U.S. Postal Service Sinks Further

The band played on as the Titanic sank. What did they play? Did they decide to play the best songs they knew how to play to go out with courage and dignity? Or did they play the most popular songs of the day in hopes that people would like them better, turn their boats around and come rescue them?

The USPS seems to be doing the latter. Where once our postage stamps celebrated or best and brightest and our people, places and events of historical, artistic and scientific significance, recent years have seen increasing numbers of stamps that appear to have been issued just to get people to buy them. The Art of Disney stamps, the Star Wars stamps, the multiple Reagan stamps, for example. Which is not to say that there isn’t some merit in all of these subjects, but there comes a point where due diligence has been done in recognizing an achievement and you cross over into pandering.

At last, the national nightmare is over. Now we can have our own Britney stamps!

Actually, I have mixed emotions about this. I really love collecting US postage stamps, and would love for my own kids to be excited about it one day. The USPS has been losing money and really needs to find ways to increase revenue or it won’t survive. Is this the way to do it, though? Will people actually turn the life boats around and come rescue the USPS because they like the new stamps?

Now, the USPS has ended its ban on portraying living people on stamps. Call me a pessimist, but I don’t see anything good coming of this.

Who will decide who's worthy of being on a stamp?

This is something we’ve looked down on other countries for doing. The ban on honoring people on US stamps until five years after their death seems very wise to me. Our heroes have let us down so many times in recent years that insurance companies now offer scandal insurance, for when a corporate mascot like Tiger Woods gets involved in a sex scandal. Although there’s always been a certain amount of establishment propaganda inherent in any country’s postage stamps, the USPS has done a good job at being fairly neutral & populist throughout its history. How will it handle honoring the living on stamps, while trying to sell the greatest number of stamps?

It's only a matter of time...

There are huge numbers out there who would insist that Sarah Palin deserves to be on a stamp. Many others would say she’s just a corporate whore just playing a part to make money and deserves to be drowned in rancid baby vomit and fermented coyote urine. A decade from now people will most likely be saying, Sarah who? Will the USPS cave to popular demand and put the latest fad on a stamp? If they did, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. They’d be using Internet troll techniques to get attention, but at least it’d get people talking and thinking about the USPS, and that might ultimately be a good thing.

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