Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What does 44 cents buy these days?

Old Fashioned CandyWithin my memory, 44 cents has gone from buying 4 candy bars and 4 packs of gum to an itty bitty piece of paper that you lick and stick on an envelope.

While those 4 candy bars and 4 packs of gum could give a kid a day-long sugar high—and keep a dentist busily occupied cleaning up the after-effects for months!—that little stamp can send a letter across the country, in first class accommodations.

44 cents to write your Mom whether she lives across the street—or across the country. What a deal! (And while I'm thinking about it—write her! She'd love to hear from you.)

But did you ever wonder how the Post Office arrived at that cost? Here's an educated guess, proffered by George Washington University MBA student Andrew Schneider after delving into USPS and Postal Regulatory Commission Reports. The big surprise is that less than half the cost is the mailing process itself (sorting and delivery). The remainder covers USPS general overhead. Almost.

Sorting/labor 10 cents
Delivery labor 7 cents
Facility & vehicle maintenance 2 cents
Fuel & transportation 1 cent
Buildings, equipment, vehicles 2 cents
Retiree pension & health costs 2 cents
Misc. Expenses/first class mail 8 cents
Corporate overhead 16 cents
Cost to the USPS 48 cents
Cost to Consumer 44 cents!

That means every letter you mail to your Mom costs the USPS 4 cents. Now multiply your 4 cents by the billions of first class letters the USPS mailed last year. No wonder the USPS has the low down dirty fiscal blues!

Dear MomThe USPS is subsidizing your mail. And what do you do? You whine about paying 44 cents! In most countries around the world 44 cents would look like the bargain of the century. Even better for you ingrates, the USPS isn't raising the cost of the hard-working First Class stamp in the pending postal increase.

So write your Mom more often.

Remember: It's only 44 cents. It's a sweet deal.

And it won't rot your teeth.

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