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Good until used.

Byline: The Register-Guard

From the why-didn't-they-think-of-this-before department: The U.S. Postal Service proposes issuing stamps that would be good until used. The proposal softens the sting of a postal rate increase that is also part of the proposal. After the "forever stamp" becomes available, at least people won't have to add a few pennies of postage to ensure the delivery of their mail.

It was just a few months ago that the cost of mailing a first-class letter went to 39 cents from 37 cents. Newspapers and television broadcasts around the country featured stories of people standing in long lines to buy 2-cent stamps to go with their 37-centers. It's safe to say that everyone in those lines thought it was ridiculous to spend their lunch hours buying stamps costing 2 cents apiece. But they had to do it - otherwise, their old 37-cent stamps would become worthless unless they used two of them.

Now the Postal Service has asked the independent Postal Rate Commission to approve an increase to 42 cents, effective next year. That means people will need 3-cent stamps to go with their soon-to-be-obsolete 39-cent stamps. But there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Starting with the next round of postal rate increases, the Postal Service proposes that patrons be offered stamps costing 42 cents that will always be sufficient to ensure delivery. When postal rates go to 45 cents, as the Postal Service expects in the next few years, the "forever stamps" purchased for 42 cents would still be good without additional postage. The cost of "forever stamps" would increase along with postal rates, going to 45 cents in a few years and who knows how much higher later on, but whatever the price, the stamps would always be good until used.

So what's to keep people from buying a lifetime supply of "forever stamps?" Nothing - indeed, the Postal Service hopes people will do exactly that. The Postal Service would get its customers' money up front, and "forever stamps" would lie in desk drawers for years. Some of the stamps would be lost, destroyed or never used, so their sale would represent pure profit for the Postal Service.

For some customers, the opportunity to protect themselves from future rate increases by purchasing "forever stamps" would be a strong attraction. For most, the convenience of never having to buy 2- or 3-cent stamps, or remember what they paid for transitional stamps bearing no denomination, would be the primary benefit. The Postal Rate Commission should embrace the "forever stamp" with enthusiasm as a rare opportunity to make postal rate increases easier to bear.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Editorials; 'Forever stamp' an overdue idea
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:May 6, 2006
Previous Article:Half as healthy.

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