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Postage increase continues odd coincidence
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Dear editor,

I read the Great Bend Tribune article: “Holiday Deadline is Here” (Dec. 18 issue). I say: Stock-up on your “forever” postage stamps, now. As of Jan. 27, 2019, the cost to mail a first-class domestic letter will rise to 55 cents; matching my age of 55.

This is not the first time; this coincidence has happened many times before: When I was age 6 in 1969 the price of a stamp was 6 cents. When stamps rose to 8 cents in 1971, I was age 8. In March 1974 when stamps rose to 10 cents, I was still age 10. In the Bicentennial year of 1976, when stamps were 13 cents, I was age 13. In 1978, when I was age 15, stamps cost 15 cents. In 1981, when stamps rose again to 18 cents, I was age 18. In 1985, when stamps rose to 22 cents, yes, I was age 22. In 1996, when I was age 33, the price of a stamp was 33 cents. This is a pretty remarkable coincidence. Thereafter, my age started to “pull” away just a whisker above postage stamp prices. I’d often joke to friends that I needed to “quit aging.” I assumed stamps would never again “match my age” but it has happened again, now.

I am amazed that in the year 1885, the price of a postage stamp was 2 cents and was 3 cents even on July 31, 1958. So, for three-fourths of a century, postage only ticked upward a penny!! When I was born in 1963, a stamp price was a nickel. Granted, innovations in machinery and transportation costs account for some of this. In bygone years, mail was governed by “The Post Office Department.” And, the “Postmaster General” was a member of the U.S. President’s Cabinet. No more. Innovations by then U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1971 pushed through “The Postal Reorganization Act” creating “The United States Postal Service” or U.S.P.S., which was a grave mistake in my opinion. Rates went up, service tended to go down. Many people of my parents’ generation told me that postal mail formerly was delivered by a mailman on foot (in bigger cities) twice per day. Imagine that happening now. Of course, now, I say that I get tons more “junk mail” than I receive “good mail.”  

I know fewer and fewer people are mailing letters (including myself). Yet, I haven’t stopped being a “snail-mailer.” There is something special about receiving a real tangible letter or paper postcard. It is something about the “sender’s” flair (cursive handwriting for example) you can hold in your hands. 

Some young “millennials” advocate an end to the Post Office. I oppose that. Even the U.S. Constitution in Article I, Section 8, Clause 7, empowers Congress “To establish Post Offices and post roads.” Less than 100 years ago, many roadways wouldn’t have been gravel or even paved, except for this provision. The millennials try to counter that they can buy anything they need with their credit card or debit card. I, then, ask them: “How did you obtain that card you hold in your hand?” They respond: “In the mail.” To that, I say: “Checkmate !!”  

Although costly, if you have a special message to somebody, such as a significant birthday ... write an occasional postal letter. I’m really grateful to a nice lady who hand-drew a cupcake on my recent birthday-card envelope. It made the day happier.

James A. Marples