Postal Service’s Hidden Agenda: Save the Penny : Stamps: After a $36-million windfall from Elvis, now they want to charge us 32 cents to mail a bill?

<i> Judy Lane is a writer in San Francisco. </i>

I was standing in line at the post office to mail a fruitcake to my sister for Christmas. The one my cousin sent me two years ago. A woman in front of me turned and said, “They’re jacking up the first-class rates.”

“Oh, these things can go bulk,” I said. “That’s why God created the fruitcake. If it takes a month, so what? These babies will survive a nuclear war.”

“Thirty-two cents to mail a letter,” she continued. “Can you believe it?”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “That’s, why that’s uh, well, a big increase!”

“Ten and half percent, honey,” she said.

A friend of mine just got a whopping 3% cost-of-living increase this year--after two or three years of pay cuts and other creative salary decreases.


What’s wrong with this picture? The same thing that’s wrong with that picture of Richard Nixon on his commemorative stamp.

I realize the Postal Service is having its economic problems just like every other business. After all, they have all that liability insurance for those disgruntled employees who shoot up the office once a year. But can’t they come up with something more inventive than another hike?

In 1991, they raised the 25-cent stamp to 29 cents. And now this. They just can’t seem to handle round figures. No 30-cent stamp or 35-cent stamp for these guys. It’s got to be 29 or 32 or anything to confuse people like me who have to pause in front of the machine trying to figure out just how many of those I can get for this change in my hand.

Heck, they made $36 million from the Elvis stamps alone. Don’t these people know how to manage their money? If the rest of us handled our personal finances that way, we could all run for Congress.

Maybe the answer is more realistic commemorative stamps to increase revenues. Forget those bloated, faded rock singers, crooked politicians and other hall-of-shamers. We need representatives of what the Postal Service is all about--reckless spending and out of touch with reality.

Can you just see rolls of Tori Spelling and Loni Anderson? Self-adhesive, of course.