forever" stamps and the new ones you'll have to buy could be HYOOOOGE. And you'd have a postal-caused heart attack. And you'd have to pay increased ambulance rates.

So, what is "forever" about all of this? In my book, "forever" stamps should be able to be purchased for 41 cents, FOREVER. After all, "forever" is FOREVER, right? A 41-cent "forever" stamp should always cost 41 cents! Ah, but that's not the way it works. For soon, it'll be a 45-cent "forever" stamp...and so on, and so forth. And, the only difference, as far as I can see, is that if you have old "forever" stamps, you won't have to buy small-value stamps to add on in order to meet the current postal rate. So, really, the word "forever", at least to me, is not an accurate description of these new-fangled stamps, but it sure sounds good, don't it?

So now, there are two types of stamps, the "forever" stamp and the regular run o'the mill stamp, and rates of both of those will only increase. Only, they'll increase at different levels. Monitoring both sets of increases means, more gov't expenditures. Plus, the printing of more kinds of stamps will also cost money, in terms of stamp design, the making of printing plates, additional printing labor, and so on and so forth, all translating once again, into more gov't expenditures. So, really, are we better off with "forever" stamps, or is this some sort of PR thing the government's doing to try and increase overall stamp sales?

Government, that's forever. Only, that WILL have the same value forever. Which is NOTHING. So, what would be a proper name for the so-called "forever" stamp? The "good-for-a-while" stamp? The "good-until-postage-rates-increase-more-than-a-nickel stamp?" Naaaah, waay too wordy. You'd need a bigger stamp. And that would cost more.


Anonymous Angela said...

You're definitely on to something here. I think they're just banking (literally) on all of us knuckle-heads to buy hundreds of dollars of stamps thinking we're getting ahead of the game, and eventually, ya know, lose them.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

Angie, Angie, Angie...I didn't even think of that angle...LOSING stamps, because I never lose anything, ever! (Yeah, rrright). It's just that when something new comes out, there are all kinds of reasons for it that we'll never know about, especially when a government agency says something is "FOREVER". (besides death and taxes, that is)

1:29 AM  

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