Here’s the deal. I don’t understand it when people complain about the consistent increases in stamp prices over the past decade.
If I asked you to come to my house and pick up a letter I had written…and fly that letter across the country…and hand deliver that letter to my friend…how much would you charge me? I’m guessing it would be more than forty four cents. And I’m also guessing you wouldn’t do it.
And, contrary to popular belief, stamp prices are not increasing at a greater rate than other products. Fifty years ago, a stamp would cost you a nickel (today, they are 8.8 times more expensive), a candy bar would also cost you a nickel (now 13 times pricier), a gallon of gas was thirty cents (nearly 12 times more expensive today), and the average movie price was eighty five cents (they’re now over 9 times as expensive). And, were this the type of blog that actually tried to make a serious point from time to time and give you something legitimate to complain about, I’d bring up the fact that, in the early 1960’s, the minimum wage was $1.25 and today it is $7.25 – an increase (5.8 times more) sure to widen the gap between the people with all the money and the people who can’t afford to buy a stamp (but I’m not that kind of blog, I’m more about jokes. So…why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide.)
If you want to complain about stamp prices, you should build a time machine (admittedly, perhaps not the best justification for building a time machine). In 1963, a stamp cost five cents. Over a hundred years earlier, in 1847, when the first national postage stamp was introduced, it cost…five cents. Do you know how much five cents was worth in 1847? With a nickel you could purchase a canister of the finest mustache wax, a whale-bone corset, three slightly used skillets, a first-class ticket on the steam locomotive from Kansas City to Deadwood, and a bag of Uncle Jeremiah’s multi-purpose barley flour…and still get four cents change.
Or, if you really want to complain about postage prices, you should have tried the short-lived Pony Express. When established, in 1860, it cost five dollars to send one letter. That’s the equivalent of about one hundred and twenty dollars today. A hundred and twenty bucks to update Aunt Millicent on how you lost two Holsteins in the drought and little Johnny took second place in the hoop rolling tournament? Now that was a price worth complaining about. And, on top of that, you had to trust a pony to deliver your mail. Ponies are cute, but notoriously bad with addresses.
Of course, I’m communicating this message about how we shouldn’t complain about biennial two-cent increases in the price of delivering our words to others via a blog…in which I merely have to push a button and my words are delivered to others for free. All the more reason we shouldn’t complain. Most of our mail is now delivered electronically (by, I believe, electric ponies), so stamp prices are even less of a burden. Personally, if it means more of my letter carrying brothers and sisters can keep their jobs, I’m willing to go up to an even fifty cents. Heck, it’s still cheaper than a bag of Uncle Jeremiah’s multi-purpose barley flour.
So, how am I going to do it? How will I convince people that forty four cents is a very reasonable price to pay to have your letters hand delivered all around this country? What do you mean? I just did.