The Postal Service has come up with the interesting idea of selling a defined service instead of a piece of pseudo-money. The “forever stamp” will be good for a first class letter indefinitely, so when rates go up, you won’t have to find and affix an extra two- or three-cent stamp. [Please note that I am not making the obvious joke about the name of this stamp actually referring to the time it will take to get your letter delivered. If you like that joke, you can make it yourself.]
I’ve now heard an NPR, and read two print media, stories on this and none of them explains what a great deal this is for the Postal Service, instead parroting their official line on customer value (of course, both can be true) and recounting worries from this and that opiner about whether the Postal Service might lose money on the deal.
Lose money? That would take some doing. What’s not being mentioned is that a stamp is an interest- free loan from you to the Postal Service, rather like a traveler’s check. They should sell all they can, rolls and rolls of them, and hope everyone stashes a lifetime supply in the drawer, as long as they have a place to put the revenue that earns more than rates will go up. If they do, they’ll have enough to deliver your letter when you finally mail it, and money left over. As it happens, first-class postage has increased 29c since 1974, only about 3.125 percent per year, so interest rates would have to be historically low for this stamp not to be a bad financial bet for you and a good one for the Postal Service. Not to mention the stamps that will be eaten by the dog or just lost, which are all gravy.
Actually, I think this is a good idea on the whole, as long as one just buys a reasonable supply, purely to avoid the inconvenience of having to top them up when rates increase. But I wish our reporters would tell the story properly.