Another price hike for stamps? Here’s a better way

The cost of a Forever stamp is set to drop from 58 cents to 60 cents in July – part of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s effort to raise prices ‘at an uncomfortable pace’ until the Postal Service becomes financially self-sufficient .

The agency, which receives no direct taxpayer funds, has been losing money for 14 years. It expects to lose another $110 billion over the next decade.

The reasons are obvious. Revenue from first class mail has all but disappeared with the shift to digital communications.

The Postal Service has also been crippled by contributing to a health benefit fund for current and retired employees for 75 years.

Is there a better way to save the postal service instead of endless price hikes?

Yes.

We should follow the example of more than a hundred other countries and allow the Post Office to offer limited banking services in its thousands of post offices.

France, Japan and China are among the countries that are keeping postal services in the age of electronic mail by allowing their post offices to compete with private banks.

When I lived in Tokyo, I had a postal bank account. It was incredibly convenient and just as reliable as a major bank.

There has been a long time for such systems to fix problems. The first postal banking system was set up by Great Britain in 1861.

Democratic lawmakers have introduced various bills over the years to bring banking services to the U.S. Postal Service, and to date they have all been opposed by Republicans.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, introduced legislation to create a post office bank in 2018. It would have allowed post offices to offer checking and savings accounts and provide low-rate short-term loans of interest.

“I think it’s such an elegant solution for complex problems,” Gillibrand told me at the time, “especially payday loans.”

She noted that millions of Americans are trapped each year by short-term lenders charging annual interest rates of up to 400%.

“Congress has the ability to eliminate these predatory practices right now by creating a postal bank that would be accessible to everyone,” Gillibrand said.

Unfortunately, this elegant solution is far from being implemented.

Instead, we have DeJoy, who was nominated by former President Trump, saying that stamps will continue to get more expensive “until we achieve our goal of projecting a trajectory that shows we’re becoming autonomous”.

File this under “missed opportunity”.

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