USPS: Unconscionable Stamp Gouging?
WASHINGTON — The Governors of the U.S. Postal Service have approved new prices for mailing services, including a 2-cent increase in the price of a First-Class Mail stamp to 44 cents. Prices for mailing services are reviewed annually and adjusted each May. The new prices will go into effect Monday, May 11.
Over the last 90 years, the average retail price of gasoline has increased about 8.5 times, from 25.5 cents per gallon in 1919 to $2.16 per gallon in 2009, according to annual price data from the EIA. Over the same period, the price of a first-class stamp in the U.S. has increased 21X, from 2 cents in 1919 to 44 cents in 2009 (starting tomorrow), according to historical stamp price data available here.
The chart above compares stamp prices to gas prices using an index that is equal to 100 in 1919 for both series, and includes the CPI index from 1919-2009, also equal to 100 in 1919.
If stamp prices had increased over time at "only" the rate of gas prices, a first-class stamp would only cost only 17 cents today instead of 44 cents. If stamp prices had increased at the same rate as consumer prices in general, stamps today would cost about 25 cents.
When gas prices rose last summer, Rep. Bart Stupak (D.-MI) introduced "The Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act," which would make it a crime to "sell crude oil or gasoline at a price that is unconscionably excessive." Shouldn't we now investigate "unconscionably excessive stamp prices" of the postal monopoly?