Governmental promises have a value that can be sometimes be measured. The United States Postal Service has had an implied promise to the American citizenry-that it would be there day after day, year after year delivering mail and packages to every address in the country. It was this implied promise of government, never questioned until very recently, that underpins the high percentage of postage value that older US postage has always sold for. The traditional percentage of “face value” that older postage has sold for has been in the range of 85% a level that is far in excess of what the older postage of most major countries has sold for (Canadian postage has usually sold for just above half). US postage began to come down in price at the start of the Great Recession and has now fallen to the 60-65% range. This no longer denotes general economic weakness but more of a lack of confidence in the solvency of the USPS and a concern over the immutability of the promise that stamps will never be demonetized.

 People need to have confidence in their government’s promises and when that confidence is shaken the fallout can be profound. To take one currently debated example, as Social Security becomes a program for only older or retired workers do you really think that younger workers, whose taxes are paying and have always paid benefits to retirees will continue to have political interest in the program. Over time benefits to retirees will be lowered because it will be no longer in the interest of all Americans to preserve a strong inviolate system. This is exactly what has happened to the USPS. Package delivery companies have lopped off part of its most profitable business, email quite a bit more, and what the Post Office is left with is being legally required to maintain the pieces of a business that no one else wants. This is inconvenient and costly but not dangerous but could be a warning of what we will face with other proposed government privatizations. Should we allow the Post Officization of Social Security and Medicare we will have a system where the young are pitted against the old in economic interest and with  the demographic that receives full social security benefits growing proportionately smaller every year it is only a matter of time that, again like the Post Office, that they talk about closing those programs down.

Share on:
Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top