Monday, May 11, 2009

The Cost of Snail Mail is Rising

It'll cost Americans an extra 2 cents to mail a letter starting Monday. The price of a first-class stamp will climb to 44 cents. It's the third year in a row that rates have gone up in May under a new system that allows annual increases as long as they don't exceed the rate of inflation for the year before.

While the increase will bring in added income, the post office continues to struggle financially as more and more lucrative first-class mail is diverted to the Internet, and the recession discourages businesses from sending their usual volume of advertising. The Postal Service lost $2.8 billion last year and is $2.3 billion in the hole just halfway through this year.


When was the last time you sent someone a letter? It took me a hot little minute to answer that question. I mailed a friend of mine a CD a few weeks ago. Typically, I send my friends music electronically. Unfortunately, this particular friend is one of the few people in 2009 who doesn't have a personal computer. Snail mail is dying a slow death. It seems that most people prefer to do things electronically. I know people who still pay their bills via snail mail, but those people have always been resistant to change. The demise of the Postal Service bothers me a little because the Postal Service employs a lot of people. I hope the Postal Service's lack of revenue doesn't cause its employees to get laid off in droves. One could argue that the Postal Service's collapse could rival the downfall of the American auto industry.

Aaliyah released a song entitled "Four Page Letter" where she sings about writing a letter to a man she loves. I think love letters will continue to exist because they are more personal than text messages and e-mails. The Postal Service, however, cannot survive on love letters alone.

I'm sending him a 4 page letter
And I enclosed it with a kiss
And when I write him he better
Get it on time