The U.S. Postal Service last month issued stamps commemorating Harry Potter, the English boy wizard renowned in both books and movies. Some say this move aims at attracting younger people unaccustomed to licking stamps to something other than email, iPods, tablets and the like.
Some say this is a desperation move by a financially ailing postal service and violates past postal practice and portends disaster in the future http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-harry-potter-stamps-20131203,0,74886.story#axzz2mQ9Bs18O
While this may be a superficially valid criticism and could upset some philatelic purists who disdain blatantly commercial stamps so what?
It’s worth remembering that Harry Potter stamps are not the first time the USPS went down this road. As far back as 2007, the postal service issued not only stamps but color postmarks commemorating the Star Wars movies and such comic book characters as Spider Man https://store.usps.com/store/browse/productDetailSingleSku.jsp?productId=S_990768&categoryId=subcatC_CP_DCPs
Others have also dismissed the Harry Potter stamps as just another of the USPS’s harebrained moves of which it has made many. But on the scale of things, Harry Potter stamps don’t rate that high. Not when considering that the postal service wanted to sell beer and wine in local post offices or dump mail for entire housing developments in central boxes in lieu of delivering to every address in the country.
And who says the USPS is really all that broke?
Yes, the postal service reported a $5 billion loss for fiscal 2013 ended Sept. 30 http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2013/pr13_087.htm.
Without telling the whole story this figure is misleading at best and is really downright deceptive.
That’s because the last postal reform law in 2006 mandated that the USPS pay at least $5.8 billion each year to the U.S. Treasury to pay for the healthcare costs of future retirees.
The postal service has already defaulted on this a few times and Congress seems in no hurry to fix this problem even though it caused this self-fulfilling prophesy of financial disaster all by itself.
But with only a $5 billion loss last year, the USPS could be back on the road to financial stability without this multibillion dollar artificial millstone.
At the same time, let’s not forget that the USPS is perhaps the oldest governmental or quasi-governmental service in the country. We all still need the service, no matter our ages.
In this holiday season, just think of how many people are ordering presents from catalogs and other direct mailers and using USPS package delivery services which are must cheaper than United Parcel Service and Fedex, say.