Have you been examining your mail carefully lately-not just the letters inside the envelopes, but the envelopes themselves? If not, take a look. Chances are you’ll find a new experiment in canceling stamps. We’ve found splashed across the upper right-hand corner of first-class letters, "Happy Who-lidays from the U.S. Postal Service." Next to this greeting is an image of the Grinch’s furry hand ready to drop a Christmas tree ornament.

On January 7 the cost of mailing a first-class letter will rise to $.34, and the charges for priority mail will increase by $.30 to $3.50 for the first pound, and $.75 more for the second. (It now costs $3.20 for the first two pounds of priority mail.) It has been two years since the Postal Service raised first-class rates, but when this one goes into effect, the rate will have increased by 36 percent over the past ten years. (Magazine rates will increase 9.9 percent-woe is us.)

These rate hikes are projected to bring about $2.5 billion into Postal Service coffers. According to Postal Rate Commission Chairman Ed Gleiman, the Postal Service needs about $800 million to cover increasing operating expenses. The extra $1.7 billion will provide a "sizable cushion," he says. Over the past five years, the Postal Service has made a profit of $6 billion.

And with lucrative advertising deals like the one recently struck with Universal Studios for The Grinch, these profits should continue. How? Why? Want to know more? Visit the Postal Service’s Web site , where, along with links to Universal’s Grinch Web page, you’ll find the explanation: "What better way to remind you that USPS can help you deliver the holiday cheer than to pair up with the fun and inspiring creation of Dr. Seuss! That’s why Universal and USPS have come together to bring the Whoville spirit to your local Post Office."

Perhaps some of that Whoville spirit can clear the waters muddied by a government-run organization’s willingness to allocate what is essentially public space for private interests. Couple this with the impending rate increase, and with no guarantees of service improvement, and it’s enough to make you go a little, well, postal.

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Published in the 2000-12-15 issue: View Contents
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