Stamp prices viewed reasonable compared to other price increases

Melissa Fose

Melissa Fose

Someone who claimed to pay only 42 cents for a 200-mile flight would be the laughing-stock of this country. Instead of forcing consumers and businesspeople to pay hundreds of dollars to the airlines in order to deliver a letter, the U.S. Postal Service offers this service for less than half of one dollar.

Starting May 12, First Class stamps will cost one cent more. Critics complain of this small increase because stamp prices rose one cent last May. Consumers must acknowledge that the U.S. Postal Service is a business in which prices must rise with inflation in order to cover its costs and stay competitive.

Some claim that tax dollars contribute to the Postal Service, implying that there is no reason that postage costs should be raised. In reality, the Postal Reorganization Act of 1971 disconnected the Postal Service from politics; though it is still owned and regulated by the federal government, it is now a self-supporting business. Therefore, revenue is gained solely through postage sales and is deposited back into the business for improvement.

The U.S. Postal Service is increasing rates because of rising costs; the major culprit is gasoline. In 2007, gasoline prices jumped 29.6 percent. Six out of seven days each week, 219,000 vehicles hit the road all across the United States. The Postal Service loses millions of dollars when gasoline prices increase by even one penny.

Imagine this: your car breaks down and you need to go to Minneapolis. You find a friend going there too and offer to write a check. If this friend gave you a ride from Brookings to Minneapolis, would you give them $5? Probably not. Gas cost the driver about $30 to $40, depending on the price of gas and the type of vehicle. Plus, you want to show your appreciation and take in account that they let you ride with them for a few hours as well as provide space in the car for your bags.

The Postal Service provides the same convenience. The business needs to raise revenue so it can provide better services to its patrons.

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act allows USPS to raise prices annually, but is limited to the rate measured by the Consumer Price Index. The average product pricing increase for May 2008 is 2.9 percent. Critics need to lighten up about such an increase.

Consider this: bread prices rose by 10.5 percent and milk prices jumped 19.3 percent in 2007. These everyday necessities push consumers to dig deeper into their pockets. Consumers should be glad that USPS is not raising prices by 19.3 percent.

Also, the Postal Service provides information on its Web site to promote its lack of surcharges, of which competitors like UPS and FedEx are famous. One helpful feature calculates how much money consumers could save by switching their business to the Postal Service.

The Postal Service offers lower prices and often times better service. A fresh addition to the USPS services is the $12.95 flat-rate box, a box 50 percent larger than the present flat rate box. To promote its support of the military, two dollars will be deducted from the order if sent to a military address. Support your country by using the Postal Service as well as save money when you send your loved one a piece of home.